Director • Lead trombone • Member since 2005
Nancy Petrucelli is a freelance trombonist in the New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia areas. She has been Silver Starlite’s lead trombone since 2005, and was named the band’s director in 2021.
She currently performs with several other groups including Joey Katz’s Swingtones Big Band, the New Jersey Brass Quartet, the Dave Stankus Trombone Quartet, and the Summer Swing Big Band.
Nancy recently retired after 33 years as a school orchestra director with stints in Tulsa and Sapulpa, Oklahoma; Fort Worth, Euless, and Bedford, Texas; Linwood and Westfield, New Jersey; and for the last 23 years, Hillsborough, New Jersey.
Her past big band performance credits include the Kevin Kelton, Paul Midiri, and Joe Dale Big Bands; lead trombonist in composer/arranger Rick Stitzel’s Tarrant County College Night Big Band in Fort Worth, Texas; and lead trombonist for the tulsa, Oklahoma-based Mike Moore Big Band. Her orchestral experience includes the Bridgeton Symphony, the South Jersey Symphony, the Oklahoma Sinfonia, the Flagstaff (Arizona) Festival Orchestra, and the Peoria (Illinois) Symphony. She was the trombonist for the Dallas/Fort Worth Brass Quintet and the Tulsa Brass Quintet, and lead trombonist with the Atlantic Brass (artists in residence at Rowan University). She is currently a member of the International Women’s Brass Conference and the International Trombone Association.
Some of Nancy’s most notable performances include playing with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus; in Hello Dolly with Carol Channing; a stint as a substitute trombonist in the Lionel Hampton Big Band; and being one of the first women to play in the Mummers Parade.
Nancy is married to an accomplished guitarist, and is mother of three girls and one boy, one of whom has earned a Masters degree in music and is working on her own music career!
Female vocalist • Member since 2018
Corinn Springer-Pullen leads multiple parallel musical lives—as singer, pianist, and trumpeter; and as performer and teacher.
She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education cum laude from The College of New Jersey, as well as a Master of Music in Music Performance summa cum laude from Brooklyn College Conservatory.
Since receiving her degrees, Corinn has taken that knowledge and experience and passed it along to numerous students at her teaching studios in New Jersey, New York, and London, UK. Both voice and piano students of Corinn’s studio have placed in competitions and been accepted into prestigious music programs, schools for the arts, choirs, and shows. She has trained her voice students for singing in different languages, prepared them for auditions for roles on Broadway and the West End, and coached them in techniques for onscreen and stage acting.
Corinn is as passionate about performing as she is about teaching. These days she focuses on singing, but similar to most singers she has been studying piano for most of her life (as well as trumpet). Since graduate school, Corinn has performed across Europe, North America, and parts of Asia singing in various concerts and operas. Key roles include L’étudiant in Leçons de Français aux étudiants Américains (the premiere performance by Isabelle Aboulker) in Excideuil, France; the lead role of Perichole in La Perichole performed at the new Théâtre de l’Odyssée in Périgueux, France; Zenobia in Handel’s Radamisto in NYC; L’Opinion Publique from Orphée aux enfers at the impressive Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston, Texas; and the Third Lady and Papagena both from Die Zauberflöte performed in NJ and NYC. One of her favorite roles is Cherubino, from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She first performed this role in Salzburg, Austria during the summer Festspiel, where Sylvia Stone—who was made famous in Germany for her Cherubino—lauded her as a natural and beautiful Cherubino. She has since performed multiple scenes as Cherubino in concerts in NYC, all over Italy, and Moscow, Russia.
Some of Corinn’s most notable accomplishments include soloing in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center; singing a collection of famous arias at Weil Hall, Carnegie Hall; receiving first place with the Accordion Teachers Association of New Jersey classical music competition; and acting and singing in two independent feature films: Cardio, which premiered on Amazon Prime in December 2020; and Balls (Parallaxe Films, London, UK). Balls, a film loosely based on Corinn’s experiences as teacher/performer, uses the power of music to help a man struggling with Tourette’s. It was met with great acclaim at the Geneva International Film Festival as well as winning Best Romance at the New York International Film Awards.
Since her return to the States, Corinn continues to keep busy performing in recitals and opera, as well as singing with Silver Starlite, teaching singing and piano from her studio, and is the Director of Program Development for the International Master’s Academy of Opera. She is looking forward to acting in her next independent film, Avenue of the Americas.
Male Vocalist • Member since 2021
Glenn Fogarty, a NYC/NJ native now hailing from Clark, New Jersey, enjoyed growing up in an extended musical family. He took up piano in grade school, first inspired by his pianist grandmother, who frequently played the songs of the great American songwriters (Berlin, Porter, Gershwin, Kern, etc.) in the family home, and then by his uncle Jack Fogarty, a prep school teacher by day and cocktail/society pianist by night. Glenn was further influenced by his own piano teacher, the late John Lenard, a beloved orchestra and polka band leader from Elizabeth, New Jersey. Glenn was almost certainly the only kid in his grade school class who regularly and with rapt attention listened to Sid Mark’s Sounds of Sinatra show on the radio every weekend.
Upon discovering the music of the Beatles and the progressive and hard rock bands of the ’70s and ’80s, Glenn then took up both acoustic and electric guitar, starting out on an old Gibson passed down from his great uncle Joe Safarik, a journeyman trumpeter and trombonist who played in the orchestras of Harry James, Jimmy Dorsey, and Charlie Spivak, among others. Glenn studied rock, jazz-rock fusion, and classical/flamenco styles with various local teachers and later taught private guitar lessons himself. He began playing and singing in rock and church bands and performing in musicals in high school at Delbarton near Morristown, and has led various rock bands—with several receiving record label A&R attention and regional radio airplay—down to the present time. He currently sings lead and plays both guitar and keyboards for NJ bands At Sixes and Sevens (classic arena rock) and Terminal Chaos (modern and alternative rock) that perform throughout the metro area.
Rock credits notwithstanding, Glenn never lost touch with his love for Big Band Era standards. During college as a business major—and then law school—at Notre Dame, he also studied both Jazz History and Performance under the late Father George Wiskirchen, a noted jazz band educator and mentor to many famous musicians like trombonist James Pankow of the band Chicago. Glenn also sang on occasion with several Notre Dame jazz combos, and performed with pianist friends in piano bars and restaurants from South Bend to Chicago. Glenn’s longtime vocal heroes include Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Matt Monro, Tom Jones, Mel Tormé and Billy Eckstine, as well as performers like Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Bublé that re-energized public interest in big band vocal music in recent decades.
Glenn has also long been involved in choral music. Since 2009 Glenn (a.k.a. “Gerhard”, his middle name) has been with Sängerchor Newark, an award-winning German-American men’s chorus founded in 1925 that performs classical, operetta and popular material in both German and English. In recent years, Glenn has been the principal soloist of the chorus and now serves as its Second Vice President and Assistant Conductor.
He also sings at various German-American events with noted PA/NJ accordionist Don Bitterlich and can belt out Polka hits like “Rosamunde” and “Ein Prosit” beer-cheers till the proverbial cows come home. He also studies formal vocal technique with noted NATS-certified instructor Patty Opie. Now and then you can also catch Glenn singing the National Anthem at minor-league ballparks such as Yogi Berra Stadium (for the New Jersey Jackals) in Montclair.
Glenn is über-excited to now be a part of the Silver Starlite Orchestra.
Female vocalist • Member c. 2005–2010 and since 2023
Early in her singing career, Julie Rogers became known for her ability to recreate the smooth and sultry sounds of the Big Band Era—a time that brought bad news, but unforgettable music.
Julie began performing with local musical theatre companies. Her talent and stage presence quickly led to an invitation to join Gentle Winds, an octet performing standards and big band classics. This opened the proverbial floodgate, and before long Julie was one of the most in-demand band singers in the area. She could be heard with Silver Starlite—originally as a member Silver Starlite’s vocal harmony group, the Starliters, then later as featured vocalist—and with the Experience Big Band, the Pat Practico Octet, the Summer Swing Orchestra, the Midnight Sun Orchestra, and the Lenny Enourato Big Band.
Julie also toured as the featured female vocalist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Julie has performed across the continental United States as well as internationally. Recent performances include the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Plaza, The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, Giants Stadium, and the Bickford Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey.
Some of Julie’s greatest influences have been Ella Fitzgerald, Jo Stafford, Sarah Vaughn and Helen O’Connell. Born and raised in Northern New Jersey, Ms. Rogers ventured to Oklahoma and attended Oral Roberts University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Recently she furthered her education and attained her certification in Music Education and Masters degree from William Paterson University.
Julie first sang with Silver Starlite starting about 20 years ago, but took time off to concentrate on her family and her career. She is excited to be back with Silver Starlite, and figures if she can handle three toddlers, she can handle fifteen adult musicians. She’s mistaken about that, of course, but we’re letting her discover that for herself.
Female vocalist • Member since 2022
Jennifer Doty began her singing career before she could walk. She quickly figured out a way to make music part of her life: if there was a chance for her to sing, she did. During grade school and high school she participated in choirs, performances, and musicals. She sang in her high school choirs and was selected for the All State (New Jersey) and All Eastern choruses. She even managed to incorporate singing into her student council election speeches!
In college, Jennifer sang as part of BC bOp!, Boston College’s all-student jazz ensemble combining a big band and a close-harmony vocal jazz group.
Following college, Jennifer sang in church choirs and took a brief sabbatical where she kept her chops fresh by singing nursery rhymes while her children were growing up.
Today, Jennifer is an executive in the group insurance industry by day and sings by night. Recently, she has been performing with the rock cover band On Tap and the jazz/blues/rock band APolitical Blues.
Jennifer is thrilled to return to her big band music roots with the Silver Starlite Orchestra.
Lead alto sax • Member since 1999
Raymond Johnston is a consummate sideman, band leader, woodwind specialist, instrumental music teacher, and composer. As a child he began playing clarinet, quickly became infatuated with the saxophone, and started his first band at age 15. Music has been the driving force of his life for over 55 years, including his training at Berklee College of Music, 31 years as a public school and private instrumental music teacher, and 27 years as an Army bandsman.
A highly sought-after musician, Ray is adept at a wide variety of genres. His career boasts performances with Amiri Baraka, Alicia Keys, Ike Brown and the Jazz Prophets, Jay Black/Jay & the Americans, guitarist “King” Solomon Hicks, Al Green, Jerry Butler, the Philadelphia Biblical University Orchestra, the Delfonics, Irene Reid, Ali Ryerson, Paterson Musicians’ Union Hall rehearsal bands, and Steve Turre, to name a few. Ray has also toured with the Count Basie Orchestra and played on Broadway in “Shuffle Along.” Additionally, he has enjoyed a 13-year Monday night residency with the famous New York City Cotton Club All Stars band.
Alto sax • Sub since 2009; Member since 2011.
Larry DeLucca grew up under the influence of a musical family: His mother constantly sang popular songs of the 1940s, and later his brother introduced him to jazz. Quite naturally, this led to a love for music, and Larry joining the school band. He began with clarinet and alto sax, then began doubling on baritone sax for high school musicals. He went on to study music at Paterson State College, then played with the 63rd Army stage band during his military obligation. During off hours and after completing his stint in the Army, Larry played with club date and top forty bands, big bands, and saxophone quartets. A friend invited Larry to join his blues band, so he added tenor sax to his musical arsenal and learned to play in even more styles: blues, jazz, funk, rock, and swing among them.
Other groups Larry has performed with include the Dixie Gents; the Bourbon Street Strutters; Swing Man and the Misfit Mutts; Watson; Dog & Boots; John E.K. & the Memphis Storm; Hoi Polloi; the Bobby Lewis Band; Dot Cacchio’s Village Saxophone Quartet; the North Jersey Saxophone Quartet; the Jefferson Saxophone Quartet; the Tony Neglia Memorial Band; the Passaic County Sheriff Department Band; the Brookdale Big Band; the Full Count Big Band; the Moonlighters; the Skyliner Big Band; the Somers Dream Orchestra; Reeds, Rhythm and Brass; the Jordan Thomas Orchestra; and the Joe Carson Big Band. He has also lent his talents to the Jefferson, Franklin, and Trinity Community Bands.
Tenor sax • Member since 2023
Our newest member, Larry Puentes, replaces long-time Silver Starlite stalwart Kevin Loughman, recently retired from the band. Larry thinks the gig just entails playing tenor sax. He doesn’t know that Kevin played tenor AND arranged AND stayed with the band for over forty years, and we expect the same from Larry.
Tenor sax • Member since 2021
Music has been Albert G. Johnson, Jr.’s life ever since he started to learn the saxophone at age 14. In the short span from freshman to senior years, he went from beginner to first-chair saxophonist in his high school concert band and lead tenor sax in the jazz band.
His experience in high school jazz band introduced him to the art form for the first time and sparked a love and dedication to it. He now counts among his main influences Sidney Bechet, “Cannonball” Adderley, Sonny Rollins, and Gerry Mulligan.
An avid performer and a versatile musician, Albert continues to learn and hone his craft with every performing opportunity. He prides himself on becoming proficient in playing many different styles including funk, gospel, rock, reggae, classical, and disco. His dedication has yielded requests to perform with and join many different groups including 9 South, The Joe Baracata Band, Full Count Big Band, and Sugar Lane.
Albert is currently studying music education at Kean University and hopes to inspire and prepare the next generation of musicians and performers.
Baritone sax • Sub since 2018; member since 2022
From the Rose Theatre at Lincoln Center, to the University of Oregon, to the jazz clubs of Memphis, Tennessee, Silver Starlite’s baritone saxophonist Ron Pruitt has performed around the country in musical groups of all kinds.
In demand as a saxophonist throughout north Jersey, Pruitt is currently a member and associate leader of the Metropolitan Festival Band, a leading Italian feast band in the greater New York City area. He also is a founding member and leader of the Pete Cannella Orchestra, a Sinatra-style jazz combo which has performed in New York City, Washington DC, and most recently, performed the pre-concert show for Michael Bublé in Philadelphia’s XFinity Live!
Ron trained as a classical saxophonist under Kathy Mitchell at The College of New Jersey, and also studied jazz improvisation with Denis DiBlasio. He currently works as an elementary music teacher in Woodbridge Township, his home town, where he teaches general music classes and directs choirs.
Pruitt began his musical journey at age nine as a trombonist, though he has since become a saxophonist, keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist, performing works of all genres and traditions. Ron maintains a rigorous gigging schedule as well as an ever-growing private teaching studio.
Ron lives with his wife Marissa, also a music teacher, and in the rare moments he isn’t making or teaching music, he can be found hiking, cooking, reading, studying Spanish, volunteering with the BPO Elks, and kicking back with family and friends.
Lead trumpet • Member since 2003
Bill Ash first picked up a trumpet in fourth grade, and has hardly put it down since—except to play another instrument or write some music. In high school he began playing professionally, and at 16 was leading his own 15-piece band. While studying architecture at Princeton, Bill continued freelancing, again led his own big band, and began composing, arranging, and doubling on trombone and French horn. After graduation, he worked as an architect, then in computers, all the while maintaining a busy musical schedule. He has performed throughout the New York metro area and beyond with groups of every size and description, including the Temptations, the Happenings, Marlene VerPlanck, and Bobby Rydell. Currently he performs and tours with 18-time Grammy winner Jimmy Sturr.
In 2003, Bill was selected as one of New Jersey’s top jazz musicians by the Newark Star Ledger for its “Great Day in Jersey” feature.
Bill has recorded with Jimmy Sturr, the Jazz Composer’s Workshop Orchestra (which recorded his composition Stealing Fire), Kennsington Brass (which recorded several of Bill’s arrangements), Linda Torchia, the Acme Brass Co., the James L. Dean Big Band, the Bensen-Scott Big Band, the Infernos, Doug Ferony, and Bibi Farber, among others. His arrangements and compositions are performed by a number of bands.
Besides performing on brass instruments ranging from piccolo trumpet to tuba, Bill teaches privately at Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, New York and the Ridgewood Conservatory in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He also has written about music for Gannett Newspapers, for whom he interviewed such trumpet greats as Doc Severinsen, Maynard Ferguson, and Wynton Marsalis.
Bill is also a computer consultant and a graphic designer whose portfolio includes books, websites, and logos. Bill and his wife Lorraine, a journalist and author, live in Allendale, New Jersey, where they also run Cape House Publishing.
Bill has been a member of Silver Starlite since 2003. At this writing, he has also served as webmaster for about two weeks. When the rest of the band sees the site, it’s quite possible his tenure as webmaster won’t make it through a third week.
Trumpet • Sub since the 1990s; Member since 2016
Sam Ayres was first inspired to play jazz by his Ramapo High School band director, Henry Burr. Later, while studying Mathematics at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Sam played in the jazz band, concert band, and brass ensemble. He also was twice selected to play in the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Band.
Since his college days, Sam has played in a number of area big bands and smaller groups, both as a full time member and as a frequent sub—including the Silver Starlite Orchestra, in which he first started subbing back in the 1990s. Some of the many other groups that have counted Sam among their members include the Paul Miller Orchestra; the FDU–Madison Jazz Band; the Joe Carson Big Band; the Continentals Big Band; the Michael Hart Orchestra; the Skyliner Big Band; and Reeds, Rhythm and All That Brass. Additionally, Sam has played with several community concert bands and big bands, and frequently performs in churches, both in ensembles and as a soloist.
By day, Sam is a high school mathematics teacher. He lives in Wyckoff, New Jersey with his wife and an energetic puppy.
Trumpet • Member since 2021
Originally from Kentucky, trumpeter Jared Clifton is now making a name for himself in the New York / New Jersey area as a musician, composer, and educator. He can be heard performing throughout the area in a variety of bands playing different styles.
Jared earned a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from Morehead State University, followed by a masters degree from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
Among Jared’s performance credits are various festivals including the Cincinnati Blues Festival, the Jersey City Jazz Festival, and the Newark Puerto Rican day Parade. He has also performed with artists such as Domingo Quinones, Lorna Luft, and JD Allen.
Trumpet • Member since 2022
“Joe Trumpet” prefers to keep a low profile and retain as much of his anonymity and privacy as possible in these days of constant connectivity, social media, and monetized personal data. Thanks to his diligence and constant vigilance, “Joe” has largely succeeded, and is known only for and by his trumpet playing.
The reasons for “Joe’s” aversion to publicity are unknown, but speculation runs rampant. Is he involved in international intrigue, perhaps a highly trained special agent of some shadowy agency of a global superpower? Or maybe he is ensconced in the witness protection program, a man who risked everything to help bring justice to a ruthless mobster? Alternatively, perhaps he himself is the nefarious master criminal, a faceless nameless entity poised atop most-wanted lists published by Interpol and the FBI? Theories abound. Facts are considerably harder to come by.
It is known that “Joe” first shot to national fame as a young man, when he was known as “Joe College”. Emulated by his classmates, popular with the coeds, and admired by high school seniors who wished to follow in his footsteps, “Joe” was the quintessential Big Man On Campus. But he nonetheless managed to keep the details hazy at best. Even his roommates and fraternity buddies were unable to discern any personally identifying information about “Joe”. What was his real name? Where was he from? What year would he graduate? On exactly what campus was he so big? Nobody knew then, and nobody knows now. After graduation—whenever that was—“Joe” the legend remained on campuses everywhere, while “Joe” the man quietly made his way out into the world.
Sometime later, against all odds, fame again found him. Known as “Joe Sixpack,” he became an iconic political figure. It was common knowledge his opinions could swing elections; legislators in forty-four states, eager to curry his favor, sought to codify his whims into law. But what were those whims? Political consultants of every stripe attempted to identify, locate, and interview “Joe” to ascertain who he was and discern what he wanted. But specifics remained elusive, and after each election, he receded into the background again.
We know—at least we think we know—that “Joe Trumpet” can be heard with Silver Starlite. Perhaps he also performs in other groups. Who knows?
Director and lead trombone • Member since 2005
Read Nancy’s biography above under Director.
Trombone • Member since 2010
Freelance trombonist Pete Stern began his musical studies in the Hawthorne, NJ school system. Upon graduation from high school, Pete attended William Paterson University and played in the big band under the direction of Rufus Reid.
In the years since, he has put that training to good use in appearances with numerous big bands. Pete also performs regularly throughout the area in a variety of ensembles including Dixieland bands, pit orchestras, jazz combos, polka bands, and brass Bands. Additionally, he is a member of popular local rock band Kick Start Charlie, and leads his own Oktoberfest band, Peter and the Wolf-Gang. Most weekends he plays the Sunday Classic Service at the Chapel in Lincoln Park.
Pete lives in Ringwood with his wife Judy. They have two adult children and are looking forward to becoming grandparents.
Trombone • Member since 2022
Jim Dixon was very eager to start playing his trombone when it was delivered to his fourth grade class, even though his arm wasn’t yet long enough to be able to play all the notes. Over his school years, he grew into his trombone and played in all the bands that he could. Jim was involved in North Jersey Region and NJ All-State bands throughout high school, and was selected for the All-Eastern Band and the MoDonald’s All-American Band in his senior year. In college, although not a music major, he spent many hours playing in the Concert Band, Brass Ensemble, Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band.
After college, Jim continued playing trombone around north and central New Jersey in numerous orchestras, concert bands, jazz bands, and other ensembles. He is currently principal trombone in the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra and plays in the Swingtime jazz band; the Reeds, Rhythm, and All That Brass jazz band; Dixie Time Dixieland band, and the Phantom Trombone Choir.
Jim has a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and works as a Senior Research Scientist developing cybersecurity solutions for smart grids and designing systems for various wireless technologies. Jim and his wife enjoy hiking with their dog, and they have three adult children.
Trombone and bass trombone • Member since 2022
Darrell Hendricks is Director of Bands at Mount Olive High School where his responsibilities include the wind ensemble, marching band, and jazz ensemble. Under his leadership, the jazz ensemble has grown from one annual concert to regular performances at festivals including the Berklee High School Jazz Festival, the Essentially Ellington Regional Festivals at the Newark Academy and Temple University, and the Rowan Jazz Festival—as well as performing at the NJAJE state preliminary and final rounds. In 2014, they performed at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York City.
Darrell also has taught at the Mt. Tabor Summer Music Camp as a jazz instructor, and as an adjunct professor of brass pedagogy at Montclair State University. He has conducted the NJAJE Region I and Region III high school jazz ensembles, and served as the president of Region I for NJAJE from 2018 to 2021. He is currently NJAJE’s president-elect.
In addition to teaching, Darrell has performed as a low brass specialist for over twenty years. In that time, he has performed in a wide range of genres with artists including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Peter Cetera, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keyes, John Mayer, Josh Groban, The Four Tops, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Frank Kuamba Lacy, Video Games Live, the Secret Society Orchestra, Darlene Love, Ritchie Van Zandt, and Alan Chez & the Brothers of Funk. He also has performed in the pit for several Broadway productions including Curtains, The Lion King, Cry Baby, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Les Miserables; and with the touring companies for The Music Man, Miss Saigon, and Swing Forever.
Darrell also frequently appears as a guest artist and clinician at schools throughout the tri-state area.
Drums • Member since 2023
Mike Advensky hasn’t sent his bio to the webmaster, because he can’t figure out why anyone would want to know anything about the drummer.
He might be right.
Piano • Member since 2021
Pianist Lou DiFalco originally hails from Morris Plains, New Jersey. He started piano at age 9, was heavily involved in music programs throughout high school, studied jazz piano, and graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston with a degree in composition.
Lou has written music for television, produced music for other artists, and has performed on keyboards for over forty years. A highlight of Lou’s career was to receive Emmy honors for music composed for the CBS daytime drama Guiding Light in 1995-96.
A member of Silver Starlite since 2021, Lou resides in Denville, NJ, continues to play jazz piano and compose TV cues, and is currently working on completing an album of original jazz compositions. Lou also performs, arranges, and produces original music for a classic rock band that he has been involved with since 2016.
Bass • Member since 2021
Alex Duque has been playing bass for almost 40 years in one genre or another.
Originally a trumpet player, Alex taught himself electric bass by playing along with his rock heroes like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Rush. This led to bass roles in a garage band, high school jazz ensembles, and theater pit orchestras. The side gigs continued though college and graduate school as he earned Engineering degrees, along with a Music minor.
After settling in Hillsborough and starting a family with his wife Christine—whom he met on the marching band field—he ventured into the world of double bass, studying with Greg Cohen. This opened up many new opportunities playing in area big bands, jazz combos, and community theater orchestras. Many of these have evolved into long-term associations.
Guitar • Member since 2021
Anthony Petrucelli began his guitar studies at the age of 12 at a local music shop in Hillside, NJ. The owner of the shop assembled his students into groups playing the popular music of the day—the late sixties and early seventies—giving Anthony his first experience performing. After that he continued playing with rock and R&B groups all through high school.
In his early 20s he moved to Los Angeles and joined the Leif Garrett group. He toured with Garrett, a teen idol in the mid- and late 70s, for two years. They performed at a variety of venues all over the United States, including state fairs and concert halls, plus concert halls in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan.
After the tour ended Anthony left Los Angeles, spent some time in Huntsville, Alabama, and then came back home to New Jersey. During that time Anthony met his future wife and fellow musician Nancy, a music teacher and professional musician who plays, among other things, big band jazz. Anthony and Nancy played together in Christian ministry groups for many years playing contemporary and traditional Christian music. Eighteen years ago, Nancy was playing with John Nobil’s Summer Swing Orchestra when the guitar chair opened up. Anthony auditioned for the group and won the position, his first opportunity to play big band jazz.
Anthony is a building contractor and the owner of Petrucelli Contracting LLC, a dental/medical building and construction management company. He has four children and two dogs.
Founder • Former director • Member from 1980 to 2020
Silver Starlite founder Dot Cacchio’s dream when she was a student at Morristown High School was to be a band leader—not a typical goal for a young woman in the late 1950s. But for Dot, toe-tapping big band swing was more than music to her ears; it was an invitation to follow her heart.
Through pluck, luck, and a little guidance from her piano teacher, Dot matriculated at Caldwell College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in music. The multi-instrumentalist—she plays clarinet, alto sax, soprano sax, flute, and piccolo, in addition to piano—went on to graduate study in music at what was then Trenton State College.
Her studies—and her talent—served her well in her career. She taught junior high school for 17 years, and returned to Caldwell College in the 1970s to teach there. She established a musical theater program that taught students all aspects of the musical theater business. She also initiated a children’s musical theater troupe and another troupe for adults, the North Jersey Repertory Theatre. She directed a 25-voice choir and 54-voice chorus as well. She has performed in musical theater orchestras throughout New Jersey and in Pennsylvania.
She never strayed too far from her dream to lead her own band, either, and in 1980 she formed the Silver Starlite Orchestra. After leading the band through forty years of performances throughout New Jersey and beyond, Dot retired from actively fronting the band in 2020, but her spirit and the standards she set for the band remain at the heart of every Silver Starlite performance.
Dot’s accomplishments didn’t stop with the band. She wrote a memoir, A Fresh Tree Every Christmas: A Love Story. In 2001, Caldwell College presented Dot with their Veritas Award in recognition of her achievements.
Band alumni and substitutes
Trombone emeritus • Member from 1996 to 2021
Jeff Behr has been a part of the New York / New Jersey music scene since his high school and college days. Active in several genres, including jazz, classical, and dance music, Jeff has been involved with numerous area bands, both as a performer and as part of their management teams.
Jeff studied trombone with Al Godlis and Jack Gale, among others.
While nights and weekends are devoted to his main passion of music performance, Jeff also has a full-time “day gig” manufacturing and distributing his own line of Aarisse natural health care products.
After 25 years in Silver Starlite, including stints serving as the band’s webmaster and paymaster, Jeff left the band in late 2021 when he relocated to Florida. He now drives an old Buick with the turn signal always on.
Trumpet • Member during 2022
Tom Bender is a trumpeter, arranger, and composer whose extensive professional experience includes sharing the stage with the likes of Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Tom Harrell, and Lew Soloff. He has performed around the world, including Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Hawaii, Denmark, Spain, Canada, Romania, and a wonderful Christmas once in Goose Bay Labrador—20 feet below ground.
Tom is also a music teacher with over 35 years of experience. Currently he teaches at Mater Dei Prep in Middletown, New Jersey; previously he taught in the school districts of East Orange, Long Branch, and Jackson, New Jersey; and St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His students have successfully competed for placement in the New Jersey All-Shore, Region II, and All-State concert bands, as well as the All-State Jazz band. One of his former students received an Emmy Award for writing the music to Mad, Mad, Mad TV.
Tom’s own student days included degrees in Classics from the University of Scranton and Music Education from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). He studied trumpet with Donald S. “Doc” Reinhardt, Carmine Caruso, John Thyhsen, and Vincent Penzarella; and jazz composition and theory with Adolph Sandole, Pat Martino, and Manny Albam.
Numerous area ensembles have availed themselves of Tom’s talents for their performances, including the Lakewood Jazz Ensemble, the Brookdale Big Band, the Jazz Lobsters, the Sentimental Journey Big Band, the Navesink Brass, the Monmouth Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea, and Orchestra Amadeus.
Tom and his wife Janet, also an in-demand trumpeter and music teacher, maintain an active teaching studio in addition to their performances throughout the tri-state area. They are the parents of four boys.
Bass trombone • Member from 2021 to 2022
Everett Fink is a familiar face to Silver Starlite fans, having long served as one of our first-call subs on trombone and bass trombone.
A former rocker, Everett played bass in successful local New Jersey rock-’n’-roll cover bands before moving to California. There he played with members of Mott the Hoople and The Jim Carrol Band, among others.
In 1990, after his return to New Jersey, Everett began playing tenor and bass trombone in various local big bands, and has been performing regularly with them ever since. He can also be heard on tuba in brass quintets and Oktoberfest bands.
Trumpet • Frequent sub
Matt Krempasky recently retired from a 40-year career as a band director at high schools in Succasunna, Maplewood, and Somerville, New Jersey. He also served as an adjunct professor at the County College of Morris and at Seton Hall University. He was named as the New Jersey Music Educators Association’s “Master Music Teacher” in 1998, and has been included in Who’s Who Among American High School teachers on numerous occasions. He has also been a member of Mensa since 1992.
Matt has been elected to membership in three halls of fame—the Reading Buccaneers Drum and Bugle Corps, the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Pennsylvania Drum Corps. He continues to write and arrange music, primarily for the Marching Arts, for various groups from the high school to the collegiate level. He is currently arranging the brass book for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps to be performed at the 2024 DCI Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Over the years, Matt has taught and performed with various groups around the world, from brass workshops in the Netherlands to concerts in Italy, Austria, Germany, and Taiwan. He is currently performing with The Brass Pack; Reeds, Rhythm, and All That Brass; the Highland Park Orchestra; Whitehouse Wind Symphony; Bloomingdale Big Band; and Swingtime. He has recorded with the Acme Brass Company, Hyperactive, and the Jordan Thomas Orchestra.
Matt has two children—daughter Julia and son James.
Kevin “Groovyola” Loughman
Tenor sax • Founding member from 1980 to 2023
Multi-instrumentalist and arranger Kevin Loughman began his musical training as a sophomore at Morristown High School when he took up the saxophone and played in various school productions and concerts. Under the guidance of his music teachers (Dr. E. Paul Giersch, Louise Sundstrom, and Edward Height), he studied the fundamentals of harmony, theory, choral writing, and arranging. Percussionist / keyboardist Marguerite Fontana and Assistant Principal / French Hornist Stephan Christen—both past members of the New Jersey Symphony—provided him with several years of keyboard, jazz, and orchestration instruction. Kevin spent a year studying arranging and orchestration in New York City with Grammy winner Don Sebesky. He has written arrangements and orchestrations for big bands, octets, vocalists, vocal ensembles, concert bands and wind ensembles, and various string ensembles, and has been credited with creating the “Groovyola” style.
Throughout his years in music, Kevin has played in jazz, soul, rock, and big bands. He has performed in back-up bands for Bob Hope, Bobby Rydell, The Coasters, The Drifters, and others. Kevin plays saxophone, trombone, clarinet, and oboe. He performs regularly with a variety of musical groups.
Kevin is an original member of the Silver Starlite Orchestra, its former manager, and wrote many of the band’s arrangements. He is married with two daughters and is retired from a career in law enforcement.
Guitar • Member until 2020
Long-time Silver Starlite guitarist Ernie Macchiarella is currently on sabbatical and is using that as an excuse not to turn in his bio.
Bass trombone • Member from 2021 to 2022
Jose Maunez is a trombonist, educator, arranger and conductor whose performances have included solo work, big band, orchestra, salsa band and chamber music. He has been a soloist with the University of Central Florida Wind Ensemble and Brass Ensemble, as well as the Rutgers Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band. Jose has performed commercially for the Walt Disney World Co., and has played with such artists as Ray Charles, Arturo Sandoval, Carl Fontana, Michael Mossman, Ralph Bowen, Jeff Rupert, Sean Jones, Tony Vega, Tito Nieves, La India, Plena Libre among others. He has played internationally in Fukui Japan as well as in most of the fifty states. He is a founding member of Crescendo Brass and can be heard under the Mark recording label. Currently he can be heard with the Joey Katz Big Band and the band We Will Be Fine, among others.
Jose has been part of the Manalapan High School faculty since 2004 and has been the director of the Symphonic Band, Marching Band, String Orchestra, Choir, Jazz Band and the pit orchestra for the school’s musicals. During this time, the Manalapan music department has received several awards and recognition such as The Count Basie Theater Awards for Outstanding Orchestra in a Musical (2008 and 2014). Jose also received Manalapan High School’s Teacher of the Year honors in 2013.
Jose is a member of the All Shore Band Director’s Association, and has served the organization in several capacities (President, Vice-President, Ensemble Manager, etc…). He directed the All Shore Honor Jazz Bands in 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021 and will be directing again in 2022. Jose received the Band Director of the Year Award from the All Shore Band Directors Association in 2016.
Jose holds an Artist Diploma and Master of Music degrees from Rutgers University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Florida. Jose studied trombone with John Rojak, Michael Powell, Per Brevig and Roy Pickering.
Baritone sax • Member from 2018 to 2022
Silver Starlite’s former baritone saxophonist Jim Mayr performs extensively on all the saxophones, plus flute, clarinet, and drums; he also plays piano and guitar for his own pleasure. In addition to freelancing in the jazz, rock, and R&B genres, Jim is currently the Customer Service Representative for the woodwind accessories company Silverstein Works.
Jim has over 20 years of performance experience, including extensive playing for clubs, weddings and festivals. Two notable performances: playing bari sax with the house big band at the world famous Cotton Club in Harlem; and with The Fabulous Johnson Brothers, which attained a Top 20 rank in 19 Entertainment’s syndicated FOX television show, “The Next Great American Band.” In addition, Jim plays in pit orchestras, including Ohio State University’s production of The Rocky Horror Show. Jim has performed with Foley (bass player for Miles Davis and drummer for George Clinton), as well as in the bands of Ed Palermo and the late Frank Grasso. He also spent a year as director of the jazz big band, The Swing Machine. After Dot Cacchio retired, Jim was briefly interested in directing Silver Starlite until he came to his senses.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Jim has completed coursework at the Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts for their Master of Jazz Performance program. His teachers have included Ralph Bowen, Robert “Tigger” Benford, Stanley Cowell, Conrad Herwig, Joe Magnarelli, Richard E. Miller, Lewis Porter, David Riekenberg, Tim Ries and Charles Tolliver. His primary teachers in Columbus included Kris Keith, Bryan Olsheski and Vaughn Weister. He also studied jazz at DePauw University (Greencastle, IN) under Jim Connerley and Randy Salman.
In the spirit of “paying it forward,” Jim is now a teacher himself. He has taught both private lessons and in the classroom, spanning all skill levels from preschoolers—he is Music Together certified—to retired adults. Jim specializes in helping students speak the musical language with a vibrant and authentic sound. He is particularly interested in the skill of perfect (absolute) pitch, both for himself and teaching it to others. He developed and taught a unique curriculum that combines absolute pitch, French language and musical fluency in early childhood education classes.
Jim also dabbles in graphic arts design. His life’s great artistic vision includes melding advanced improvisational techniques with technology, and he is currently looking to collaborate with like-minded, jazz-influenced electronic musicians.
Drums • Member from 2008 to 2023
Walt Perelli began drumming with a local fife, drum & bugle corps in his hometown at about 10 years old. He eventually competed on the field as a snare drummer with the Secaucus Meadowlarks, followed by the Garfield Cadets and the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. He studied snare drum technique with Blacky Vescuso, Bobby Thompson, and Duke Terieri. Walt has also been a snare drummer with New Jersey Field Music Fife & Drum Corps and the New York Skyliners Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps.
While maintaining his competitive snare drum endeavors, at a young age he also began working with the drum set, eventually performing with several local rock bands. He studied drum set technique and reading with Carl Wolff, and later with Vince “Muzzy” Mizzoni. In the early ’80s he began playing with big bands.
Walt spent 25 years in the US Army National Guard, 15 of them as a drummer with the the 63rd Army Band out of the Military Academy at Seagirt, NJ. Over the years Walt has played steadily with wedding bands, Dixieland bands, big bands and jazz combos.
Walt was Silver Starlite’s drummer from March of 2008 until . He also plays frequently with other big bands in NY/NJ area, and for the past few years has kept busy with both big band and small jazz group performances.
Bass • Member from 2021 to 2022
Clayton Thompson began playing electric bass in middle school, and upright bass while attending Warwick Valley High School. Within a year of playing the upright bass, he successfully auditioned into the NYSSMA All State Jazz Ensemble, and continued to gig with his rock band throughout the Hudson Valley.
Clayton then attended the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase to study jazz bass, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in 2020. While attending Purchase, he began playing jazz professionally in New York City and the tri-state area. He continues to work as a professional musician, playing in several jazz, Latin and rock bands.
Clayton has studied with Todd Coolman, Doug Weiss, and Larry Grenadier. He currently lives in Wantage, NJ with his family and his Corgi, Gracie.