meet us

The Protagonists have been making music together since 1990. They've been hailed by music critics, audiences, children, and drunks alike as a band without equal in San Antonio. Their specialty is classic jazz in the tradition of Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson. No fancy noisemakers, no electronic gimmicks -- just great improvisational music.

Audiences of all ages have been delighted with the Protagonists. Their style is a cool blend of the old and the new, with classic jazz standards like "Mood Indigo" and "Blues By Five," mixed in with out-of-the-way numbers like "Dido's Lament (from the opera Dido and Aeneas)" and "Amazing Grace," further mixed with unlikely recent tunes like "Thriller" and "The Boy is Mine," as well as a steady stream of originals, all performed with playfulness, confidence, and high style.



DARREN KUPER is the drummer for the Protagonists. While earning a degree from UTSA, he was the guitarist/composer for the popular rock group Bluecanoe. Since switching to drums in college, he has become renowned for his swing style, and has performed and recorded with numerous artists, including the Ron Wilkins Four-tet, Ron Westray of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the irreverent swing band Spank Sinatra, and award-winning children's folksinger Owen Duggan, for whom Kuper contributed to the album "An Elephant Never Forgets," which was honored by the Parents' Choice´┐ŻAwards and the National Parenting Publications Awards in 2006.



String bassist GREG NORRIS is a sought-after performer and studio musician. He attended the prestigious University of North Texas, known for its jazz program. Norris performs with the history-making Jazz Ambassador and Texas Women's Hall of Fame member Beverly Houston (named Best Female Vocalist eight times by the Current Music Poll), the Gypsy Jazz Trio, and Latin Grammy winners Lara and Reyes.



Pianist BARRY BRAKE began playing at the Gunter Hotel as a high-school student, before earning a Composition degree from Baylor University, and a Master's in English literature from UTSA. He is now a free-lance composer, arranger, producer, and performer of music, with numerous film soundtracks, stage shows, commercials, and CDs to his name. The San Antonio Current has described him as a "respected pianist-composer" whose music "captivates us all." His clients include Subaru, China Unicom, Taco Bell, The Wall Street Journal, and Sea World. In 2007 he produced the album "I'll Take Romance," for singer Ken Slavin, who was named Best Musician of 2006 and Best Vocalist of 2007 by the Current Music Poll.



If your event were a movie, we'd be the soundtrack.

For centuries, festivities have included musicians.

Banquets, balls, barbecues and black tie dinners are all so much better -- more lively, more memorable -- when accompanied by musicians.

That's where the Protagonists come in. We play jazz music that underscores your event with a unique, pleasant atmosphere. If you want to talk, you can do it -- comfortably. If you want to dance, swing away.

If you want to just sit and listen, though, we're a great show. In fact, the SA News Music Awards voted us as the 'Number One Jazz Band in SA.' We've done fashion shows, galas, art gallery receptions, weddings, nightclubs, and Naked Water Polo tournaments. [well, ok, we haven't quite done everything, but we're flexible.]

So many 'jazz' groups end up playing something that sounds more like rock -- boisterous, gadgety, intrusive.

Not us. We do the real stuff, the stuff that makes you feel ten feet tall, the stuff that makes you glad to be alive. Music that makes you cool just because you're hearing it. Jazz the way you remember it.

And, for what it's worth, we look nice, too.

Why not get the Jazz Protagonists to play at your next thing? We promise:

· Great Classic Jazz
· Professional Musicians -- in every sense of both words
· Very Affordable Rates
· We won't make fun of you if you look like a geek

...and that when your event rolls around you'll be hearing, 'Blah blah blah, blah blah -- and the music is wonderful!'