These are some of the Drum Corps members who have become
professional musicians.


Oscar Brashear’s Bio reads like a Who’s Who in contemporary music, spanning four decades and including work as a trumpet player with artists whose fame is only equaled by their talent and accomplishments.

A native of Chicago, Brashear took up the trumpet at an early age and was playing professionally in and around Chicago by 1960. In the early part of that decade he played with big bands and jazz groups, as well as recording for various artists and record companies. The end of the decade saw tours with Woody Herman in 1967, and with Count Basie in 1968 and 1969.

1970 proved to be a momentous year as Oscar worked with James Moody, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, and Eddie Harris in Chicago, before relocating later that same year to Los Angeles, his present home.

Work with various artists, including recording sessions, live performances, television and film, in addition to leading his own group, has kept Brashear busy since moving to Los Angeles.

     • Josephine Innis, Piano Lessons and Harmony
     • Charles Allen, Private Trumpet Lessons
     • Capt. Walter Dyet Du Sable High School, Chicago, IL
     • Bunky Green, Private Lessons
     • Wright Junior College, Chicago, IL
The followig is a list of artist with whom Oscar Brashear has worked over the years... and he has been on

Sammy Davis Jr.
Nancy Wilson
Sarah Vaughn
The Miracles
The Four Tops
Diana Ross
Johnny Mathis
Dionne Warwicke
Carole King
James Moody
Bill Cosby
Sonny & Cher
New American Orchestra
Donald Byrd
Ella Fitzgerald
Marvin Gaye
Gene Ammons
Benny Carter
The Commodores
Norman Connors
Monk Higgins Ray Charles
Freddie Hubbard
Vicki Carr
Esther Phillips
Marlena Shaw
Lalo Schifrin

Quincy Jones
Carmen McCrae
Gladys Knight & The Pips
The Temptations
Stevie Wonder
Eddie Harris
Diahann Carroll
Chaka Khan
Duke Pearson
Willie Bobo
Redd Foxx
Henry Mancini
Nelson Ridle
Herbie Hancock
Woody Herman
Sonny Stitt
Billy Higgins
The Crusaders
Natalie Cole
Leon Haywood
The Jacksons
Andre Crouch
Englebert Humperdinck
The Spinners
Lou Rawls
Linda Rondstadt

Over the past 25 years I have built a solid reputation as an accomplished and totally dedicated french horn player, performing in a wide variety of musical contexts, and as an increasingly active composer. My first instrument as a member of the junior high school band was the cornet and later the trumpet and fluglehorn. But after hearing the french horn during rehearsals I felt a strong affinity for that instrument and was happily able to make the change.  Simultaniously with my band experience in high school, I was first active in Giles Yellow Jackets and later the DesPlaines Vanguard competitive drum & bugle corps.  Through high school and college, I lived a kind of musical schizophrenia, studying and playing classical music, but listening to and loving jazz. Continuing in that direction for some time, I finally decided that I needed some instruction on how to approach jazz on this instrument.

Upon graduation from the Southern Illinois University School of Music, I moved to New York to seek out and study with the long-time pioneering jazz french hornist Julius Watkins. I was able to win a N.E.A. grant to begin this study program. After several years of instruction and hard practice, I first came to prominence as a regular member of the Sun Ra Arkestra from 1976 to 1978. After that I worked sporadically for Sun Ra, making a number of recordings with the ensemble, and then worked for six years with the Carla Bley Band. In 1984, I joined Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy and have been featured on all of the group’s nine recordings. For many years, I have also been part of the David Murray Big Band in which I am featured on five CD’s. I have also been able to employ my talent playing with Chick Corea, Cassandra Wilson, Shirley Horn, Randy Weston, The Gil Evans Orchestra and The Mingus Orchestra. In the Contemporary Classical idiom , I have worked with Guus Janssen on varied projects in The Netherlands. I have also performed with popular artists such as Ashford and Simpson, Melba Moore, Peggy Lee, Maxwell, Aretha Franklin, Freddy Jackson, The Winans, Elvis Costello, Brandy and many more.  In 2000 I had the honor of playing a performance for Pope John Paul II's 80th birthday concert.

I have recorded as a sideman with various artist on more than 150 albums, CD’s and soundtracks. Eventually I came to the point that many musicians reach when they feel the need for more personal creative expression. I began writing music that could best express myself and my instrument. I felt that no one was writing for the french horn the way I knew it could be played. Several bands were put together over many years, which lead to my first CD. This recording entitled “Welcome Mr. Chancey” was released in 1993 on In + Out Records. A quartet was featured on this album using electric guitar, bass and drums. I enjoyed working with this group, but felt that I wanted to do something closer to the music that I had always listened to as a developing jazz musician, classic jazz. I started first by composing music that I thought worked with the way I liked to play my instrument. Soon after I was asked to do a CD of music commemorating my jazz horn teacher, Julius Watkins and his group, The Jazz Modes. In 1996 I recorded my second CD “Vincent Chancey and Next Mode” on DIW records. This one featured a Quintet with tenor saxophone, piano, bass, and drums.

The french horn is my natural voice. Throughout my career I have been devoted to the idea of achieving wider recognition for the horn as a jazz instrument and I have constantly sought to increase the capability of the instrument and overcome the inherent problems of adapting it to the vocabulary of jazz.

( From Vincent's website, address - )


click photo for more
 Bill O'Connell got involved in music when he joined the DesPlaines Vanguard in '68 at the age of 13 and played cymbals.  He marched a total of 9 years and also played tympani and snare.  He was eventually the drum sergeant.  He received the Drummer of the Year award in '73, and the Vanguard of the Year award in '75.  After jr. corps he marched with and instructed the Chicago Connection and Chicago Vanguard Senior Corps.  He was the drum major one year of the Vanguard Sr. Corps.  He is married to Dawn and has 3 kids: Chase (13) who plays trumpet (and is named after the late legendary trumpeter, Bill Chase), Will (10) who is interested in playing drums but may be moving to trombone, and Kayley (8) who is interested in vocals.  He received both his BA and MA from Northern Illinois University.  He teaches at Triton College.

Catch Bill's New Vintage radio show Sundays 5:00PM on WDCB 90.9 FM
New Vintage - Sunday, 5 p.m.
Featuring the contemporary sounds of the vintage art form known as big band, New Vintage celebrates the many successes of today’s band leaders dedicated to furthering and promoting America’s greatest contribution to world music history. New Vintage is hosted by Bill O’Connell, leader of the Chicago Skyliners Big Band
To contact the band, call 847-352-BILL .

The Bill O'Connell Big Band was formed in 1988 for the sole purpose of prolonging the musical memory of the Big Band Era.  Members of the band in the early days were informed that this was not a major money making proposition, only a mission to keep Big Bands alive.

A house band at FitzGeralds Night Club in Berwyn since 1991, The Chicago Skyliners Big Band following has grown to become one of the top Big Bands in Chicagoland.

Blue Birdland Jazz recording artists, besides original material, the Band features the music of Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Sammy Nestico, Stan Kenton, Artie Shaw, Glen Miller and Duke Ellington.

The band also showcases the music of contemporary artists such as James Engram, Al Jarreau, Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severenson, Blood Sweat & Tears, The Ides of March and The Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Big Band is alive and well. The Chicago Skyliners have periodic open dates available for private parties, dances, jazz concerts, festivals, and special events.