Chuck Gardner


Featured Inductee

After 24 years of distinguished Service in the USAF band program, Chuck Gardner expanded his legacy as a pianist, producer, and composer. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame alongside legends Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, J.J. Cale, and other notable figures in the annals of History. Gardner is no stranger to such company, while throughout his career he has worked with many great minds all over the world, including his 12 year stent in Colorado Springs playing and arranging for the USAFA Band's Falconaire Jazz Ensemble.

As a child growing up in Waterloo, Iowa, Gardner studied classical piano and in the early 1950's he was introduced to the sounds of Jazz in the form of Bud Powell, George Shearing, and Oscar Peterson. Gardner recalls, "My parents didn't know, but I would go out to the Colored Elks Club and listen to the guys play songs out of the Great American Songbook but in a different way...with the style of Bud Powell and all those guys". Soon his professional career started with the Vance Dixon Orchestra playing dances across the Mid-West, including the famous Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

In 1957 Gardner joined the Air Force Band program and began arranging for Jazz Orchestra. While playing with the Air Force Band of the Pacific's "Pacificaires," his arrangement of 'Waltzing Matilda" was performed along with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and highlighted on Australian Television Network. As his reputation as an arranger and musician grew, Gardner's opportunities expanded with a mentorship from composer Henry Mancini which lasted for several years. "I brought an arrangement of "Dreamsville", a tune Mancini wrote, "and he ripped it apart" Gardner remembers.

Gardner's contribution to the city of Colorado Springs started with his tours in the NORAD Command Band as a guest artist. The NORAD band was comprised of exemplary musicians from U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Canadian Armed Forces. The NORAD Command Band performed on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show, the Steve Allen Show, and the Bell Telephone Hour. Gardner, accompanied by the Band, also performed as a soloist in Famous Carnegie Hall.

In 1966 Gardner was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy band when their mission was heavily impacted by the Vietnam War. Carrying the traditions of the USAFA academy band, "We still did noon formation for the cadets, graduation, and all of the ceremonies" Gardner remembers. Alongside The Academy's mission, Gardner represented USAFA by directing, rehearsing and producing recordings for Armed Forces Radio with entertainers like Anna Maria Alberghetti, Rosemary Clooney, Irene Kral, Gisele MacKenzie, Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere and the Raiders. The Falconaires performed stage shows with jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, jazz saxophonists Kim Richmond, Ray Pizzi and Pete Christlieb, drummers Louie Bellson and Ed Shaughnessy, vibraphonist Gary Burton, and on many occasions, Bob Hope.

Retiring in San Antonio, TX at Lackland AFB, Gardner and his wife Sandy continued to perform together. Chuck's service continued to his family and eventually the community of Tulsa, OK. Writing, arranging, and directing continue to fill his time. Chuck has provided expertise as a clinician for high school and college music festivals nationwide and has directed, rehearsed and written arrangements for local singers and shows produced at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame since 1992.


D.C. Minner was born January 28, 1935. He was raised in Rentiesville by his grand mother, Lura Drennan, who ran a corn whiskey house while he grew up. “There was no electricity anywhere around, so she would have the guys come over with their acoustic guitars. That was my first time hearing live music.” said Minner.

Minner moved away when he joined the service. After he returned, he took up bass and worked out of Oklahoma City with Larry Johnson and the New Breeds. With this band, he performed behind O. V. Wright, Freddie King, Chuck Berry, Eddie Floyd, Bo Diddley and many more.

He moved to California in the late ’60s and had a band with Tony Mathews in Hollywood. Then he moved to the bay area, retired from bass, studied Yogananda, took up guitar and ran into his future wife, Selby. She was playing acoustic guitar and singing blues at clubs in Berkeley and San Francisco. With a desire to learn the electric bass, Selby became D.C.’s apprentice, and they left the bay area in 1977.

D.C., Selby and Blues on the Move toured non-stop for 12 years, and then returned to D.C.’s home place. They re-opened the Cozy Corner as the Down Home Blues Club in 1988, and it quickly became an after hours club. In 1991,
the Minners founded the Dusk ’til Dawn Blues Festival as a way to bring their fans and musician friends together from across the country.

The couple has received the Handy in Blues Education award, for their Blues in the Schools work, the Keeping the Blues Alive Award and in 1999 Minner was also inducted into The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. However, his proudest accomplishment was having his hometown rename part of the road that runs alongside the club in his honor. D.C. and Selby currently reside in Rentiesville, Okla., on D.C. Minner Street.

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