Jazz Studies Coordinator
Montclair State University Jazz Ensemble/Jazz Piano
Dr. Jeffrey Kunkel (EdD, Penn State University; MM, New England Conservatory; BS, Penn State University) is Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Director of the Montclair State University Jazz Ensemble. Jeff previously served as the Associate Director for Faculty of the Cali School, and as Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Education. Jeff won the prestigious New Jersey Jazz Education Achievement Award in 2008. His personal musical endeavors focus on the unique music styles of Brazil. He has presented workshops and classes at the Federal University of Parana (Curitiba), UNIRIO (Rio de Janeiro), and has performed for several years at TribOz, a jazz club in the Lapa entertainment district. He released his first solo recording, Meu Coração Brasileiro (Delira Música) in 2013. The CD was recorded in Rio with Mauro Senise (flute/sax), Vika Barcellos (vocals), Alex Rocha (bass), Haroldo Mauro (drums and co-producer), José Arimatea (trumpet), and Mariana Bernardes (vocals), with lyrics being contributed by Ms. Barcellos, Fernando Corona, and Montclair State colleague Holli Ross. A long time board mfour-term four term president of the New Jersey Association for Jazz Education, Jeff frequently appears as a clinician and adjudicator, and directed the 2010 New Jersey All State Jazz Ensemble, along with numerous region jazz ensembles.
Jazz Improvisation and Jazz Pedagogy
Saxophonist/composer Kevin Bene grew up in Bridgewater, NJ where he began studying saxophone at the age of 10. He showed natural talent at a young age and received many awards for soloing with his high school’s jazz band, along with taking the lead chair in the NJ All State Wind Ensemble. While attending Michigan State University Kevin studied with world-renowned performers and educators, including Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra’s lead alto saxophonist Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson as well as renowned classical saxophonist Joe Lulloff. During the summers he recorded and toured with pop fusion band Keeping Riley. After graduating from Michigan State (2011) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in classical performance and jazz studies Kevin was accepted into Manhattan School of Music. While working towards his eventual Masters in jazz studies, Kevin performed with the Grammy nominated MSM Afro Cuban Jazz Band under the direction of percussionist and jazz historian Bobby Sanabria. Kevin has recorded for Quincy Jones signed artist Nikki Yanofsky and performed with artists such as Wycliffe Gordon, Jimmy Heath, Luis Perdomo, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Rodney Whitaker, Candido Camero, Roland Vazquez and Jeff Kunkel.
Guitarist Stephen Benson is a freelance performer who has remained active on the studio, jazz and Broadway scene for twenty years. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT, and a master’s from Manhattan School of Music. He has taught at Hartt School of Music and the Turtle Bay Music School in New York. Benson toured Europe as a member of the Giora Feidman Trio, performed at the Carnevale in Venice, Italy for two years and at the Grand Canyon Music Festival in Arizona. He has worked extensively on Broadway in such shows as The Lion King, 42nd Street, and Wicked. He performs many styles of jazz from bebop to fusion to blues and R & B and has worked with artists including Phoebe Snow, John Sebastian and Evelyn Blakey.
Mike Boschen began his trombone studies as a child, studying with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. After attending the Juilliard and Eastman schools of music, he spend quite a bit of time in New York freelancing, playing with ensembles such as the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Birdland Big Band, Orpheus, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra and many others. He also played in Broadway shows; did a great deal of studio work playing jingles, commercials and movie scores; and was even in the movie Mona Lisa Smile, where he pretended to play the trombone. After a musical hiatus, he returned to music in the Cape May/Philadelphia area, playing a great deal of jazz with George Mesterazy, as well as with the Baltimore Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony. In a return to the New York area, he has been performing with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, the New York Pops, David Yazbek, the Ed Palermo Big Band, the Little Orchestra Society, the Mostly Mozart Festival and many other ensembles.
Visiting percussion specialist Steve Johns studied with master drummers Alan Dawson and Bob Gullotti and attended the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied classical percussion with Fred Buda and Vic Firth. He moved to New York in 1982. He has worked, recorded and collaborated with Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Eddie Henderson, the Count Basie Orchestra under Frank Foster, the Vanguard Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Big Band, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, Illinois Jacquet, Michael Brecker, Stanley Turentine, Slide Hampton, Kenny Burrell and many others. Steve was the drummer for NPR’s Billy Taylor’s Jazz at The Kennedy Center in which he recorded 75 shows with guests including Wynton Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, Joe Lavano, Arturo Sandoval, Ray Barreto, Milt Jackson, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Gary Burton and Harry Sweet Edison. Mr. Johns’ recordings include Ceremony on Malaco with saxophonist Peter Brainin (Cats Paw Records) and No Saints/No Sinners (Playscape Records). As well as having a busy performance schedule, Mr. Johns has taught at the Vermont Jazz Center, the Jazz In July Program at the University of Massachusetts, the Thelonius Monk Institute in Aspen Colorado and Williams College in Massachusetts.
Jazz Voice / Vocamotion
Aubrey Johnson is a New York-based vocalist, composer, and educator who specializes in jazz, Brazilian and creative contemporary music with and without words. She has held faculty positions at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory, and currently teaches at Queens College, the New York Jazz Academy, and Peridance Capezio Center. In demand as both a side-person and a leader, Aubrey has performed and/or recorded with Bobby McFerrin, John Patitucci, Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby, Mark Walker, Paul McCandless, John Zorn’s Mycale Vocal Quartet, Jamey Haddad, Drew Gress, Bill Stewart, Linda Oh, Matt Brewer, Tim Hagans, Tyshawn Sorey, Jimmy Cobb and many others. She is currently composing music for a new album to be released in 2017 under Greg Osby’s independent record label, Inner Circle Music.
Throughout his career, Tony Kadleck has been praised as a highly effective sideman, who has lent his hand to numerous musical activities. He is currently one of the most sought-after trumpet players in the New York area. While attending the New England Conservatory in Boston, Kadleck studied both classical and jazz music, a task that would later benefit him, as he went on to perform and record with the Boston Pops Orchestra. In 1986, Tony was asked to join the trumpet section of the Buddy Rich Band, and later that year, decided to move to New York. Tony has recorded with several artists, including Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Celine Dion and Tony Bennett. Kadleck also spends time playing a wide variety of live concerts, having performed with Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, and most recently Steely Dan. Tony is currently a member of many organizations including John Pizzarelli’s “Swing Seven”, the Ron Carter Great Big Band, John Fedchock’s NY Big Band, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra and the New York Pops Orchestra. He can also be heard on Broadway in Disney’s Aladdin.
Saxophonist Mike Lee performs regularly in New York City as a member of a wide array jazz ensembles. His current associations include Jimmy Heath, the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, Wallace Roney, Oliver Lake, Loston Harris Trio, Josh Evans, Dave Stryker, Frank Lacy and Roy Hargrove. He performs regularly at venues such as the Bluenote, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Smalls, the Jazz Gallery, Fat Cat and Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. Mike Lee is Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. He is one of the lead faculty artists for Jazz House Kids.
Bassist Bill Moring is a versatile jazz artist whose scope includes the big bands of legends Count Basie and Woody Herman, jammin’ jazz/funk and beyond with the Dave Stryker/Steve Slagle quartet or stretching harmonic and rhythmic boundaries with John Hart and Chris Potter. He attended Indiana State University while also playing in cellist Hank Roberts group, gigging around Indianapolis and Cincinnati and studying with local pianists Claude Sifferlen and Steve Allee. In 1980 he began working with John Von Ohlen’s big band, playing at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis, and recording a live record that was Grammy nominated. he also played locally with Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton and Cal Collins. After moving to New York City in 1984 Bill worked with drummer Mel Lewis. He toured with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd and received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to study with Rufus Reid. He continued his studies with the legendary Homer Mensch. In 1987, Bill toured the world with the Count Basie Orchestra. Other big band experiences include the Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Jazz Orchestra. He has played with renowned singers such as Joe Williams, Mel Tormé and Susannah McCorkle, and with jazz legends Frank Foster, AI Cohn, Clark Terry, Mickey Roker, Tommy Flanagan, Junior Cook, Roland Hanna and Ray Barretto. He has also performed and/or recorded with many contemporary artists including John Abercrombie, Gary Bartz, Manolo Badrena, Larry Coryell, Vic Juris, Dave Kikoski, Billy Hart, John Hart, Eddie Henderson, Joe Locke, Mulgrew Miller, Chris Potter, Dom Salvador, Dave Stryker and James Williams.
Chris Opperman has worked in the major music industry for over a decade at companies including GSO Business Management, Universal Music Publishing Group and Universal Music Group, specializing in music publishing and record company operations and is a strong advocate for artist and songwriter rights. In addition, he also runs his independent record label Purple Cow Records through which he produces and releases his own compositions, including 2010’s The Lionheart, which is available on iTunes and other digital outlets. Opperman also played piano on Steve Vai’s Grammy-nominated compositions Lotus Feet and The Attitude Song and Opperman’s orchestration of Vai’s For the Love of God has over 8.25 million views on YouTube. Opperman received his BM from Berklee College of Music (Music Business) and his MA from Montclair State University (Music Composition). In 2009, the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra performed his orchestral tone poem Ariadne.
Pianist Oscar Perez, a New York City native, has shared the stage with jazz legends Bunky Green, George Russell and Curtis Fuller. Studying at the University of North Florida, New England Conservatory and Aaron Copland School of Music, he served under the guidance of Danilo Perez and Sir Roland Hanna, respectively. Since moving back to New York, he has played in the musical groups of Phoebe Snow, Wycliffe Gordon, Melissa Walker, Christian McBride, Charenee Wade, Dave Stryker, Steve Turre and Eddie Allen. Oscar is also faculty for Jazz House Kids based in Montclair and has been an educator through Carnegie Hall, the Kupferberg Center at Queens College and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He is the recipient of the 2006 ASCAP/IAJE Commission in honor of Billy Strayhorn. Oscar’s group, featuring Antonio Hart, premiered the work at the 2007 International Association of Jazz Education Convention. His critically acclaimed CD Afropean Affair is the result of a New Works Grant by Chamber Music America for his septet Oscar Perez Nuevo Comienzo. He recently placed second in the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. His latest endeavor, Prepare a Place for Me, features Bruce Williams and is available through all media outlets.
Hailed by The New York Times for his “killer scat singing,” Dylan has toured nationwide and across Europe as a co-leader, a principal arranger, and the baritone voice of The Royal Bopsters, the jazz vocal quartet with singers Amy London, Holli Ross and Pete McGuinness. Their debut album, The Royal Bopsters Project, was released in 2015 to international acclaim on Motéma Music, garnering 4 1/2 stars in DownBeat Magazine with tenor Darmon Meader and featuring jazz legends Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Bob Dorough, Sheila Jordan, and Mark Murphy. As of 2018, Dylan is the director of the NYU Jazz Choir. He has taught through The New School university and The City College of New York and has directed musical programs in New Jersey public schools. Since January 2014, he is a founding codirector,with Amy London, of the Vocal Academy at Jazz House Kids in Montclair, New Jersey, a jazz school founded by vocalist Melissa Walker, President, with acclaimed bassist Christian McBride as its Artistic Chair.
Born and raised in Conyers, Georgia, Marcus Printup’s first musical experiences came from hearing the fiery gospel music his parents sang in church. He would later discover jazz as a senior in high school. Marcus attended Georgia State University, then transferred to the University of North Florida on a music scholarship. It was during his studies at UNF that he competed and won the prestigious International Trumpet Guild Jazz Trumpet Competition. In 1991, Mr. Printup’s life would change when he met his mentor and friend-to-be, the incomparable pianist Marcus Roberts. Mr. Roberts introduced him to world renowned trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis which in time led to the invitation to join the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra in 1993. Marcus has been a member ever since. Among many others, Mr. Printup has performed/recorded with Betty Carter (an inductee into Ms. Carter’s first Jazz Ahead class in 1994), Dianne Reeves, Eric Reed, Cyrus Chestnut, Wycliffe Gordon, and Marcus Roberts. Mr. Printup has led multiple recordings on several major record jazz labels:Blue Note Records Song for the Beautiful Woman, Unveiled, Hub Songs, Nagel Heyer Records The New Boogaloo, Steeplechase Records Peace In The Abstract, Bird of Paradise, London Lullaby, Ballads All Night, A Time for Love, Homage, Desire, Lost, and his latest Young Bloods. Mr. Printup continues to be in demand nationally and abroad as a facilitator/educator for clinics and masterclasses. He is involved with educational programs such as JALC’s Essentially Ellington Competition, The New School (Manhattan), The International Trumpet Guild and Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead at the Kennedy Center. With his wife Riza Printup, the Printups created RiMarcable Publications LLC through which they have published their first children’s book and arrangements for big band and jazz combos. In 2005, a proclamation was granted to Mr. Printup declaring August 22nd Marcus Printup Day in his home town of Conyers, GA.
Headshot photo © Piper Ferguson
Holli Ross has performed in top clubs from New Orleans’ Snug Harbor to New York’s Blue Note. She has recorded extensively with various vocal ensembles that have led to appearances in Germany, France, and Japan as well as the Monterey Jazz Festival and the JVC Jazz Festival. Holli is a published lyricist with ASCAP and GEMA. Her songs have been recorded by jazz artists, Janice Seigel from Manhattan Transfer, Mark Murphy, Meredith D’Ambrosio and Carmen Bradford of the Count Basie Orchestra. Holli has recorded with Jon Faddis, Claudio Roditi, Romero Lumbambo, Eddie Monteiro, Randy Sandke, Bob Mintzer and Wolfgang Lackerschmid. Most notably, Holli has recorded several CDs with her female vocal trio String Of Pearls. Holli conducts clinics nationally and abroad and teaches extensively in the New York area, most notably at Hofstra University, Montclair State University, and Mannes College of Music. She is also a member and has performed for the International Association of Jazz Educators.
Whether you’ve heard guitarist Dave Stryker fronting his own group or as a featured sideman with Stanley Turrentine, Jack McDuff, and Kevin Mahogany, you know why Gary Giddins in the Village Voice calls him “one of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years.” He was voted one of the Top Ten Guitarists in the 2001 Critics and Readers Poll of Downbeat Magazine, and was elected as a Rising Star for the fifth time in the 2008 Downbeat Critics Poll. A native of Nebraska, Stryker moved to New York City in 1980, and toured with organist Jack McDuff’s group (1984-85). From 1986 to 1995 he performed with tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine at major venues throughout the world. He has also performed with Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Eliane Elias, Joe Lovano and many others. Dave currently performs with the Stryker/Slagle Band (with saxophonist Steve Slagle), Dave Stryker Organ Trio and his Blue to the Bone Band. He has recorded and published over 130 of his compositions, recorded 20 CDs under his own name and recorded as a sideman on over 50 others. He has performed all over the world at all the great jazz festivals and concert halls including Carnegie Hall, the Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and the JVC Jazz Festival. He has taught at the Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop, Litchfield Jazz Camp, Veneto/New School Jazz Workshop in Italy, and the Outreach Jazz Workshop in Austria. He is the author of Dave Stryker’s Jazz Guitar Improvisation Method.