Member Profiles


Larry Okmin - Clarinet and Sax, Leader

At age 11, after hearing a recording of Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall Concert, Larry was hooked on jazz.  He started on clarinet and later took up the saxophone. An original member of  the South Market Street Jazz Band, he and the band played at San Diego’s iconic Mickey Finn's Speakeasy, had gigs at Disneyland, traveled across the U.S., and did two overseas USO tours. Along the way he found time to go to UCLA Dental School and became an orthodontist.  A member of High Society since 1987 (the "Tuba Man" days), Larry took over leadership in 2007 - the fun never ends!

Billy Hawkins - Trombone and Vocals

Billy started playing Dixieland at Rosie O'Grady's Good Time Jazz Emporium while just a high school kid in his home state of Florida.  He honed his jazz skills even more in New Orleans while attending Louisiana State University.  Billy came to California to join the music faculty at Palomar College where after 30+ years, he recently retired.  Versatile in all styles of music, Billy is one of the busiest musicians in town!  Billy's fluid trombone and stylish vocals have added a nice touch of class to the High Society Jazz Band.

Jay Berman - Keyboard and Vocals

A classically trained pianist, Jay practiced Ophthalmology in San Diego for 30 years "to support his music habit."  Jay's been a mainstay High Society for two decades. He knows thousands of songs - from Dixieland to musical theater, Tin Pan Alley to Rock n Roll - audiences and fellow musicians appreciate his versatility as a pianist, singer and entertainer.

Joe Meza - String Bass

As a boy, music filled Joe’s family home.  He loved listening to big band music and soon became attracted to the string bass.  By age 18 he was playing professionally with a variety of jazz combos around San Diego and Los Angeles.  Years later, and after retiring from his “day job” Joe is enjoying the music scene, renewing old friendships and making new ones.  We are happy to have Joe in the HSJB!

Rick Evans – Trumpet, Vocals

Rick loves his trumpet.  He wanted to play music since early childhood and his long and varied career proves his wish came true.  From middle school music teacher to performing in Nevada casinos to cruise ship musical director, Rick has done a lot.  Since moving to San Diego a few years back Rick is just as busy.   He plays in numerous musical ensembles, and of course, the High Society Jazz Band is his favorite!

Don Kuhli, Drums

Don's a Chicago boy but has lived out west for many years.  A graduate of San Diego State University (Music), he's not only a fine percussionist but a well respected high school band director.  Don excels at all styles of music from big band to musical theater to small combos.  He keeps High Society "on time" and swingin'!