Meet the Band
Al Sofia | Band Leader
Al Sofia began his singing career at the age of fifteen performing in a number of groups. Early on, Al collaborated with five other musicians to form Eden Rock, his first professional recording and performing act. Eden Rock was a dominant force on the music scene in the Chicago area and throughout the Midwest with their dynamic stage show and local hit single, “In Paradise”.
Al left the group after 6 years and resumed his studies at the American Conservatory of Music where he earned a Performing Arts Degree in Voice. During and after college he continued his vocal career working with the Lyric Opera Chorus, as an industrial recording artist, and as a freelance soloist.
Al’s first black-tie project was called Al Sofia and Spirit. This group originally began as a four piece rhythm section supporting Al’s lead vocals. The success of this project soon led to the addition of a brass section and a female vocalist. In reflection of the group’s ever changing repertoire, the ensemble now performs as The Al Sofia Orchestra. The Orchestra, which can be configured as a moderate or large sized group, often performs with thirteen band members including Al, two female vocalists, a four-piece rhythm section, a two-piece brass section, three violins, and a sound engineer.
Al has performed with many nationally recognized artists throughout the years including Jay Leno, Kenny G, The Temptations, Melissa Manchester, Tom Dreesen, Paula Poundstone, The Fifth Dimension, The Drifters and others.
Prompted by rave reviews and high demand for The Orchestra, Al formed the talent agency, Al Sofia Music, to handle sales and marketing for the group. Al Sofia Music soon began expanding in its own rite, and currently handles management activities for other bands and specialty entertainment acts. Although his business activities are sometimes demanding, to the great delight of his audiences, Al’s musical priority has always been, and will always be, his singing and performing. He is a vocalist and performer above all else, and his passion for his art is abundantly evident in his work.
Pianist and Musical Director
Michael is the Orchestra’s pianist and overall musical director. In addition to his work with the group, Michael is a professional church musician, accompanist, and music educator at the high school level. He has performed both as a soloist and with music groups throughout North America and Europe, and is a published songwriter. Michael received his Bachelor of Music degree from Millikin University, with additional graduate studies at Concordia and Roosevelt Universities.
Brian is the group’s guitarist , and an accomplished musician in all types of pop and jazz styles. He has performed with nationally recognized artists such as Gerry Mulligan, Tito Puente, and James Moody. Brien has a Bachelor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, and a Masters of Music degree from Northern Illinois University.
Originally from Sandwich, IL, Leslie started her musical endeavors at a young age, singing, playing piano, and playing trumpet. Gaining performance experience in music and theatre through school, the community theatre, and the Yorkville Big Band, Leslie graduated from Sandwich High School in 2000 and moved to Chicago to attend the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) at Roosevelt University. Graduating in 2005, Leslie earned a Bachelor’s of Music degree with honors, focusing in jazz voice performance.
Saxophonist Doug Angelaccio has been performing in the Chicago area for over ten years. He studied music at DePaul University, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies in 1997. From there, Doug went on to lead two of Chicago’s most successful swing bands: The Big Swing and Three Cent Stomp. The groups have toured all across the country performing at festivals, corporate functions, and venues such as the House of Blues, Ravinia, and Symphony Center. An award-winning arranger and composer, Doug’s music has been heard on WGN, WXRT, WDCB, and WBEZ radio, and is featured on numerous recordings. In addition to being a regular member of The Al Sofia Orchestra, he continues to compose, teach, and perform throughout Chicagoland.
At a young age, Helen Blazie began studying music and violin as a student of the great George Perlman. She then went on to pursue a Performing Arts Degree from Indiana University where she was concertmaster and soloist for the college’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Helen has performed with The Chicago Symphony, The Chicago Chamber Orchestra, and The Joffrey Ballet Orchestra, as well as at the Arie Crown, Schubert, and Chicago Theaters. Helen has also performed in live shows for national recording stars such as George Benson, Bobby Vinton, Bernadette Peters, Julio Iglesias, Tony Bennett, and The Temptations.
Marc Rio is an accomplished percussionist who has performed throughout the world in live performance, theater, television and studio settings. He has worked with some of the world’s finest and most prominent musicians including Ron Eschete’, Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin, Gary Willis, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and John Entwhistle of the Who. In addition to his performance accomplishments Marc is also well known internationally as a music educator. Over the past ten years he has worked as a master percussion instructor and clinician from Japan to Texas to Hollywood, California where he taught along side Carl Schroeder of Sarah Vaughn and Frank Sinatra fame.
Larry Frisk has been providing Sound Engineer, DJ and Production services for the Al Sofia Band since 2008. Since the late 90’s Larry has worked with acts of many diverse musical styles, from Rock to Punk, Pop to Funk, and Theatrical to Classical. Gaining experience in many venues in the Chicago area such as the Double Door, the Metro, The Trump, Drake, and Four Seasons Hotels, as well as venues like the Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, McCormick Place, and many more. As a DJ and MC, Larry has worked with hundreds of satisfied Brides and Grooms, as well as providing entertainment for clients such as: Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Boeing, BP/Amoco, Culvers, Hair Cuttery, Pampered Chef and more. Larry takes pride in helping great performers sound and look their best, knowing that the even the greatest performers will only reach a small number of people by themselves, but with the right production, they can be enjoyed by thousands of people.
Gerald Bailey holds a Bachelors degree in trumpet from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters in composition from DePaul University. He has performed with The O’Jays, Richie Cole, Mumford & Sons, The Walkmevn, Syl Johnson, Judi Silvano and Balkan clarinetist Jim Stoynoff. He has appeared on CNN performing at the White House, alongside Diana Krall in the 2009 movie Public Enemies, and on ABC News with actor/singer Michael Ingersoll.