Winner of the BizBash Entertainment Act of the Year, voted 2014-2021 Best Band by Better Magazine, and acknowledged by Chicago Magazine as the “Top Choice” for a dance band in the city, the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra has ignited thousands of special events with its unique style, stage presence and contemporary music selection. The Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra delivers an incredible energy geared for today’s brides and grooms! Imagine a band with 6 incredible vocalists, our Sirens rock violins, sizzling horns, and the tightest rhythm section in the country. Using the latest technology, this band is able to perform from any part of the room and make it sound like a live concert of the original artist.Read More
As a sought-after orchestra leader and saxophonist, Ken Arlen has been a featured entertainer for numerous celebrities and dignitaries, from the President of the United States to Hollywood stars. Ken is also the founder of Arlen Music Productions, a Chicago-based entertainment company that specializes in providing live customized music for special events. He has led the transformation of the impact of music on this industry in Chicago, and over the last decade has brought this force to the national event scene through his performances with the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra.
Known as one of the most talented guitarists in Chicago, Lloyd has been key in leading special event bands over the last 6 years with great energy and attention to detail for his clients. Locally, he has performed with Girl Next Door, Green 14, Rendition, Hello Nuvo, and Hey Jimmy. He has also shared the stage with major artists such as Blues Traveler and Nate Ruess. As one of the great young front men in Chicago today, Lloyd’s style is inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Mayer, among other great virtuosos. Lloyd has already made a huge impact on Evolution, and we are excited to promote him to co-leader with Evolution beginning in 2019.Read More
Prior to beginning her tenure with Arlen Music, Caitlin developed her unique abilities as a musician through a variety of opportunities, including featured roles in musical theatre, leading and performing in multiple pop, jazz, and cover bands at legendary venues both nationally and throughout Chicago, arranging and singing with a female a cappella quartet, and engaging clients as a spokesmodel and performer for Toyota. Her powerful and versatile voice makes Caitlin a treasured member of Evolution!
Michael Avery is one of the Windy City’s best-kept secrets. A professional front man and studio vocalist, he has performed at some of the most prestigious private parties and events in Chicago and abroad. His experience includes performances with the Chicago Catz, a European tour with Mavis Staples, lead vocalist of the legendary Staple Singers, as well as singing a duet at a recent gala in Jamaica with Gladys Knight. Mike also enjoys expressing himself as a songwriter, believing that music is a healing force that crosses all barriers. Mike recently released his latest CD, Destination Love. His first love, however, will always be live performance.
Cristina Sanchez, a Ken Arlen Orchestra veteran (’01-’05), returns her trailblazing R&B sound to our vocal team. A Chicago-based recording artist and two-time winner of New York’s legendary “Night at the Apollo Theatre,” Cristina lights up the stage with her magical mix of Classic Soul, Latin, and R&B/Pop. With a performance style that rivals prominent artists such as Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, and Rihanna, Cristina has a soulful and rhythmic edge that mesmerizes audiences. Her debut single, “Free,” stayed on the Billboard R&B Singles and R&B Singles Sales Charts for seven weeks. Cristina was recently chosen to perform on R&B star R. Kelly’s world tour, has sung with Frayne and Bobby Lewis and Heather Headley, and toured as a solo artist in China as well as other European venues.
Ben Scott started singing at the age of two, and hasn’t stopped. He studied music at Western Michigan University, where he performed all over the world with the legendary vocal jazz ensemble, Gold Company. Ben has shared the stage with many great musicians, including Kurt Elling and Take 6. He has toured across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji with the many choirs and jazz ensembles that he has been in. He has also performed in Northern Michigan at Dill’s Olde Towne Saloon and the Shanty Creek resorts, giving him a chance to showcase his wide vocal range and ability to perform in many different styles. Since moving to Chicago, Ben has performed with many of the top-rated party bands in the city, and is very happy to be able to perform with the Evolution Orchestra.
Neil is a graduate of the American Conservatory of Music, where he studied both classical and jazz performance. He has become one of the most in-demand session keyboard players in the city and has recorded hundreds of TV and radio commercials. In the summer of 1998, Neil was specially chosen as one of the select musicians to perform and record the opening theme of the Oprah Winfrey Show. He has also performed with such nationally known artists as Luther Vandross, Bebe and Cece Winans, Martha Reeves, Gladys Knight and Ed Thigpen.
A top session player from Chicago, Mark is a master of both acoustic and fretless bass. He has accompanied numerous jazz artists including Diahann Carroll, the Count Basie Orchestra, the BBC Big Band, the Artie Shaw Orchestra, Dave Liebman, Rosemary Clooney, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, Lena Horne, Carol Lawrence, Angela Bofill, Michael Brandmeier and Mark Madsen. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House with Vic Damone.
Frank Alongi has been creating music professionally for over 15 years. He has toured Central and South America with the rock group "Torre Fuerte” and holds an endorsement with Innovative Percussion Inc, and percussion innovator Kelly Shu. Frank is known for his ability to move effortlessly through various styles and for his expertise at incorporating electronic drum loops with a traditional drum set. We are thrilled to bring Frank’s unique brand of drumming to the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra!
Chris Neal is an exceptionally versatile musician. He has shared his talents as a vocalist and saxophonist in the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America. He has shared the stage with The Temptations, The O’Jays, Manhattan Transfer, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Randy Brecker, Donald,Byrd, R Kelly, The Joffrey Ballet, Syl Johnson, and Umphrey’s McGee, and he is thrilled to be a lead vocalist in the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra!
Victor Garcia is one of the most in-demand trumpet players in Chicago. He has had the opportunity to play with a multitude of artists from a wide variety of genres, such as Aretha Franklin, Arturo Sandoval, Spoon, Victor Manuelle, Nicholas Payton, La India, Fred Hersch, the Temptations, Steve Turre, Tito Puente, Jr., Paquito d'Rivera, Randy Brecker, Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Dr. John, Joshua Redman, the Isley Brothers and a multitude of others. His travels have taken him to Europe, Central America, and South America. In addition, he has recorded dozens of albums, two of which garnered Grammy nominations in 2005 (Angel Melendez & the 911 Mambo Orchestra) and 2008 (Sones de Mexico), and one which was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2007 (Sones de Mexico). Victor also maintains a busy teaching schedule at the Music Institute of Chicago, Loyola University, Roosevelt University and University of Illinois at Chicago. We are excited to welcome him to the Evolution Orchestra!
Andrew is a dedicated member of the Low Down Brass Band, Black Bear Combo, The Drastics, and Deals Gone Bad and of course, the Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra. Andrew toured with the acclaimed Broadway Musical ‘In the Heights’ and the Number Group Soul Revue, backing legendary Chicago Soul Artists Syl Johnson and Renaldo Domino. He performed at the White House two times for President Barack Obama with Black Bear Combo. He has also performed at numerous major music festivals, including the Cotai Jazz Festival in Macau, Wakarusa, Riot Fest, Wilco Solid Sound Festival, Abruzzo Jazz Festival, Turbo Rock Festival in Italy, Montreal Ska Fest, Lansing Jazz Fest, Rootabaga Jazz Festival, and the Oprah Winfrey European Cruise Celebration.
An East Coast native who began playing percussion in 1972, Rick has recorded with some of Boston’s top artists, including Patty Larkin. He moved to Chicago in 1998, recording on commercials for top corporations including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Dominos, Kellogg’s and many others. Rick has worked with members of the backing bands for John Mellencamp, Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Billie Holiday, and Ben E. King, as well as Chicago acts Tirzah and The Primal Connection, Chicago’s multi-ethnic World rhythm percussion ensemble.
Sylvia has been performing in the Chicago area for nearly fifteen years. After receiving a Masters in Music from the New England Conservatory in Boston where she studied with James Buswell, Sylvia moved to Chicago to perform with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Since then, she has appeared with artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Smokey Robinson, Barry White, Donna Summer, Celine Dion, Johnny Mathis, Lyle Lovett, Randy Newman, Dennis DeYoung, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Bernadette Peters, Josh Groban, The Irish Tenors, as well as the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra and Rockford Symphony. She has broadcast live on WFMT and WTTW Soundstage. Sylvia also maintains teaching studios at Near North Montessori School and Northeastern Illinois University.
Rebecca holds degrees in Music Theory from the University of Illinois and the Eastman School of Music. An Oak Park native, Rebecca has a rich and varied musical background. She has played in numerous symphony orchestras, backed such popular artists as Bobby Vinton and The Moody Blues, performed in avant-garde chamber works, and toured the US and Europe with the company of Amsterdam choreographer Beppie Blankert. Recently, Rebecca has performed in premieres of works by contemporary composers Augusta Read Thomas and Louis Andriessen, and has sung with Bella Voce, a Chicago a capella choir.
Caroline is a graduate from DePaul University. She is currently the Concertmaster of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra in Iowa and was featured as a guest soloist performing the Saint-Saen’s Violin Concerto No. 3. She is also a member of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. She has played in the orchestras for the Joffrey Ballet Company, the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra and several different opera companies. Caroline has had the opportunity to perform with such celebrities and bands such as Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, Andrea Bocelli (on the Oprah Winfrey Show), Charlotte Church (in Hawaii), Garth Brooks, Celine Dion and Josh Groban (nationally televised), Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin (Page-Plant Tour), The Moody Blues, Kansas, Electric Light Orchestra, The Temptations, Mannheim Steamroller, Diana Ross, The Three Irish Tenors, and others. She enjoys freelancing in the Chicagoland area and plays in various chamber and quartet ensembles as well.
Sarah and Zach Spellman Wedding (Chicago Hilton & Towers) – November 27, 2021
Ken, thank you doesn’t even begin to express the amount of gratitude we have for you and your team! You helped create the most spectacular and magical evening for our family! We will cherish it and remember it forever.
The dance floor was full and the room was rocking….and that’s all because of you! The compliments we have been receiving about the music have been endless. I always say an amazing event is created by the love in the room and the music. I think we nailed it on both parts!
When I think about all the big moments in our family, you have been right there with us. It wouldn’t be a Spellman celebration without you!
We look forward to the future and having you right by our side.
With gratitude and affection,
Ariel and Nathaniel Bobrick Wedding (Private Residence) – June 13, 2021
Just got home from one of the most gorgeous weddings I’ve ever been to…and words cannot express how impressed I am by bands who can play LIVE music but mix it like a DJ. These band/these singers were so talented. They bounced from genre to genre. Tempo to tempo on a single beat. No intros. No outros. That’s some serious talent and must take hours upon hours of practicing TOGETHER to achieve that level of perfection. If you’re ever at an event and have this kind of entertainment, understand they probably don’t get enough props so always make sure to show them love. I fell people don’t truly appreciate how much work that is.Adrienne Hanover, Wedding Attendee
Sophie and Andy Barr Wedding (Arden Shores) – October 2, 2020
Tom and I want to let you know what an amazing job Lloyd did at Sophie's and Andy's wedding. He played a huge part in the overall success of the night. We had issues with rain before the ceremony, but all was handled calmly and professionally and went off without a hitch. The music was beautiful. From the cocktail hour to the very end of the night, everything moved seamlessly. Lloyd and the band drew everyone to the dance floor from the moment they started to the very last song. We never had to worry about a thing which allowed us to enjoy every single minute along with all the guests.
I can't tell you how many people told us that it was the best band they had ever heard at a wedding. We want to thank you, Lloyd and the band for helping to make our daughter's wedding extremely special.
Neil Trainor and Elizabeth Slawin Wedding (University Club) – November 23, 2019
Thank you so very much for making Neil and Elizabeth’s wedding so spectacular. Your band really put it over the top!
Thank you, also, for adding “Forever Young” to your repertoire. (Just love the lyrics!) Wishing I had more children so I could look forward to planning another wedding with you!
You’re the best!
Elizabeth Slawin and Neil Trainor Wedding (University Club) – November 23, 2019
It's Monday and I'm still smiling at the memory of Saturday night.
YOUR BAND IS PHENOMENAL!!!
I cannot thank you enough!
Thanks again and I look forward to seeing & hearing you in the future!
Ryan McKeveny and Mary Kozelka Wedding (Art Institute of Chicago) – November 16, 2019
Hi Lloyd - Before heading to our honeymoon Mary and I wanted to thank you - you and the band were absolutely incredible! The night was the best we could’ve imagined and you guys were a big part of that. And thanks again for letting us add some late additions to the playlist and for letting Pat join you guys for a couple!
Hope to run into you again someday, possibly at a friend’s wedding as you’re coming HIGHLY recommended from us!
Izzie Griffith and Ron Vandixhorn Wedding (Chicago Cultural Center) – November 2, 2019
If you're going to splurge on anything, Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra is the place to do it! Everyone left our wedding saying it was the best wedding they had ever been to, and in large part because they couldn't stop talking about how incredible the band was. The best part about Ken Arlen Evolution is that everything they do is aimed towards making your wedding spectacular. From learning that song that you just have to have played, to working with you to create the perfect playlist, they are focused on what you want and then find a way to make it even better than you envisioned. And on the big night, they absolutely killed it! They brought energy, flare, amazing vocals, and were a main reason why we all had so much fun celebrating.Izzie, Bride
Whitney Mash and Justin Levin Wedding (Peninsula Hotel) – October 26, 2019
What a terrific party. Whitney and Justin along with Barb and I cannot thank you enough for the best time ever. Most guests when thanking their host will offer kind words as to being included and having a very nice time. Our crowd young and old would all comment that this was the best wedding they had ever attended.
The Arlen experience was exceptional from the first note on the staircase to the very last dance of the evening. Your attention to detail and masterful play list customized to the Bride and Groom's tastes really stood out. You don't just play the music but add performance to the experience. A shout out to all the Evolution performers.
Just wish it could have gone on forever.
You deserve your reputation as the best band anywhere. A unique experience most appreciated.
Thanks so very much for creating such great memories,
Libby Munson and Peter Graham (Theater on the Lake) – October 19, 2019
Wow! Thank you so much for last night!! You guys were even more amazing than we remember from a few years ago.
All of our guests kept coming up to us and saying, “What is this band? Where are they from? Where did you find them?” It was like we were at a concert – everyone couldn’t stop watching you all perform!
You really made the party so much fun and we appreciate you so much!!!