Warren Wiegratz received the WAMI Award for Reeds/Brass Player of the Year an unprecedented 12 times prior to his Hall of Fame induction.
Early in his career, he joined Milwaukee-based Sweetbottom (1973-1980), a highly acclaimed jazz/fusion group which recorded five successful albums including two on the Elektra/Asylum label. He later formed Oceans (1981-1990), a contemporary jazz group that recorded two nationally released albums. They led to appearances on NBC’s Today show, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS Sports.
Warren has performed and recorded with countless renowned artists including Phil Collins, George Duke, Al Dimeola, Daryl Stuermer, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Supremes, Steve Smith, Jaco Pastorius, Wayman Tisdale, Chris Spheeris, Bobby Caldwell, Eric Benet and many more.
Scoring credits include two motion pictures (Dreamweaver, Lady MAry) and his tune Felicia is featured on the soundtrack of the film, “I Love You to Death." He’s won several Addys for scoring commercials. Mr. Wiegratz’s original orchestral concerto “Three Scenes for Contemporary Jazz Saxophone and Orchestra” has been performed throughout the state.
Warren’s solo version of The Star Spangled Banner has received national acclaim providing countless opportunities for him to perform it at sporting events across the country.
Herman, one of the greatest big band leaders of all time, was born Woodrow Charles Thomas Herrman in Milwaukee on May 16, 1913. He began performing at age 6. As a student at Marquette University, he began playing with several regional big bands.
In 1934, he joined the Isham Jones (“It had to be You”) Orchestra. When Jones left, Herman wisely took over and in 1936 reformed the “Woody Herman Orchestra,” known as “the Band that Plays the Blues." This first band recorded on the Decca label.
By 1943, the Woody Herman Orchestra was evolving into the first “Herd.” It was a wild, good-time band with screaming ensembles, propelled by first trumpeter Pete Candoli. By 1945, the (first) Herd was considered to be the most exciting big band in jazz, progressive in style. Popular hits included “Caldonia,” “Your Father’s Mustache” and the classically-based “Ebony Concerto.” Woody established himself as the bandleader with the modern repertoire, always cutting edge with creative music.
In mid 1947. Woody formed a new orchestra called the Second Herd aka The Four Brothers Band.
Herman’s other bands include the Third Herd (1950-1956) and various editions of the New Thundering Herd (1959-1987).
In the early 1970s, he toured frequently and began to work more in jazz education. Herman, who might have taken it easy, kept on touring and working into his 70s. Failing health led to his death on October 29, 1987,
His music lives on through more than 80 recordings. Herman also received four Grammy Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Originally from Oshkosh, Janet’s decades-long career as an accomplished jazz vocalist launched following her success at a high school talent show.
Since those early years, Janet’s busy concert schedule has taken her to performing arts centers, universities, jazz festivals and jazz clubs across the USA and internationally.
Jazziz Magazine hailed her as a “Voice of the New Jazz Culture … amazingly powerful with seemingly limitless expression.” To date, Ms. Planet has performed alongside such legends as Jackie and Roy, George Benson, Nancy King, Ellis Marsalis, Gene Bertoncini, Marian McPartland and WAMI Hall of Fame member John Harmon.
Known for her unique vocal stylings, Planet employs a faultless technique to the service of phrase and text. Her clear but easy diction explores surfaces and recesses alike. In ballads, even sambas, the beauty of her tone takes her performance to a level of its own. Cadence Magazine says of Janet: “She displays uncanny vocal virtuosity … voice and lyric can be heard as one.”
In addition to performing and recording, she co-founded Stellar Sound Productions, a record label that has consistently earned praise from reviewers. She also owns Steel Moon Recording Studio in Oshkosh with her husband, musician Tom Washatka.