The Sonoran Marimba Band is a quartet comprised of virtuoso percussionists (left to right) Jeremy Muller, Sonja Branch, Douglas Nottingham, and Brett Reed. Each has been active in the Phoenix area as performer, teacher and composer in genres of percussion ranging from classical to jazz to rock to world music. The group is committed to enthusiastic community engagement to promote a diversity of music and a greater awareness of the marimba and its place in modern music.
“While there are several fine groups around the country and the world, with some shared literature, the Sonoran Marimba Band is the only one in the Valley of the Sun offering such a wide range of styles and composers. And there is SO MUCH more out there that we want to play!” — Sonja Branch
Sonja D. Branch, D.Mus.A., holds degrees in music performance from Ithaca College and Arizona State University. A staff accompanist in the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, she also plays for dance classes at Grand Canyon University and leads the drumming for a weekly public West African dance class hosted by City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation. Along with her freelance work, Sonja performs on all kinds of percussion with the MusicaNova Orchestra, the Phoenix Opera Orchestra, Kawambe Omowale African Drum and Dance Theater, JI’s Island Steel, Grupo Liberdade, and also on guitarron and vihuela with Mariachi Corazón de Phoenix. A regular guest artist with the Phoenix Chorale, she was the featured instrumentalist on their 2008 Grammy-winning album Spotless Rose:Hymns to the Virgin M ary . In 2014, after many years as an assistant to late ASU professor and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Mark E. Sunkett, Sonja founded Ensemble Ndeye Soxna, a Phoenix based group dedicated to teaching and performing traditional Senegalese sabar drumming.
Believing that versatility really is the key to success, Dr. Branch also is interested in design and fabrication. She is a CertifiedSolidWorks Professional and likes to experiment with woodworking, welding, blacksmithing, glass cutting, printmaking, computer automated design, machining, additive manufacturing, and any other skill that strikes her as useful in better designing, building, modifying and repairing the tools of her musical trade.
Jeremy Muller is an inventive percussionist and multimedia artist dedicated to exploring science & technology with modern performance. He has presented performances, papers, and master classes at many venues throughout North America including The Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), International Computer Music Conference, ZeroSpace at the University of Virginia, Northern Illinois University, First Fridays in Phoenix, International Symposium on Latin American Music, the Musical Instrument Museum, and PASIC in Louisville, Columbus, Austin, and Indianapolis. He has given premieres of works by Mark Applebaum, Matthew Burtner, Alexandre Lunsqui, Cristyn Magnus, Lewis Nielson, Stuart Saunders Smith, and Andreas Stauder. Jeremy regularly performs with Crossing 32nd Street, hailed as Phoenix’s best new music ensemble and he often develops software for interactive new media in live performance. His music has been performed by the NIU “Bau House,” Glendale CC Percussion Ensemble, UNC Pembroke, Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble, and others. His publications can be found through Bachovich Music Publications, Engine Room Publishing, and Percussive Notes. Jeremy previously held fellowships at Arizona State University and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts from Arizona State University, a Master of Music from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Appalachian State University.
Douglas Nottingham has been active throughout the U.S. as a percussionist, performance artist, composer, music educator, recording artist and producer. As a performer he is experienced in diverse genres, running the gamut from symphony orchestras to jazz groups, contemporary chamber music to multi-media ensembles and original heavy metal bands to ethnomusicological ensembles. As a music educator he has enjoyed teaching all levels of students from elementary through graduate school.
As a solo percussionist and member of Phoenix’s Crossing 32nd Street and the New Mexico-based LINKS Ensemble he has specialized in the performance of contemporary chamber works; This has lead to rewarding collaborations and commissions with notable composers and performers from the US and abroad. He has appeared as featured artist at the conventions of the Percussive Arts Society, the Society of Composers, the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States, and the Society of American Music.
Dr. Nottingham is a faculty member at Glendale Community College, where he teaches electroacoustic music, digital recording, and commercial music. At GCC he also teaches applied percussion and directs the award-winning Glendale Community College Percussion Ensemble. In addition to his new music, solo work and creative research, he regularly performs with the marimba groups Vespus and the Sonoran Marimba Band, the transmedia electronica collective pincushioned, the acclaimed children’s music group Heidi Swedburg and the Sukey Jump Band and the infamous avant-garde heavy metal vaudeville rock group, Skümbââg.
Brett Reed is a performer and composer specializing in contemporary and improvised music. He regularly performs as a solo percussionist, as a member of several ensembles, including Crossing 32nd Street, the Tjader Project, Skin & Bones and as a jazz vibraphonist in solo and ensemble settings. Reed has also engineered, produced and/or performed on numerous recordings featuring the music of Mark Applebaum, David Arbury, Keith Kelly, Christopher Shultis, Stellacutta and Iannis Xenakis alongside the recordings of his own ensembles. In addition, Reed has had performances of his own compositions including works for solo percussion, chamber ensembles, and mixed-media groups. Brett holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego where he studied with renowned percussionist Steven Schick. Dr. Reed is currently the director of the Commercial Music and Percussion programs at Paradise Valley Community College.