Meet the Band
Drums and Band Leader
Since his return to San Diego in 1993, third generation drummer Alden Merrill has performed with many of San Diego’s busiest musicians. An elementary school teacher during the day, when not leading AM Jazz for various private occasions he has been the driving force behind the San Diego Sophisticats for the past 21 years, the American Flyboys Big Band since 2014, as well as freelancing with other groups.
Alden has performed in ensembles supporting the likes of Lou Rawls, and has been featured in groups opening for B.B. King, Percy Sledge, The Coasters, The Drifters, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and Bobby Blue Bland.
An exciting technician in the tradition of Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson, Alden performed at the 2008 National Association of Music Merchants (N.A.M.M.) tradeshow in Los Angeles in a “Tribute to the Masters” show sponsored by the Ford Drum Company, which can still be viewed on YouTube.
Alto and Tenor Saxophone
For over 20 years, Jim Weiss and Alden Merrill have performed in many of the same musical ensembles with styles ranging from Oldies Rock N’ Roll, Thumping Blues Bands, to Hard Swing.
Jim is not only a consummate professional, but is also a lifelong student of the saxophone who can be seen regularly performing with some of San Diego’s most notable groups.
Dane Blackburn has been playing guitar since age 12, cutting his teeth in a 1970's Rock & Roll band through High School. In the 1980's and 1990's Dane gigged with various pop rock bands, finally delving into jazz at the turn of the millennia.
In Chicago, Dane soaked in the Blues/Jazz atmosphere while taking lessons from popular Chicago guitarists Don Tisch and Neal Alger. The lessons paid off when Dane landed the guitar chair in the prestigious College of Lake County big band.
One of Dane's fondest memories is having played with legendary drummer Joe LaBarbara, and soloing on one of Joe's original tunes when he came as a guest performer at CLC.
Since moving to San Diego in 2011, Dane has played in various ensembles, and has held the guitar chair with the American Flyboys Big Band since 2013.