At Elmhurst University, where he has taught since 1978, he serves as director of the acclaimed Elmhurst University Jazz Band and as director of jazz studies. Under his direction, the Jazz Band has performed in festivals across the world and regularly appears with jazz greats such as Clark Terry, Diane Schuur, Nicholas Payton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Pete Christlieb, Lee Konitz, Louie Bellson, and Bobby Shew. In 2003, Beach received the University’s highest teaching honor, the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Beach is equally well known for his work as a publisher and composer. His company, Doug Beach Music, is one of the world’s leading publishers of educational jazz music, and he has won 17 consecutive awards for composition from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). In 1996, the Count Basie Orchestra and New York Voices recorded his arrangement of “Cottontail” on a CD that went on to win the Grammy Award for best large jazz ensemble.
Beach is also a highly sought-after clinician and adjudicator. He has served as a conductor, guest artist, or judge throughout the United States and in Canada, Australia, and Europe, and he frequently conducts All-State ensembles. Twice, he has served as artist-in-residence for the Illinois Arts Council.
A Yamaha performing artist and clinician, Beach plays Yamaha trumpets and flugelhorns.
Kris Johnson is an award-winning trumpeter, composer, and educator. He has appeared on five Grammy-nominated albums and composed the original score for the four-time Emmy-nominated webseries “King Ester”. Kris toured the world as a trumpeter and arranger with the Count Basie Orchestra from 2008-2019 and served as the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Utah from 2015-2019. Currently, Kris is a freelance composer, arranger, and educator in Metro Detroit, and the creator and curator of the online educational series “Office Hours with Kris Johnson”.
Kris was recently commissioned by Plowshares Theater (Detroit, MI) in partnership with the Kresge Foundation to compose a musical influenced by Detroit’s historic Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods. “Hastings Street: the musical” is currently in development with music/lyrics co-composed by Kris and playwright/actor John Sloan III who also wrote the book. In 2012, Kris received an ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers award and was selected as one of 25 Detroit performing and literary artists to receive a $25,000 Kresge Artist Fellowship. Kris was awarded a grant in 2014 from New Music USA to fund a studio recording of his original musical “Jim Crow’s Tears” with a book by Gary Anderson of Plowshares Theater (Detroit). Kris has been commissioned to write compositions and arrangements for the Count Basie Orchestra, Ken Thompkins (principal trombonist, Detroit Symphony Orchestra), Arts League of Michigan, Karen Clark Sheard, Yolanda Adams, the Clark Sisters, Farmington Community Band, Detroit Symphony’s Civic Ensembles, Ferndale Community Concert Band, Motor City Brass Band, Troy High School, New Trier High School, and many others.
Mr. Johnson has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious jazz venues including the Apollo Theater, the Blue Note Jazz Club (US and Japan), Sydney Opera House, Blues Alley, and the Hollywood Bowl. He has also had the opportunity to perform with many jazz greats including Tony Bennett, Patti Austin, Wess Anderson, Wycliffe Gordon, Jon Hendricks, Monty Alexander, Christian McBride, Jamie Cullum, and many others. As the leader of The Kris Johnson Group, he has recorded several studio albums including “Odd Expressions”, “Journey Through a Dream” and “The Unpaved Road” with Lulu Fall. He has also produced a series of video projects including live performances, virtual big band videos, and his audiovisual album “SAFE” featuring his abstract illustrations and animation. Kris was featured soloist in the 2013 standup-comedy film “Make Me Wanna Holla” starring Sinbad.
Johnson has a keen sensitivity to the nuances of film as is evident in his award-winning film scores for various webseries, documentaries, short films, and feature films. Kris scored the Dui Jarrod webseries “King Ester” which was picked up by Issa Rae’s YouTube Channel “Issa Rae Presents”. The series was nominated for four Emmy Nominations in 2020. Kris received an Outstanding Score award for his work on the comedic web series The PuNanny Diaries at the 2011 LA Webfest and wrote the score for “Searching For Shaniqua” which won HBO’s Best Doc Award at the 2016 Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.
Kris received his master’s (2007) and bachelor’s (2005) degrees in Jazz Studies from Michigan State University. He was a full time faculty member at The Ohio State University from 2012 – 2015 as a Jazz Lecturer. He is also the former director of Detroit Symphony’s Civic Jazz Orchestra where he led the most talented students in Metro Detroit. Johnson has also served as a Jazz Artist in Residence at Troy High School, Southfield-Lathrup High School, Eaton Rapids High School, and is the composer and co-creator of The Learning Express, a series of workshops that use hip-hop and jazz to teach elementary students about science, reading, and math.
One of the top-selling jazz composer / arrangers in the world, Kris Berg has been enhancing the programs and recordings of jazz ensembles from professionals to middle schools for years. While very popular in the United States, you can find groups from Japan to Germany to England who have enjoyed playing his charts. A composer / arranger for Belwin Jazz, a Division of Alfred Publishing, he has written charts for many artists, including Kurt Elling, Chris Vadala, Wayne Bergeron, and Delfeayo Marsalis, honors bands, colleges, and public school programs across the country. His popular series of “chicken” funk tunes have sold tens of thousands of charts. Kris is the author of the popular bass method book, BASS LINES IN MINUTES, and also has big band charts published with Warner Brothers Music, Doug Beach Music, Bakers Jazz and More, Walrus Music, and Kris Berg Jazz.
Kris’ newest project as composer / band leader is available now. "Time Management" - The Metroplexity Big band, is the impressive follow-up to their popular and critically acclaimed CD, "This Time / Last Year". Featuring the best musicians north Texas has to offer, the CD also features special guests Phil Woods, Wayne Bergeron, Clay Jenkins, Denis DiBlasio, and Andy Timmons. Combining originals and original arrangements, "Time Management" displays nine smokin' hot charts for lovers of contemporary big band. Tunes include "Yesterdays", "Narnian Dance", and "The Chicken."
Kris has been the Director of Jazz Studies at Collin College near Dallas for 20 years. At Collin, he has taught jazz classes, directed ensembles and is the founder of both the Collin Jazz Fest and the Texas All-Star Jazz Camp. Under his direction, Collin jazz ensembles have performed multiple times at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The band has also appeared in Nassau, Bahamas as well as at festivals all over the United States. Kris earned his Master's and Bachelor's of Music in Jazz Studies at University of North Texas where he directed jazz ensembles and taught big band arranging.
An award winning bassist, Kris has appeared or recorded with the likes of Wayne Bergeron, Phil Woods, Jeff Clayton, Kurt Elling, Randy Brecker, Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, Delfeayo Marsalis, Bobby Shew, Jimmy Heath, Doc Severinsen, Clark Terry, John Fedchock, Gregg Bissonette, Chris Vadala, Kevin Mahogany, Marvin Stamm, Denis DiBlasio, Frank Mantooth, Matt Harris, Clay Jenkins, Kim Richmond, Tom “Bones” Malone and many others. Currently active as an artist / clinician for Yamaha Corporation of America, he has appeared at jazz festivals and camps throughout the United States and is also endorsed by Acoustic Image Amplifiers and Bag End Loudspeakers. Recently, Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band were featured performers at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference.
As a dedicated educator, Kris is consistently active directing honors bands both in Texas and abroad. He has been selected as guest director for the IAJE International Community College All-Star Jazz Band, the Montana, Oklahoma, Maine, Wyoming, Arizona, South Carolina, and Nebraska All-State Jazz Bands, the Texas Collegiate All-State Jazz Ensemble and the Texas Private Schools All-State Jazz Band. He has written articles for "The Instrumentalist" and "JAZZed" magazines. His popular arranging clinic for small jazz ensembles has been presented at the Jazz Education Network Conference, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Texas Music Educators Association conference, the Maine Music Educators Association conference and the Texas Band Masters conference. Kris is always eager for new opportunities to work with jazz students anywhere.