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James “Butch” Rodak grew up in Orlando, Florida. His love of music started in 3rd grade when he learned to play the accordion. In junior high school, he found that he also enjoyed the saxophone and later added the clarinet and flute. After high school, he earned an Associate of Arts degree from Valencia Community College in 1977. While there, he led two student bands, wrote arrangements and original music, and performed for President Ford. In 1980, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education at the University of Central Florida. Rodak was a participant of the First International Solo Saxophone Competition in Gap, France, in 1978. He learned under master saxophonists Roger Decker, Dr. Gerald Welker (UCF), Dale Underwood (U.S. Navy Band), Reg Jackson (Univ. of Maryland), and Sigurd Rascher.


After college, Rodak taught music and wrote for the marching band at Liberty Junior High School in Orlando. He was an adjunct professor for the University of Central Florida jazz band in 1981. Additionally, he performed as a freelance musician. He performed at Walt Disney World in Orlando as a percussionist for three winter seasons: Herald Trumpets (1980 and 82) and Toy Soldiers (1980 and 82). In addition, he wrote an arrangement that Disney approved for the Jungle Book Band (1981). He wrote all the arrangements and conducted the pit band for the 1981 Miss Orlando Competition. 


Rodak enlisted in the Navy in 1983. Upon completion of recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois, he was assigned to the Navy School of Music and graduated first in his class. His first tour of duty was with Navy Band Great Lakes in Illinois, where  he played saxophone and clarinet in marching and ceremonial units, as well as instrumentalist, vocalist, and arranger in the jazz ensemble and contemporary entertainment ensemble. While in Great Lakes he composed the official march of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, The Spirit of Great Lakes.


In 1985, Rodak auditioned and was selected for duty with the U.S. Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, Maryland.  He was the wind ensemble saxophone soloist, and a member of ceremonial units, jazz band, and saxophone quartet. He wrote many small ensemble arrangements (often woodwind quintet with saxophone). 


In 2001, he was promoted to Master Chief Musician and selected as the Senior Enlisted Leader for the U.S. Naval Academy Band. After his Navy retirement in 2013, he remained in Maryland. He enjoys freelancing again, and supports his church choir and contemporary band by writing arrangements and original music as needed. In 2020, his premier presentation of the Christmas Cantata, Can You Believe This?, was filled with his arrangements, original songs, and script.   


His life is blessed with wonderful family and friends, grandchildren, still learning about music, traveling the world, digging into ancestry, and long-distance running.

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