Who are we?
Through dynamic performances and outstanding educational outreach, the Gateways Brass Collective (GBC), an all African American quintet, continues to break new ground inspiring artists from all backgrounds. The group was founded in 2018 and includes members Isrea Butler, Trombone; Eric Davis, French Horn; Richard White, Tuba Herbert Smith, and Courtney Jones, Trumpets. In addition to their work with the Gateways Music Festival, each member currently teaches at the collegiate level and regularly hosts educational clinics as well as masterclasses for students in elementary school through high school, college and beyond. Their love for music is equally matched by their dedication, passion and commitment to community and education.
The GBC is underwritten and sponsored by manufacturer, Conn-Selmer. Working closely with the company’s educational division, the band continues to pioneer innovative performances and workshops on topics like: How to Improve Your Practicing, Learning to Improvise, Audition Success and others specifically geared towards helping people develop their talents. To reach as many fellow musicians and students as possible, GBC regularly partners with historically Black colleges across the country; Universities Band Directors Symposium; the Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra, and Music Conference; Florida Atlantic University Brass Day and Buffalo State University. They are welcome fixtures at music festivals all over the country, including the Gateway’s Music festival, the Fringe Festival and many others.
Accomplished in multiple genres, GBC members have performed with orchestras, big bands, as soloists, on Broadway, commercial recordings, with indie bands and more. They’ve collaborated with the Count Basie Big Band, Orchestra of St. Lukes, New Jersey Symphony, Count Basie Orchestra, Cab Calloway Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Mingus Big Band/ Mingus Dynasty, New Mexico Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, David Byrne, Aretha Franklin, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Johnny Mathis and Bernadette Peters, among others. Their work has also been featured on Netflix, Lifetime Network, CW Network and movie soundtracks. And for their contributions to the arts, members have been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards.
The Gateways Brass Collective welcomes opportunities to collaborate with artists from all backgrounds. Each member’s individual journey to the stage demonstrates perseverance, a love for the craft and a genuine interest in paving the way for others to succeed in music. They hope their work with diverse projects and outreach programs will continue to support communities and encourage everyone to be a part of the discourse.
For more information on the Gateways Brass Collective and its individual members, go to https://www.gatewaysbrasscollective.com/.
Eric Davis, Horn
Hornist, Eric Davis leads a diverse musical life. He is in demand as a soloist, chamber, orchestral and Broadway, commercial recording musician.
Dr. Davis is the former Principal Horn of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Queretaro, Mexico, and La Kamerata, Chamber Orchestra in Greece, and currently performs with the Gateways Brass Collective, the New Jersey Symphony, the Princeton Symphony, and the Vermont Symphony
He is a 2018 Grammy nominee for the album “The Art of Arrangement” by Doug Beavers and has performed with The Roots on the Tonight Show, Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra Jr., Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
Dr. Davis is the Horn professor at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. His teachers include David Jolley, Douglas Lundeen, and William Brown.
Richard White, Tuba
Richard White began his tuba studies at age twelve at the Baltimore School for the Arts. He then went to the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he received his Bachelor’s degree. He received both his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Indiana, and became the first African American in the world to receive a DM, in tuba.
Dr. White is currently in his ninth season as Principal Tubist of the New Mexico Philharmonic. He enjoys teaching at the University of New Mexico, where he is Associate Professor of tuba/euphonium and Associate Director of the Spirit Marching Band. Please visit www.rawtubafilm.com to learn more about the award winning documentary in regards to Dr.Whites, inspirational life’s journey.
Dr. Isrea Butler, Trombone
Dr. Isrea Butler has obtained multiple degrees in trombone performance from the Eastman School of Music (BM and MM) and Rutgers University (DMA). His teachers include Dr. John Marcellus, Ralph Sauer, George Roberts, Tom Ervin, Michael Powell, and Weston Sprott.
As well as being a founding member of the Gateways Brass Collective, he has also played all four chairs in the world-famous Count Basie Orchestra and with many of NYC’s top jazz ensembles. In addition to orchestras and jazz ensembles, he has played trombone and tuba for eight NYC Broadway productions. Currently, he is the Music Department Head at Valdosta State University. He was the Music Department Chair at North Carolina Central University and Professor of Trombone from 2017-2021. He served as the Director of Bands and music program coordinator at The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Director of Jazz Studies and Low Brass at the University of Mary. Dr. Butler was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Trombone at Jackson State University where he taught trombone, conducted the University Brass Ensemble, Jazz Combo, and taught Graduate Music History. He has also taught at the Eastman School of Music, Juilliard School of Music MAP, and Rutgers University. His students have gone on to perform, teach and study at graduate schools such as Indiana University, Berklee, UNI, Rutgers, Eastman, University of Memphis, Towson University, and Montclair State.
As a conductor, Dr. Butler has been the conductor of the UMES Wind Ensemble, HBCU Trombone Choir, Associate Conductor of the Brighton Symphony, and Eastman Trombone Choir and Brass Guild. He studied conducting with Brad Lubman, Dr. William Weinert, Dr. Mark Scatterday, and Kynan Johns. While in NYC, he was a frequent performer on numerous Broadway shows and many other prestigious musical performances. He has toured, recorded, and performed with many of the country’s leading jazz orchestras including Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Mingus Big Band, Glenn Miller, Birdland Big Band, Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and the Jimmy Heath Orchestra. Also at home playing classical music he has performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Rochester Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Gateways Festival Orchestra, and the Colour of Music Festival Orchestra. Dr. Butler is a Conn-Selmer clinician and performing artist.
Herbert Smith, Trumpet
Herb’s teaching experience is varied as well, teaching musicians and non-musicians of all ages. He began his Artist and Residence work with the now disbanded Rochester Chapter of the Aesthetic Education Institute, and is frequently involved in residencies with the Rochester City School District and many school districts in the surrounding areas. Herb also does masterclasses and lectures on trumpet technique, endurance and sound production; works with high school bands and Orchestras as teacher and soloist; and teaches private lessons out of his home.
As a Composer he has been commissioned to write pieces for Brass Ensembles, High School Choirs, Jazz Ensembles and trumpet Ensembles, all the while composing for his jazz trio. Herb’s composition “The twelve tones of Christmas” for trumpet, piano and voice, was premiered in Carnegie hall in 2008. Recently Herb was commissioned to write a ballet for the Garth Fagen Children’s Ensemble. It was a 6-part work ranging in many styles including Reggae, classical, Jazz and Funk totaling over 40 minutes in length, a piece for High School Choir SATB that was premiered in 2014 at The Finney School and a fanfare for the dedication of the new Auditorium at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women.
Herb’s latest venture encompasses conducting. Herb had his orchestra conducting debut with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in January 2019, leading a show aimed at tearing down the musical hierarchy of classical music and bringing it to the youth. He is a faculty member at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he directs two Jazz bands and is frequently requested to conduct all county big bands in the surrounding counties of upstate NY.
Courtney Jones, Trumpet
The newest directions in 21st Century trumpet performance are being explored and defined by Jones, an award-winning Bach solo performing and recording artist who has also emerged as a leading figure in contemporary performance, chamber conducting, pedagogy, and service to inner-city youth through music outreach programs and mentorship.
Dr. Jones is in high demand as a clinician and adjudicator while transcending stylistic boundaries performing throughout North America and Internationally. In addition to his solo performance career, he has performed with the Golden States Pop Orchestra, the Southeast Symphony Orchestra, the Macao Orchestra (China), the Pasadena Orchestra, the Debut Orchestra, the Inspiravi Chamber Orchestra, the Orchid City Brass Band, the Oslo Philharmonic (Norway), the Long Beach Opera, the Chamber Singers of Iowa City, and the Salt-River Brass Band. His feature film and television credits include music performed for “Glee,” “Notes from Dad,” “Cougar Town,” and “Criminal Minds.”
Dr. Jones completed his Doctor of Musical Arts and taught at UCLA, served as Visiting Professor of Trumpet at the University of Iowa, Lecturer of Music at Columbus State University, and is currently the Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Artistic Director of Jazz and Chamber Ensembles at Florida Atlantic University.