Our Artistic Director
Michael-Paul Gurulé has been conducting, composing, and performing for over 2 decades. His repertoire spans from Baroque composers through modern works. Michael's original compositions and arrangements have mostly been for choirs and large ensembles. Michael studied classical saxophone and composition as an undergraduate, followed by a graduate degree in choral conducting at the University of Western Washington under Dr. Leslie Guelker-Cone. He has arranged several pieces especially for WSJS and its unique sound.
Michael's other roles include founder and director of the Bellingham gypsy jazz group Nuages, and the Manouche NW concert series. As a saxophonist, Michael-Paul Gurulé is an expressive and vibrant performer. His sound ranges from quiet, reflective, introspective to burning, swinging, intense. Michael's specialty is the soprano saxophone where he draws on his classical experience with influences from moody Russian romantic composers to playful French impressionists. This is mixed with the sounds of New Orleans, leaning on Sidney Bechet.
Michael's vision for jazz in Bellingham is largely driven by a belief that people want music that they can connect with and dive into. He believes that jazz is the modern American art form, on par with European baroque music. For Michael, the artistic language of jazz has infinite possibilities. Jazz returns the concert practice of through composed music with improvisation. Through community singing, we can create opportunity for more people to learn to love and embrace this incredible language. WSJS has given Michael the opportunity to combine his passions for conducting choirs and performing jazz.
The WSJ Trio
Conner Helms, Piano
More info soon...
Sarah Yates, Bass
Sarah Yates is a bassist and educator whose playing has been described as elegant, lyrical, and nuanced. She is studying at Western Washington University, where she participates in both jazz and orchestral ensembles while pursuing a degree in music history. Sarah loves being able to share her passion for jazz and musical communication with young people through her work as a teaching assistant and jazz band director at a local school. When not in class or at work, Sarah performs in several ensembles, including the rhythm section of the Whatcom Sound Jazz Singers and the Bellingham-based jazz quintet Nuages.
Melanie Sehman, Drums
Melanie Sehman is a drummer, percussionist and educator who enjoys performing in a wide variety of styles. A classical percussionist by training, she specializes in experimental and contemporary music that explores improvisation, gesture, the relationships between music, text and the physical experiences of sound. Melanie enjoys collaborative work with composers, performers and artists in other disciplines, and exploring alternative modes of music making. She maintains a creative practice as an improviser and performs regularly with the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Northwest Opera, Bellingham Chamber Music Society and the local bands Cat Valley and Hooves and Beak. Melanie received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music where she also earned the Performer’s Certificate.
"Through community singing, we can create opportunity for more people to learn to love and embrace this incredible language... (of jazz)"