PKE is
leader, string bass:
Paul Keller
Ellen Rowe
Sean Dobbins
Keith Kaminski
Paul Finkbeiner

Chris Smith

Susan Chastain

Chris Smith...trombone

Chris SmithChris Smith the PKO's lead trombonist. He is the eldest of twelve children in a musical family. "Christo" joined the Bird of Paradise Orchestra in 1990, took several hiatuses for practice a la Sonny Rollins' "bridge time", and became the band's lead trombonist in 1995. Today, Chris is a valuable member of the Paul Keller Orchestra's arranging team supplying many fine compositions and big band charts. He appears regularly with many other groups, most notably James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band. Christo is one of those rare birds who enjoys playing traditional and modern jazz equally. He has an enormous collection of jazz trombone recordings, with a concentration on J.J. Johnson, Jack Teagarden and the virtually unknown Hollywood trombonist by the name of Abe Lincoln. While Christo can be a stone-faced, frighteningly loud trombonist at times, close listeners will notice his penchant for dry-yet-warm humor, both spoken and musical. As Paul Keller likes to say:

"He is imposing, yet gentle......
Do NOT fear him......
He is your friend......
He is the mighty Christo!"

Smith is becoming known as an authority on jazz trombone legend J.J. Johnson, having written several Johnson articles and reviews and interviewed him over the Internet. He was a consultant for the discography of a forthcoming Johnson biography by Louis Bourgois III and Joshua Berrett, to be published in summer 1999 by scarecrow press. His own discography of Johnson's work as jazz trombonist, composer, and arranger will soon to be on the Internet through his page, at

Chris Smith is a member of the seven piece Paul Keller Ensemble which plays every Wednesday night at the Firefly Club in downtown Ann Arbor, MI.

Along with pianist James Dapogny, Chris co-leads Phil Oglivie's Rhythm Kings, a 10-piece band that plays dance music and popular tunes of the 1920s and 30s. Chris plays sousaphone in Phil Oglivie's Rhythm Kings. PORK can be heard every Sunday afternoon at the Firefly Club from 5:00 till 8:00 PM.

Christo was inspired by great teachers in his youth, among them, the great Ann Arbor trumpeter Louis Smith and the late Dr. Morris Lawrence of Washtenaw Community College, with whom he performed at Carnegie Hall in 1989. He maintains a teaching studio and is diligently training a few of the new millennium's up-and-coming trombonists.

Contact Chris at

the band