Although the Magnolia Jazz Band regularly performs with up to six musicians, the nucleus of the band is Robbie Schlosser, cornet & string bass; Bill Napier, clarinet; and Paul Mehling, guitar & banjo.
Robbie Schlosser formed the Magnolia Jazz Band in 1975, as music was his main hobby up to then. He began learning violin in the third grade, cornet the next year, and string bass 27 years later. During high school and college, Robbie's musical interests focused on playing cornet in marching bands and French horn in concert bands and orchestras. After college he lived in New York state and worked as a scientist and a science teacher. He also played occasionally with several informal dixieland bands, including one named "The South Happiness Street Society Skiffle Band". Moving to northern California in the early '70s, he joined the South Bay Traditional Jazz Society, where he met many musicians he would work with over the next 20-plus years.
Robbie performs nearly every day with the Magnolia Jazz Band, and he manages the band's business. The Bay Area traditionally boasts plenty of wonderful musicians and lots of parties, and Robbie learned early that he preferred local work to life "on the road". Still, when time permits, he enjoys an occasional out-of-town performance with a few well-known musicians across the country. In the early 1980's, the Magnolia Jazz Band made seven recordings, toured through the west coast, the midwest and the east coast, and was a popular favorite at many jazz festivals.
During those years, Robbie performed occasionally with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans. A few years later, he worked as a regular member of the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, performing on a PBS TV special, several international cruises and jazz festivals, and numerous special concerts across the country. From 1991-1997, he appeared regularly with the Butch Thompson Trio, which received national fame on Garrison Keillor's PBS radio program, "A Prairie Home Companion". Robbie also free-lances occasionally with other local bands, including Clint Baker's New Orleans Jazz Band, The Hot Club of San Francisco, Hal Smith's California Rhythm Cats, and Big Mama Sue, and he keeps in touch with dozens of musicians each month. He continually learns from all his fellow jazzmen, and every day brings something new.
Born in 1926, in Asheville, North Carolina, Bill Napier has been interested in jazz since 1939. He began learning some things about music and the clarinet while attending a Jesuit boarding school at the age of twelve. Since then, music has been his main interest. He has performed with many semi-famous and famous musicians, and has recorded numerous times over the past 5 decades. In 1961, he toured Britain and the European continent with the Harlem Globetrotters road show, where he performed at half time with the famous Bob Scobey Frisco Band.
Now playing almost exclusively with the Magnolia, he enjoys some of the highlights of a lenghthy musical career. He is playing more creatively than ever before, due to the freedom of expression he finds with these fine musicians.
Paul Mehling began working with the Magnolia Jazz Band in 1978. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist (guitar, violin, bass, plectrum and tenor banjo, mandolin), his free-lancing with Bay Area groups includes work with the Abalone Stompers and with Big Mama Sue. Briefly with Dan Hicks' Acoustic Warriors, he appeared on Austin City Limits, among other venues throughout the country.
Paul is the founder and lead guitarist of the Hot Club of San Francisco, a group dedicated to performing and recording the music called Gypsy Jazz. Internationally known as an authority on the music of Django Reinhardt and other Gypsy swing players, Paul conducts clinics and private lessons when not performing with the Magnolia Jazz Band or his Hot Club.