Mike Shellans has been performing professionally on
piano and trombone since age 17, joining the American
Federation of Musicians in 1975. Over the course of
his career, he has played for such world renowned entertainers
as Bob Hope, Liberace, Sammy Davis, Jr., and George
Burns; led his own groups; collaborated on a wide variety
of musical projects with many local musicians, and recorded
commercial CDs of his original music.
Mike was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and was
introduced to music at an early age. His father, Herb
Shellans, traveled the hills of North Carolina recording
rural people singing folk songs for his book, Folk Songs
of the Blue Ridge Mountains
. Mike's mother Harriet had
a Master's in flute and piano from New York City College,
and filled the family home with Broadway show tunes,
classical and popular music. The family relocated to
the southwest when Mike was 5.
Mike started piano lessons at age 8, and trombone approximately
one year later because, he said, “the first sound I
made on the instrument made the other kids laugh.” Throughout
high school, Mike honed his passion for Jazz and improvisation,
and listened to a variety of musical styles. While attending
the University of Arizona, Mike formed the band Atmosphere
with well-known bassist Brian Bromberg. The group was
Mike's first experience with writing and arranging pieces
for an intimate ensemble, and the quartet became popular
at college nightspots throughout the Tucson
Mike has studied with a number of noted educators during
his career, including Gail Wilson, Tom Ervin, Jeff Haskell,
Ladd MacIntosh and Grant Wolf, and pianist
Armand Boatman. While under the tutelage
of Bill Yeager at the L.A. Jazz Workshop, Mike was recognized
for his creativity and vitality as a Jazz improviser and his warm sound.
When the opportunity to begin teaching music presented itself, Mike returned to Arizona. While teaching
part-time at ASU, Phoenix College and Grand Canyon University,
Mike also performed on trombone with many of the valley's
finest Jazz musicians including Cleve Huff, Dennis Rowland,
Tony Malaby, Francine Reed and Fred Forney. Mike traveled
with the ASU Big Band to 1983's Playboy Jazz Festival
where the band, under the direction of Chuck Mahronic,
won first place and performed at the Hollywood Bowl.
As a freelance studio and show trombonist throughout
the 1980s and most of the 1990s, Mike had the privilege
of working regularly with a wide variety of artists,
including Robert Goulet, the Four Tops, Natalie Cole,
the O'Jays, Henry Mancini, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees,
and the Temptations; he also performed annually with
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In one
memorable performance, Mike shared the stage with the
Moody Blues in front of an audience of over 10,000 fans.
Local ensembles he has contributed to over the years
include Rena Haus and the Reptiles, Tonál, the Greater
Urge, and the Extreme Decibel Big Band.
Mike continues in his teaching career at Arizona State
University, virtually pioneering the field of online
study for the College of Fine Arts. Together with an
innovative and dedicated IT team, Mike has crafted Internet
music survey courses on the Beatles, Popular Music/Rock
& Roll and Elvis Presley, which continue to be among
the most popular offered at the college. During his
20+ years on the music faculty, Mike has received Outstanding
Faculty Associate honors as well as ASU's Sun Award,
presented for exemplary customer service and fostering
Approached by a local publisher in the late 1990s to
write a book on Rock & Roll, Mike collaborated with
Sandy Schaefer (Chadron State College) and Don Smith
(Glendale Community College) on Here to Stay: Rock &
Roll Through the '70s
. Mike contributed a detailed song
analysis to the textbook, which is currently used as
a reference at universities and can also be purchased
online from various sources. His second book is in stores now;
it may be purchased online from Gloria Bahr
at the ASU bookstore.
Who is the Greatest: Elvis or
is an in-depth comparison of these
powerhouse groups. A relevant textbook suitable for
Music History or Popular Culture survey courses, this
volume presents a wealth of facts and context surrounding
the music in an entertaining and easy-to-read style.
When he was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a lung disease
that would eventually rob him of over 50% of his lung
capacity, Shellans retired from fulltime trombone work
and focused on Jazz piano and keyboards. He was co-founder
and principal arranger for the Metro Phoenix Jazz Orchestra,
building an impressive portfolio of big band arrangements
of standards and originals, then turned his attention
to various recording projects. Mike also continues to
appear as a clinician for the Arizona Association of
COLLEGE and GRADUATE
Master of Music Degree in Trombone Performance from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz and Contemporary Media from University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
trombone and electric bass.
1990 - present
Senior Lecturer at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, teaching Popular Music/Rock and Roll
Music of the Beatles
, and Elvis Presley
, web-based survey courses for non-music majors, designed by this instructor,
with an enrollment of 650 students per section each semester. Other instructor-created survey courses taught
include Contemporary Music and Society
(Fall 1998 and Spring, 1999). Over 35,000 students have taken these
various courses since their inception.
2000 - present
Adjudicator, clinician and performer for the Arizona Association
of Jazz Educators Jazz Institute workshops, Phoenix and Tucson.
1999 - 2000 & 2006
Adjudicator, clinician and
performer for the Mountain Side Jazz Festival, Scottsdale,
1991 - 1994
Adjunct Faculty at Grand Canyon University teaching jazz piano, jazz combo, jazz improvisation,
jazz history and serving as assistant director and performer
with the concert jazz band.
1990 - 1991
Assistant Band Director at Phoenix College teaching jazz band, fundamentals
of contemporary harmony, jazz improvisation, jazz piano,
and serving as assistant director of the concert band.
1982 - 1990
Graduate Teaching Assistant/Faculty Associate in Jazz Studies at Arizona State University, teaching
concert jazz band, jazz combo, jazz fundamentals, jazz piano, jazz/rock ensemble, jazz styles and analysis,
modern arranging and Jazz in America
1982 - 1984
Private trombone, piano, theory, and Jazz Instructor at the Desert Music Workshop, Tempe, Arizona and
at in-home studio.
Mr. Gail Wilson - Associate Professor of Music, Arizona State University
Mr. William Yeager - Associate Professor of Music, University of California, San Diego
Mr. Roy Main - Los Angeles City College
Mr. Thomas Ervin - Tucson Symphony/Associate Professor of Music, University of Arizona
Studied jazz with Mr. Richard Fazio and Mr. Armand Boatman
Mr. David Cohen - Professor of Music, Arizona State University
Mr. Ronald LoPresti - Professor of Music, Arizona State University
Mr. John Gibson - University of Arizona
Mr. Joe Bethancourt
Mr. Doug Marshall
May, 2009 - present
Keyboard, composer and arranger with Powered by Jazz, a small group performing jazz originals as well as standards.
2006 - 2007
Keyboards and arranger with the Big News Band, a contemporary
worship jazz ensemble.
2005 - 2008
Keyboard and electric bass with the BeTalls, a Beatles and Classic
Rock cover band.
2004 - 2006
Keyboards and arranger with Ken Taylor Sextet.
2003 - 2005
Pianist, arranger and trombonist with Jazz Bones, ASU's 10-piece
trombone ensemble directed by Mike Crotty.
2002 - 2004
Pianist with Mike Rebb Jazz Quartet, performing at Phoenix
2000 - 2005
Co-founder, keyboards, composer/arranger, and Artistic Director for the Metro Phoenix Jazz Orchestra,
a ten-piece instrumental ensemble performing in the
1996 - 1999
Pianist, trombonist, and composer/arranger for the Extreme Decibel Big Band, performing throughout Arizona.
1995 - Present
Pianist, trombonist and arranger with Glendale Community College Big Band.
Organist with Vidbel's Old Tyme Circus, touring New Jersey and
1987 & 1988
Arizona State University - Master's Recitals
1982 - 1987
Pianist and trombonist with the Valley Big Band directed by Grant Wolf, performing
at Phoenix venues.
Lead trombone with the Arizona State University Jazz Band, performing at Playboy Jazz
Festival in Hollywood, CA.
1982 - 2001
Trombone or piano for nationally touring road productions of 42nd Street,
The Nutcracker Ballet, Zorba the Greek, Camelot, A Chorus
Line, Peter Pan, City of Angels, Guys and Dolls,
other shows. Also performed for Arizona productions
of Pal Joey, West Side Story, Girl Crazy, The Music
Man, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, They're Playing Our
Song, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Unsinkable Molly Brown,
Annie Get Your Gun, My Fair Lady, Carousel, The Big
River, Annie, The King and I, Damn Yankees, South Pacific,
Oliver, Gypsy, 42nd Street, Hello Dolly, Pirates of
among other shows.
Trombone or piano for local appearances of The Ice Capades, Disney on Ice, Ringling
Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus, Moody Blues, Bob
Hope, Sammy Davis, Jr., Liberace, Johnny Mathis, Rodney
Dangerfield, the Four Tops, Harry Blackstone, Jr., the
Temptations, Vic Damone, Henny Youngman, Gladys Knight
and the Pips, Lou Rawls, Louis Bellson, Billy Eckstein,
Bernadette Peters, Glen Campbell, Suzanne Summers, Red
Skelton, Donna Summer, Jay Leno, Andy Williams, the
O'Jays, Henry Mancini, the Platters, Barbara Eden, Robert
Goulet, Wayne Newton, George Burns, Dionne Warwick and
Burt Bacharach, Phyllis Diller, Jim Nabors, Natalie
Cole, Ray Charles, Frankie Valli, Eric Marienthal, Bobby
Shew and others.
1981 - present
Free-lance work in Phoenix,
Tucson, Los Angeles and Palm Springs, including casuals
and commercial studio recording.
1980 - 1982
Lead and jazz trombone and piano, Los Angeles Jazz Workshop A
and B bands directed by Bill Yeager, performing at Disneyland
and various festivals.
Lead and jazz trombone and
arranger, Arizona State University Jazz/Rock Ensemble,
performing at the NAJE Convention in Albuquerque, New
1976 - 1979
Lead and jazz trombone, University of Arizona Concert Jazz Band, directed by Jeff Haskell.
Principal or section trombone, University of Arizona
Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Opera Orchestra and Collegium.
Tuba ensemble piece "Funky Chunk" premiered in Sapporo, Japan by the Arizona State
University Tuba Ensemble, Dan Perantoni, conductor.
Piece is now part of that group's performance repertoire,
conducted by J. Samuel Pilafian.
Brass Quintet piece "Septemus" premiered at Banff Music Festival,
Canada (1989), and also performed at Keystone Brass
Summit by the Fiesta Brass.
1985 - 1996
Composer, arranger and performer with Rena Haus and the Reptiles, recording
two compact discs for commercial release.
1985 - 1986
Composer and performer with El Teatro Ensemble de Arizona,
a bilingual theatre troupe using an original music format
and touring schools in Arizona, California and Mexico.
1984 - 1985
Composer-in-residence for Childsplay, a
theatre group for children, arranging and performing
original music for two productions.
1983 - 1986
Composer, arranger and performer with Tonál, a Phoenix-based Latin/Reggae/Rock
band with more than fifty original tunes in its repertoire.
1980 - 1984
Composer, arranger, and conductor of original
music for the Arizona State University Jazz/Rock Ensemble.
1978 - 1979
Co-founder and composer, arranger and performer with the
the jazz group, Atmosphere,
featured in concert at the University of Arizona, including
senior recital at U of A in 1979.
1976 - 1979
Composer, arranger and performer of music for the University of
Arizona drama productions including The Crucible, Merlin,
The Rimers of Eldrich
and Feiffer's People.
1975 - 1988
Classical compositions include a trombone quartet, brass
quintet, pieces for trombone and piano, two trumpets
and two trombones, woodwind trio, solo piano, flute
and piano, orchestra, and symphonic band. Various
Jazz compositions written for big band, combo and studio orchestra
have been performed by various groups in Arizona and California.
CLINICS and WORKSHOPS
1978 - 1979
International Trombone Association conferences.
University of Arizona Summer Music Camp.
1975 - Present
Clinics with various performers, including Bobby Herriot, Dizzy Gillespie,
Marian McPartland, Dexter Gordon, Dave Friesen, Clark
Terry, Bill Watrous, Gary Burton, Ron Carter, Stan Getz,
Bill Evans, Bud Brisbois, Frank Rosolino, Bobby Shew,
Pete Chrislieb and others.
1972 - 1975
Northern Arizona Summer Music Camps.
Arizona Bluegrass Association
2000 - 2006
Arizona Association of Jazz Educators
1996 - Present
Jazz in AZ
1979 - 1980
National Association of Jazz Educators
1978 - 1996
International Trombone Association
1976 - Present
American Federation of Musicians, Local 586
GRANTS, AWARDS and DISTINCTIONS
SUN Award, Arizona State University, for
exemplary service and promoting ASU.
$6,000 research grant from the College of Fine Arts, Arizona State University,
to develop distance learning and new music curriculum.
1997 - 2000
Certificates for 'Outstanding Contribution
to Student Life' awarded by the ASU College of Fine
Outstanding Faculty Associate award from
the College of Fine Arts, Arizona State University.
$500 cash award included.
Certificate of Achievement from Billboard Magazine Song Writing Contest
for “Lights Out at the Reptile House”.
1982 - 1987
Graduate teaching assistantships at Arizona State University.
J. Haldeman Scholarship for original music, university
drama productions, University of Arizona.
Los Angeles Theatre Arts award for best music in an original college
, (University of Arizona, performed
at Lincoln Center, New York).
John Phillip Sousa Award.
Who Is the Greatest: Elvis or the Beatles?
, with William Slater, published by Dorset
Group. Textbook comparing these two artists was implemented in the classroom the Fall semester of 2006.
Here to Stay: Rock and Roll through the '70s
ed., with G.W. Sandy Schaefer and Donald S. Smith. Text
is currently used at several colleges;
published by Gila Publishing Company.
Compact Disc of original compositions in the genre of Modern Jazz:
2009 Pearls of Wisdom
, Powered by Jazz
Compact Discs of original compositions in the genre of Pop/Adult Contemporary:
2005 Creatures of Habit
2004 Living in Absentia
MEDIA APPEARANCES and
BeTalls performance: KTVK-TV “Good Morning Arizona”
Interview: “Logging Into Class a Popular Option” published in ASU's Web Devil
Slater & Shellans performance on KTVK-TV “Good Morning Arizona”
Slater & Shellans performance
on KPNX-TV (NBC) “Arizona Mid-Day”
Interview: ASU's Elvis Presley course, KPNX-TV (NBC)
Interview: ASU's Beatles course, KPNX-TV (NBC)
RECENT MUSICAL INTERESTS
Bluegrass music and its related instrumentation, particularly
mandolin; also studying tenor guitar and electric bass.
Listen to a variety
of Mike's compositions