About The Fountain Hills Saxophone Quartet
The Fountain Hills Saxophone Quartet formed in 2013 when Dale dusted off his sales skills and convinced his wife, Sue, to let him buy a baritone saxophone – the only instrument missing in the excessive collection of saxophones owned by the four musicians. Since then, the group has been delighting audiences in the greater Phoenix area with its expert musicianship and often-humorous, always-engaging rapport with audiences. The quartet includes:
Jeff Kelly (soprano). As the musical lead of the FHSQ, Jeff has the challenge of keeping us all playing in tempo and in tune. He’s certainly the right man for the job: born and raised in the Valley of the Sun, Jeff holds a masters in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University and a BA in music education from Arizona State University. His passion is teaching and nurturing a lifelong love of music in young people – and his success at this mission is evidenced by the long list of music teaching awards he has won over the years (too many to count; as musicians, we can only count to four). Jeff is often asked if he is playing a gold clarinet. Just for the record: it’s not a gold clarinet, folks — it’s a soprano saxophone.
Heather Baldwin (alto): Known as “the Captain” for her status as a U.S. Army vet, Heather sits in the alto chair because that’s the saxophone she likes best and she is just a tad stubborn (don’t tell her we said so). Heather is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied saxophone under James Forger. She came to the group with a penchant for classical saxophone repertoire, but we’re happy to report we’ve nearly trained that out of her. She now whips through the FHSQ’s extensive jazz repertoire — sometimes even without complaint. Heather earned degrees in English and music and currently supports her Starbucks habit by teaching piano and writing professionally.
Donna Wilde (tenor): Vocalist and saxophonist Donna Wilde joined the FHSQ in 2015, elevating our style with her incredible vocal talent. Let’s face it – everyone’s favorite part of a performance is when Donna sings and the rest of us just back her up. Donna earned a music degree at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and has done just about everything in music since then: show band member on Carnival Cruise Lines, backing singer/saxophone player behind big-name entertainers, public school music educator, songwriter. When she’s not playing with the FHSQ, you can find her performing with her duo WildeP’lay at many of the top music venues around metro Phoenix.
Dale Nelson (baritone): Dale does the heavy lifting for the FHSQ. Not only does he haul around the largest saxophone, he handles all our management, to include booking shows, coordinating rehearsals, finding new music and making friends with arrangers around the world to ensure the FHSQ gets first dibs on the best new literature and arrangements available. Dale also has penned a number of original arrangements for the FHSQ (you can usually tell a Dale arrangement because it features an extended bari sax solo). A graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Dale studied saxophone under Fred Hemke, then went on to a career as a medical products sales rep. We affectionately refer to Dale as The Badgerer due 10% to his alma mater and 90% to his unparalleled ability to badger the rest of us into practicing.