Gateway City Big Band

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As is often the case with the Gateway City Big Band, John Chruma became a member through the attention of a current band member. Kevin Schriewer, piano, invited him to rehearsals to play bass as a substitute. Also, he was encouraged to play guitar in order to learn the book and increase his playing time. He took over as section leader of the rhythm section in 2016.

John’s father had started teaching him guitar when he was ten years old. He played during high school at Francis Howell and in the jazz band at Truman State. His greatest influence was Freddie Green, guitarist with Count Basie.

John plays bass with the St. Charles and O’Fallon city bands. Playing guitar with the GCBB has presented a challenge for him because it had been several years since he played on a regular basis. He says the bass is more of a leadership role and the guitar is more of a supportive instrument. He enjoys the “voicing that complements the piano and acts as the tenor to the bass”.

John grew up in New Melle, St. Charles County. After achieving a Bachelor’s Degree at Truman State, he went to Central Missouri for a Master’s in Mass Communications. He is the Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, for CM Systems, supplying software to construction companies for accounting and costing. In his spare time when he isn’t playing with daughters Abbie and Amelia, he enjoys wood-working. He builds furniture and actually built the bed he sleeps in.


Our bass player and former rhythm section leader, Mike Bruce, joined Gateway in 1992. Over his over 45-year career, he has had a variety of musical experiences from being the "token white" in an all-black group at the age of 16 called "Kato and the Hornets" to playing in a bagpipe band.

After playing with a number of local groups while in high school, Mike joined the Army. When his tour of duty was over, he went to college studying the new, burgeoning field of computers. But by the mid-1970's, music called to him again and he went on the road with a show band. Following that experience he returned to school to get his degree in electrical engineering.

As a working musician, Mike has played with the touring bands of Jimmy Dorsey, Dick Jurgens and Sammy Kaye. He has also performed with the vocal groups the Ink Spots and the Four Aces. Other musical experiences include playing country music, bluegrass and Greek music.

Mike was playing in Illinois when he met drummer and former Gateway musician Jack Tartar, who invited him to play with the Gateway City Big Band in 1992. Mike really likes the band and its structure and discipline. The other musical groups that he played with did not require the extensive reading that Gateway needs.

Mike's music has a depth that only years of varied experiences can bring.  The band truly appreciates his skill and rock steady time.  Mike lives with his wife Mary Ellen in South St. Louis.

Jeff Mahoney - PianoJEFF MAHONEY


Read about the other band members

Music Director  The Vocalists   Sax Section  Trumpet Section  Trombone Section  Rhythm Section  Retired Band Members