Meet the Band
Band members who frequently perform with JMO include:
Robert Maxwell - Bandleader, Drummer
Carrying on the heritage of drumming from his father and grandfather, Robert continues the tradition of Maxwell men who have been playing drums in New Orleans since the 1930s. Robert began playing drums at the age of thirteen, and has gone on to arrange, record, and perform internationally. Graduating from Louisiana State University with a Bachelors' of Arts in Music, he has played for such celebrities as Laura Bush, Steven Seagal, Brett Favre, and James Carville, and shared the stage with artists including Lee Greenwood and famed Frank Sinatra bandleader Leo Ursini. Robert has been the primary arranger and recording engineer for contemporary rock/funk/pop band Darwin (with whom he also toured the west coast) and up-and-coming pop star Kara Mann. He has also performed with the Art Monastery Project in Italy for two summers as the drummer-in-residence. In 2010, Robert began to take over as conductor for more than 25 annual Mardi Gras balls from his father, Jimmy, including Rex and Comus. An award-winning percussionist, Robert has recorded in New York, Florida, and Louisiana with the Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band, LSU Wind Ensemble, Southern Mississippi Marching Band, and JMO.
Jimmy Maxwell - Bandleader, Piano
Jimmy Maxwell is a society bandleader and pianist, as well as the founder and Executive Director of JMO. Blending the styles of Lester Lanin and Peter Duchin, he performs for debutante balls, charitable galas, and private parties across the U.S. and abroad in addition to providing the music of the New Orleans Mardi Gras. Jimmy also serves as director of the Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band, has conducted for Harry Connick Sr. in “A Tribute To Frank Sinatra with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra,” and performed for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, as well as members of the British Royal Family. Dubbed the "King of Mardi Gras Swing!" and "The Musical King of Carnival Balls" by The New Orleans Times Picayune, Jimmy has been the band for top social functions in New Orleans since 1981. From 1985 to 1989, Jimmy was partners with Peter Duchin, the famed society band leader from New York City. JMO’s performance at the 1988 Republican National Convention landed him on the front page of The New York Times along with Nancy and Ronald Reagan. President George H. W. Bush later invited him to play for the first anniversary inaugural ball at the Kennedy Center along with Harry Connick, Jr., Tony Bennett and Chubby Checker. Today, Jimmy continues to run the day to day business operations for JMO as his son, Robert, takes over the conducting of the band.
Denny Leroux - Vocalist, Guitarist
Denny Leroux - singer, guitarist, composer, recording artist - is a master at influencing the mood of a party. His unique stage presence and wonderful rapport with audiences make every appearance electric. Whether it's sweet and low sounds for dinner music, or wild driving party rock that gets everyone onto the dance floor, savvy party-givers know that Denny can play with the best. And play it he has - everywhere from Broadway to concert halls, society galas to corporate events, rock concerts to nightclubs. Denny's career experience has included performances with artists as diverse as Jimi Hendrix and Lester Lanin, in addition to sharing the stage with performers such as Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow and Whitney Houston. Debutante dances in New York, benefit galas in Palm Beach, inaugural balls in Washington, birthday parties in Nice - Denny has delighted audiences all over the world.
Leo Ursini - Saxophonist
Leo Ursini is a musician and bandleader that has seen and done it all! Throughout his career, Leo has emerged as a preferred choice for elite patrons across America and abroad. He has played with bands that backed Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Aretha Franklin, Sammy Davis, James Brown, Donna Summer, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Jack Jones, Rich Little, Vic Damone, Diahann Carroll, Tom Jones, The Supremes, Johnny Mathis and many others. Leading bands of any size and configuration, at celebrations of every conceivable description, Leo orchestrates a gala with the passion and precision of a poet lining a sonnet. He deploys his inexhaustible repertoire with astute judgment, with cultured taste, with an intuitive genius bordering on the magical: his saxophone articulates the elegance of a Gershwin tune or the jaunty society posture of a Cole Porter dance; his flute evokes a Latino mood or a classical interlude; his clarinet struts a little Dixieland with intrinsic flavor and identity intact, and he interprets the jubilant works of the king of rock ‘n roll with a bold imperative.
Julie Jules - Vocalist
Julie was born to a musical family in New Orleans and started her singing career doing Broadway style revues in The Big Easy. She later graduated from Loyola Music School in New Orleans (1979) earning her Masters Degree in music theory and composition. During the 1980’s Julie performed and recorded with the Dukes of Dixieland and has shared the stage with such notable entertainers as Henry Questa, Jack Immel, Big Tiny Little and Dick Dale from the Lawrence Welk Show as well as Tommy Newsome (The Tonight Show Orchestra) and New Orleans own Sam Butera.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to sing songs that had wonderful lyrics, told stories and shared emotions,” says Julie. In addition to belting out a Bessie Smith or Sophie Tucker song you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear the influence of Ella Fitzgerald and a Cole Porter song sung the way Mr. Porter intended it.
Julie has performed and recorded with scores of well-known jazz musicians, and has been a headliner at countless jazz festivals around the world. Some of the venues include: The L.A. Jazz Classic, The Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, The Phoenix Jazz Festival, The Las Vegas Jazz Fest and The Portland Oregon Jazz Festival. She has also appeared at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, Disneyland, The Sun Dome in Phoenix, AZ, The Horizon Resort, Lake Tahoe NV, Harrah’s Reno NV; The AVI Resort, Laughlin, NV and the Excalibar in Las Vegas. A songstress with both a powerful and passionate voice, Julie brings a lifetime of experience and an extensive repertoire of songs to both JMO and Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band. Together with Jimmy Maxwell, she serves up an entertaining musical experience that is as exciting as it is distinctive. Julie remains at the very top of her field. Video of Julie Jules with the JMO cover band.
Mark Monistere - Vocalist, Saxophonist
With a father who was a bandleader, brother and sister playing classical piano, and his uncle a drummer, Mark grew up in the New Orleans tradition of a musical family. His musical career started at the early age of four years old when he received a curved soprano saxophone. Mark said at this time his major musical influences were a mixture of 1950s doo-wop and rock and roll groups, and New Orleans Traditional Jazz Bands. Performing on stage with his father’s band provided an experience that help shape him as a musician and an entertainer. Mark performed at Mardi Gras balls, on national television shows, for NFL Player parties, and for John Paul D’ Joreo, owner of Paul Mitchell hair products. At this time he was developing his piano and singing abilities in front of crowds that were surprised to hear such an old style come out of such a young man. Mark was taking classical piano lessons from his teacher, and at the same time he was learning jazz and doo-wop at home. His musical influences started to include singers such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Louis Prima, Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding. Mark became the first High School Louisiana All-State Jazz Vocalist. While learning and performing the music of great singers, Mark became heavily influenced by the music of tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. Performing mainly as a singer, his musical focus at home shifted to the saxophone. He then went on to get a undergraduate and masters degree in Jazz Saxophone from the University of New Orleans, performing in Big Bands directed by Ellis Marsalis, and studying with the great tenor saxophonist Ed Peterson.
In his professional career, Mark continues to perform in a wide variety of musical styles. Learning bebop and the music of many great jazz saxophonists was the major focus in his practice. He performs songs that had been popularized by singers such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Louis Prima, and Louis Armstrong. Listening extensively to Bach, Bobby Mcferrin, Johnny Hartman, and Kurt Elling, Mark became inspired to revisit the melodies of singers who’s music he had grown up with. At this point, fully embracing his role as a singer, he began to wow crowds with his ability to showcase his passion for the music with the cool confidence of a much older entertainer. Mark has shared the stage with Allen Toussaint, Ronnie Kole, Clarence “Frog Man” Henry, Edward Peterson, Leah Chase, Ellis Marsalis and many others. His voice is reminiscent of the styles of Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr, and Michael Buble with a unique presence of his own sound. Mark performs with the intensity of a jazz saxophonist combined with the playfulness, confidence, and smoothness of a great singer and entertainer.
Gavin Bell - Vocalist
Gavin Bell is a seasoned singer and actor, whose love for music and performing developed at an early age. The son of one of New Orleans' premiere jazz saxophonists, Gavin's love for the fine arts was always encouraged. He studied classical guitar in his youth, and attended New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), where he was a student of the vocal and drama departments.
As lead singer of the popular band "The Creators," he performed at proms, weddings and special events with band mates Branford and Wynton Marsalis. He continued his performance career as the lead singer of the nightclub band "Straight Ahead." Subsequently, Gavin excited audiences as the lead male vocalist with New Orleans' premiere tuxedo society orchestra, "Jubilation" for nearly a decade. His diverse vocal styling has enabled him to smoothly switch genres of music and successfully from a variety of musical productions.
Gavin Bell was cast as the title character in the Anthony Bean Community Theater production of The Wiz, and was also featured in the Chevy MLK television commercial, "Table of Brotherhood", that was aired nationally in conjunction with the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Sculpture in Washington DC.
Whether he's singing or acting, Gavin can't hold back the smiles, no matter how hard he tries; that's what happens when you find the perfect blend of passion and peace.
Brad Walker - Saxophonist
Brad Walker was born in Asheville, North Carolina, a city with a vibrant, creative culture that left a lasting impression. He began playing clarinet at age 11, switching to saxophone after one year. At Louisiana State University, where he enrolled in 2002 with a full music scholarship, Brad studied with saxophonist Dr. Griffin Campbell, a virtuoso classical performer who provided impeccable instruction as to technique and tone production. In addition, Brad studied improvisation and jazz with Dr. Willis Delony, Dr. William Grimes, and Prof. Brian McWhorter. As a soloist, Brad was featured as a classical performer with the Rapides Symphony, as their 2006 Concerto Competition winner, and also on numerous occasions as soloist with the LSU Jazz Ensemble, in which he played lead tenor for his entire college career.
Upon graduation, Brad spent two years in New York City. In addition to occasional gigs with Simon Lott and other musicians in the city, Brad twice participated in the School for Improvisational Music's NYC workshops, and was afforded the chance to see such luminaries as Joe Lovano, Paul Motian, Keith Jarrett, and Terence Blanchard on many occasions, all of whom had a major influence.
In 2009, Brad decided to return to Louisiana and dedicated himself full-time to music. In addition to successful pursuit of a Master of Music (Jazz Studies - 2011) degree from LSU, his career as a saxophonist in New Orleans and the region has quickly taken off. In addition to frequent performances with local New Orleans luminaries Simon Lott, Helen Gillet, Jonathan Freilich, Aurora Nealand, Jeff Albert, and others, Brad regularly tours the Gulf Coast region—from Key West, FL, to Houston, TX (and everywhere in between)—with guitarists/vocalists Thomas Johnson and Cam Pyle. Other highlights include performances at the House of Blues, d.b.a., Blue Nile, One Eyed Jack’s, the Manship Theater, Chelsea’s Café, and sharing the stage with musical legends Troy Davis, Bobby Shew, and Eric Lindell, among others.