Jazz Studies Coordinator
Professor of Jazz Studies
Oscar Perez – Website
Oscar Perez, a New York City native, has played in the musical groups of Phoebe Snow, Wycliffe Gordon, Christian McBride, Charenee Wade, Dave Stryker, Steve Turre, Eddie Allen, Ted Chubb, Abel Mireles LatiNext Project, Mingus Big Band, Charlie Porter, Roseanna Vitro, Bruce Williams and Don Braden. Oscar is Coordinator of Jazz Studies at the Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. He has been an educator through Carnegie Hall, the Kupferberg Center at Queens College, Jazz House Kids in Montclair, Jazz at Lincoln Center and has held faculty positions at Drew University and the Manhattan School of Music.
He is currently enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Arts Doctoral program under the tutelage of Jim McNeely and Stefon Harris. Previous studies at the New England Conservatory, University of North Florida and the Aaron Copland School of Music, gave him the opportunity to serve under the guidance of Danilo Perez, Michael Mossman, and Sir Roland Hanna, respectively. During his formative years he shared the stage with jazz legends Bunky Green, George Russell, Dianne Reeves and Curtis Fuller.
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. He has also been commissioned to arrange music for Chick Corea, Regina Carter and the MSM Jazz Orchestra featuring Sean Jones. 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 placed 2nd in the 2014 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. His latest endeavor, Prepare a Place for Me, is available through all media outlets.
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 playing trombone at age nine, and quickly realized how much fun it was. Mike noticed there was trombone in the pop, jazz, funk, soul, latin, and classical music he listened to, and decided to make it his career. After graduating from the Eastman and Juilliard Schools of Music, he began freelancing in New York City, and has been performing a wide variety of music with a myriad of ensembles ever since. Mike has played and/or recorded with groups as diverse as the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, New York City Ballet, Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Toshiko Akioshi Jazz Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Birdland Big Band, Ed Palermo Big Band, Orchestra of St. Lukes, Chase funk band, and many others. He has recorded music for television, movies, commercials, record albums, and Broadway cast albums, and has been a member of the orchestras for many shows including The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Frogs, Never Gonna Dance, South Pacific, Matilda, My Fair Lady, and Tootsie. Mike loves teaching, and for over 20 years he’s enjoyed helping his students find success in their lives in music.
Introduction to Jazz
Kate Cosco is an in-demand freelance pianist and teacher in the NYC metropolitan area. She received her undergraduate music degree at Indiana University and her master’s degree in jazz piano at the University of Memphis. She has performed often with well-known recording artists; retaining a notable job as traveling keyboardist with the world famous Four Tops. Other concert appearances include Smokey Robinson, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Coasters, The Duprees, Ben E. King, The Chiffons, Lesley Gore, Peggy March, Michele Lee, Jerry Van Dyke, Charo, Jack Sheldon, Billy Swan, Clint Holmes, Thelma Houston, Michael Crawford and Billy Eckstein. Under the direction of Alan Balter and Memphis Symphony Orchestra she performed with featured artists such as Mercedes Ellington and Bill Conti. Her credits include Tony and Tina’s Wedding and the Big Apple Circus. In addition to playing with her own groups in the NYC jazz scene, Kate currently retains residencies at the Hotel Giraffe and Robert at MAD Restaurant in Manhattan and plays locally at Unity Church.
David Cook – Website
Pianist, composer and Musical Director David Cook was born in San Diego to a musical family and raised in Columbus, Ohio. Now living in New York City, he has enjoyed a varied career of performing, recording and producing. A graduate of the University of Michigan school of music, David has Music Directed and/or played for many notable artists, including 10-time Grammy Award-winner Taylor Swift, Thomas Rhett, Emmy/Oscar/Tony winner Ben Platt, Maren Morris, Shoshana Bean, Lizz Wright, Academy Award winner Jennifer Husdon, Kesha, Utada Hikaru, Halsey, NSYNC, Billy Porter, Tei Shi and Shayna Steele. He has also played piano in jazz groups led by drummers Mark Guiliana and Red Baraat’s Sunny Jain, guitarist Greg Howe, saxophonists Adam Kolker and Bob Reynolds as well as 2-time Grammy-nominated trombonist Alan Ferber. David has released 2 critically acclaimed records as a leader on the Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records label, Pathway (2010) and Scenic Design (2015). Produced by Ben Wendel of Kneebody, Scenic Design features David Smith on trumpet, Wendel on saxophone, Matt Clohesy on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums. 2-time Grammy Award-winner composer and bandleader Maria Schneider says “Scenic Design is full of heart, intelligence, and simply fantastic playing…every piece thoughtfully carries the listener along with evolving nuance, expression and harmonic details.” David is a member of the faculty at Montclair State University as adjunct professor of jazz at the John J. Cali school of music. He also represented the United States in 2008 and 2017 with ensembles through Jazz at Lincoln Center and the U.S. State Department. Those travels included Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, giving performances and clinics to audiences across the regions. Other musicians that David has recorded or performed with include Dennis Chambers, Quincy Davis, John Ellis, Nir Felder, Tomas Fujiwara, Christian McBride, Donny McCaslin, Marcus Miller, Robert Randolph, Sachal Vasandani and Victor Wooten.
Graduate Jazz Arranging
Multiple GRAMMY-nominated/winning trombonist-composer-arranger Alan Ferber has been called “one of the jazz world’s premier composers and arrangers for larger groups” by All About Jazz NY. Jazz Times magazine describes Ferber’s compositions as “inspired and meticulous” and the L.A. Weekly deems him “one of the premier modern jazz arrangers of our time.” In 2022, he was deemed the top “Rising Star Trombonist” in Down Beat magazine’s International Critic’s Poll. Ferber was the recent recipient of a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America, funded by the Doris Duke Foundation.
Ferber’s aesthetic prescribes a deep knowledge of the jazz tradition as a means toward meaningful innovation. Appropriately, the Wall Street Journal describes his music as “somehow both old school and cutting edge.” He has released eight albums as a bandleader, most recently, Jigsaw, for 17-piece big band (Sunnyside Records 2017), nominated for a 2018 GRAMMY award for ‘Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.’ Down Beat magazine listed it as one of the best CDs of 2017 and stated, “Ferber…demonstrates full mastery. His big band belongs in the idiom’s current top tier.” Prior to Jigsaw, Ferber released “Roots & Transitions” in 2016, an eight-movement original piece for his working nonet, from which his composition Flow was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY award for ‘Best Instrumental Composition.’ Ferber’s 2013 release for his big band, was nominated for a 2014 GRAMMY award in the ‘Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album’ category. In 2010, Ferber released “Chamber Songs-Music For Nonet & Strings,” featuring an eight-piece string section. The album received a coveted 4 star review in Down Beat and was named one the magazine’s “Best CDs of the Year.”
Ferber’s music draws from a broad stylistic base informed by the array of artists with whom he has closely worked. In the jazz world, he has performed and/or recorded with Best New Artist GRAMMY-winner Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society, the Dr. Lonnie Smith Octet, the Ted Nash Big Band, Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors, MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenon’s Identities Big Band, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, the Charlie Hunter Quintet, Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus, the David Binney/Edward Simon Group, the Lee Konitz Nonet, John Ellis’s Double Wide, the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, and Don Byron’s Mickey Katz Project.
He has worked extensively in other genres as well with artists including Peter Gabriel (Live at the Ed Sullivan Theater), Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens (Age of Adz & All Delighted People), The National (on Grammy-nominated Trouble Will Find Me), Dr. Dre, Harry Connick Jr, Michael Buble, and Beirut. His discography lists over 150 CDs on which he has played trombone and/or composed and arranged music.
Ferber’s accomplishments as a writer are equally diverse. His recent work as a composer-arranger include ten 18-piece big band arrangements for Broadway star Shoshana Bean‘s album, Spectrum; Two big band arrangements of Joni Mitchell compositions featuring vocalist Tutu Puoane with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra on their album, We Have A Dream. Two commissions ~ Kopi Luwak and Luteous Pangolin (Ben Monder) ~ written for the Atlantic Brass Quintet (and released on their album Crossover on Summit Records); Big band arrangements of I Sing For You (Nancy King) and I Get Along Without You Very Well (Hoagy Carmichael), featuring GRAMMY-nominated violinist Sara Caswell and her sister, vocalist Rachel Caswell with the JazzMn Orchestra; Hyperballad (Bjork), arranged for the avant-classical music outfit Bang On A Can’s Asphalt Orchestra; Farewell (Nelson Foltz) arranged for a recording with 8 trombones joined by acclaimed vocalist Rebecca Martin; nine arrangements for Korean Sony recording artist Youngjoo Song’s 2015 release, Reflection, nominated for Jazz Album of the Year at the 2015 Korean Music Awards; .
Since 2011, he has been an Adjunct Professor of jazz studies at New York University’s Steinhardt School. In addition to New York University, Ferber is on the faculty at the John J Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, and has been a faculty member of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the Eastman School of Music, and the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music. He has worked regularly on the faculties of several summer jazz programs including the Taipei International Summer Jazz Academy, the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the Lafayette Summer Music Jazz Workshop, Cal State University’s Summer Arts Perspectives In Jazz program, and the Maine Jazz Camp. He is currently the coordinator of New England Music Camp’s Jazz Intensive, held every summer in Maine. He has appeared as a clinician and soloist with numerous universities including Stanford University, the University of Oregon, Cal State Northridge, Kansas University, the University of Miami, the Lawrence Conservatory, Middle Tennessee State University, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Jazz Drum Set
Three months after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Instrumental Performance/Jazz Studies, Alvester Garnett received a call coincidentally on the same day from both Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln to come to New York for auditions. After moving to New York, he worked with Betty Carter’s trio briefly while simultaneously becoming a member of Abbey Lincoln’s quartet for over 2 years. He was also a member of Cyrus Chestnut’s trio for over two years before returning to working with Abbey Lincoln’s Quartet in 1998 for a brief while. The latter half of 1998 saw Mr. Garnett touring extensively with both Regina Carter and James Carter. He has been a member of Regina Carter’s stylistically varied bands from 1998 until the present.
Mr. Garnett was the principal percussionist with The Jazz @ Lincoln Center All Stars on the Tony nominated Broadway production of the reimagining of Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade entitled After Midnight. In this production he provided the heartbeat of the show for a 17-piece big band, over 20 dancers, singers and actors as well as guest stars including, Fantasia Barrino, K.D. Lang, Toni Braxton, Vanessa Williams and Patti LaBelle.
In 2016 Mr. Garnett was the principle drum set percussionist on the Tony Winning ‘Shuffle Along on Broadway’ detailing the story behind the groundbreaking 1921 musical originally created by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle.
Mr. Garnett can also be heard regularly performing and recording for more than 17 years in McArthur Genius & Doris Duke Award winner Regina Carter’s various ensembles and recording projects. Mr. Garnett’s musical versatility can be heard as of late stoking the fire in NEA Latino Jazz Master Papo Vasquez’s Big Band and Pirates Troubadours ensembles performing Afro Puerto Rican Bomba & Plena Jazz on various albums and live concert performances.
Mr. Garnett served as an appointee to the Executive Board of Local 802 NYC from Fall of 2017 to 2019. In 2018 he was also appointed by the NY City Council to the NYC Nightlife Advisory Board as compliment to The Mayor’s Office of Nightlife.
Mr. Garnett has also taught extensively for nearly 10 years as part of the Teaching Artist faculty of The New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Arts Education program as well as The Jazz House Kids program of Montclair, NJ.
Since 1993 Mr. Garnett has toured professionally and extensively on every continent of the planet except Australia. He has also worked and/or recorded in the bands of many other great artists. The list has included includes, Roy Hargrove, Ellis Marsalis, Regina Carter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stefon Harris, Houston Pearson, Dianne Reeves, James Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Gary Thomas, Cyrus Chestnut, Steve Turre, Kevin Mahogany, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Pharaoh Sanders, Teddy Edwards, Jimmy Witherspoon, John Hicks, Milt Hinton, John and Jeff Clayton, Camille Thurman, Benny Green, Brad Leali, Sherman Irby, Bruce Barth, Eric Reed, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, Greg Osby, Wes Anderson, Jackie Terrason, Charenee Wade, Ronald Westray, and the Richmond Symphony.
Billy Hart is one of the most sought-after jazz drummers of his generation, able to perform in diverse contexts ranging from straight-ahead to avant-garde to pop. Throughout his career, he has recorded 12 albums in his own name and performed as a sideman on more than 600 recordings. Hart also teaches widely—nationally and internationally—and has authored the book Jazz Drumming. Hart grew up in in the nation’s capital in a music-loving family who introduced him to jazz early on. His maternal grandmother bought him his first drum set. At age 17, he was hired by the great local saxophonist Buck Hill for an extended gig with his band, which also featured two of Hart’s high school classmates, pianist Reuben Brown and bassist Butch Warren. His next important mentor was singer and pianist Shirley Horn. After being established locally, Hart spent most of the ‘60s touring with three of the preeminent working groups of the era, Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, and Eddie Harris. Upon moving to New York, Hart became associated with a group of like-minded and forward-thinking musicians, recording with Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Joe Zawinul, and, especially, Herbie Hancock, with whom Hart spent three productive years in the band now known as Mwandishi. He also appeared on the seminal https://www.arts.gov/honors/jazz/miles-davis1972 album On the Corner. Other notable associations include four years with Stan Getz, almost ten years with Charles Lloyd, and record dates ranging from standard bearers like Frank Foster, Clark Terry, Horace Silver to experimentalists like Joanne Brackeen, Geri Allen, and James Newton. A working cooperative with Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach, and Ron McClure—Quest—has existed for more than 30 years. Hart is also a member of the current jazz “supergroup” the Cookers, which includes George Cables, Billy Harper, Donald Harrison, Jr., Eddie Henderson, Cecil McBee, and David Weiss. His current quartet includes Ethan Iverson, Ben Street, and Mark Turner. In 2016, Hart was featured with the German WDR Big Band on the release The Broader Picture and was honored at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival in California with a 40-year retrospective programming in his honor. Since the early 1990s, Hart has taught at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, and at Western Michigan University.
Herbie Hancock, Crossings, Warner Brothers, 1971
Enchance, Horizon, 1977
Oceans of Time, Arabesque, 1996
All Our Reasons, ECM, 2011
The Cookers, Warriors, Jazz Legacy Productions, 2011
Graduate Jazz History
Jerome Jennings is a drummer, activist, bandleader, sideman, and Emmy Award winning composer. His debut recording ‘The Beast’ is a reflection of the every day joys and traumas of black life in the U.S. It was named one of the top three Jazz releases by NPR, received a four star rating in Downbeat Magazine, and was nominated for the prestigious French ‘Grand Prix du Disque’ award for Album of the Year in 2016. Jerome’s sophomore recording, ‘Solidarity’, released November 2019 was recognized by NPR as best music that spoke truth to power of 2019. Jerome is a pertinent performer. To date Jerome has performed, toured and recorded with legendary musicians like Sonny Rollins, Hank Jones, Gerald Wilson, Christian McBride, Ron Carter, George Cables, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis (J@LC), The Count Basie Orchestra, Philip Bailey, Henry Butler, and countless others. He has also made recordings and shared the stage with contemporary musicians Sean Jones, Camille Thurman, Jazzmeia Horn, Tadataka Unno, Christian Sands, Charenee Wade, and Bokani Dyer to name a few. The summer of 2007 Jerome earned a MM from the prestigious Juilliard School in Manhattan NY. In 2014, he passed Jazz At Lincoln Centers Swing University 301 history course: The most comprehensive study of jazz from a non-performance perspective, available. Jazz At Lincoln Center has Jerome Jennings on file as an accredited jazz scholar. Jerome was the Resident Director of The Juilliard Jazz Orchestra from fall 2017 to 2021. While on faculty at Juilliard, he designed a class entitled The Juilliard Jazz Community Project.
Jerome has participated on several panels including Chamber Music America: Music, Language, and Revolution; Lincoln Center: Freedom’s State of Mind; Winter Jazz Festival: Jazz & Gender: A Discussion Of Community, Culture & Participatory Allies. Fall 2020, Jerome co-curated with Naomi Extra, a series of panels, performances and discussions at The National Jazz Museum in Harlem entitled ‘Jazz in The Era of Black Lives Matter.’ He has also designed and taught several courses for Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Swing University.
Currently, Jerome is keeping busy teaching, conducting clinics and educational youth out reach nationally and internationally. He is one of the most successful in the field of Black American music education. Jerome has been artist in residence, and have lectured at dozens of Universities and Academy’s, nationally and internationally including UNC Greensboro, John Hopkins Peabody Institute, Rutgers University, The Juilliard School, Jazz Music Institute JMI (Brisbane, AU), Sydney Conservatory of Music, Xavier College (Melbourne, AU), The Ohio State University, Aspen Colorado, Brigham Young University, University Of Ghana – Legon School Of Performing Arts, Rockport Jazz Workshop, and the Universidad Sergio Arboleda (Bogota Colombia) and The National Taiwan University of The Arts.
Jazz Drum Set / Small Ensembles
Steve Johns – Website
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. Aubrey teaches in the jazz programs at Montclair State University, Queens College, and in the voice department at Berklee College of Music. She has performed and/or recorded with Billy Childs, Jimmy Cobb, John Patitucci, Janis Siegel (ManhattanTransfer), John Zorn’s Mycale Vocal Quartet, Fred Hersch, among many others. Aubrey recorded on Bobby McFerrin’s 2010 Grammy-nominated release,VOCAbuLaries, Arturo O’Farrill’s 2020 Grammy Award-winning album Four Questions, and on Lyle Mays’ 2021Grammy-nominated recording Eberhard. Her performing and teaching has taken her throughout the US and Canada and to Central and South America, Europe, and Asia. Aubrey’s debut record, Unraveled, featuring her original music and arrangements and produced by Steve Rodby of the Pat Metheny Group, was released on Outside In Music in March of 2020.
Jazz Saxophone / Small Ensemble
Mike Lee – Website
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.
Trombonist Nate Mayland is fortunate to play in the classical, commercial and jazz scenes in New York City. He has performed and recorded with The Knights Orchestra, The American Ballet Theater, The Orchestra of St. Lukes, The Mark Morris Dance Company, jazz pianist Aaron Diehl, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, dozens of jingles, and performed in the pits of over forty Broadway shows on trombone, bass trombone and tuba. He was a founding member of The Birdland Big Band, The Pedro Guiraudo Expansions Ensemble, BONEGASM, The Filmharmonic Brass, and has performed with Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Billy Idol, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, The Chico O’Farrill Jazz Orchestra and countless others. Mr. Mayland’s playing and composing can be heard on his own records with his jazz quintet The Wishbone Project, which features a front line of voice and trombone. He studied with the legendary Edward Kleinhammer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and completed an undergraduate degree in Orchestral Performance at Indiana University, where he studied under David Baker, M. Dee Stewart and Scott Hartmann.
Jazz Bass / Redhawk Jazz Band / Small Ensemble
Bill Moring – Website
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.
Vibraphonist Steve Nelson began his career during the seventies, in his hometown of Pittsburgh, following the straight ahead path blazed by his first major influence, Milt Jackson. After a year with guitarist Grant Green he was playing and recording with his Rutgers professors James Spaulding and Kenny Barron, before landing a spot in David “Fathead” Newman’s quintet. Throughout the eighties Nelson was the vibists of choice among some of his generation’s most talented up-and-comers, including Bobby Watson, Curtis Lundy, James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Donald Brown, Geoffrey Keezer and Lewis Nash, developing a harmonically open sound, influenced by the innovations of Bobby Hutcherson, that led him to a spot in Dave Holland‘s award winning band. In between he’s recorded a half dozen dates as a leader that showcase his own personal voice on the vibes.
Hailed by The New York Times for his “killer scat singing,” Dylan Pramuk 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
Grammy Award winning Trumpeter/Composer, Michael Rodriguez, was born in Queens, New York. Inspired to pursue music as a career by his father, drummer Roberto Rodriguez, he initially studied at The New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida and continued his studies at The University of Miami. After completing two years there, he transferred to The New School University in New York City, where he received his B.A. Michael has toured and performed with such jazz icons as Clark Terry, Bobby Watson, Quincy Jones, Joe Lovano, Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra, Jessica Simpson, Chico O’Farrill Orchestra, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Jon Faddis and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, The Carla Bley Band and Quintet, The Clayton Brothers, Kenny Barron Quintet, Conrad Herwig’s “Latin Side” Projects, Clayton Brothers Quintet, Harry Connick, Jr., Bob Mintzer, Yosvany Terry Quintet, Eddie Palmieri Septet, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and the Smithsonian Jazz Orchestra, among others.
In December 2003, Michael Rodriguez recorded on Charlie Haden’s Grammy Award winning album, Land of the Sun, featuring Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Joe Lovano, and also recorded on two Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra albums, Not in Our Name (2005) and Time/Life (2016). In 2008, Michael became a member of the Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet, with whom he recorded Avatar under the Blue Note label. In 2019, he joined Chick Corea’s Spanish Heart Band, which won a Best Latin Jazz Album Grammy for Antidote in 2020.
The trumpeter and his brother, pianist Robert Rodriguez, have recorded four albums together on their own label, RodBrosMusic: Introducing the Rodriguez Brothers (2002), Conversations (2007), Mood Swing (2010) and Impromptu (2015), nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2015. Also within that time frame, Michael released 2 albums as a leader, Reverence (Criss Cross – 2013), and Pathways (RodBrosMusic – 2021).
Jazz Guitar / Jazz Combo
Dave Stryker – Website
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.
Saxophonist and educator Julius Tolentino has been on the New York jazz scene for over 20 years. He has played with Louis Haye’s Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band, Eric Reed’s Sextet, the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, Christian McBride’s Big Band, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. A graduate of the Hartt School of Music, he was able to study with NEA Jazz Master and alto saxophone legend Jackie McLean. His recording “Just the Beginning” peaked at #8 on the jazz charts.
Julius has been the jazz director at Newark Academy since 2007. He has led programs at Jazz House Kids, NJ Youth Symphony and Jazz at Lincoln Center. His groups have been finalists in the Essentially Ellington Festival nine years, and at the state level Newark Academy has received First Place at the NJAJE State Finals eleven years in a row.
Julius Tolentino has been awarded the Illinois Jacquet Jazz Educator of the Year award in 2013, and the NJ Jazz Education Achievement Award by NJAJE in 2018.
Bruce Williams is a powerful young jazz saxophonist who hails from Washington, D.C. He has made his presence known on the jazz scene by garnering critical attention with his own enthusiastically received CD releases — “Brotherhood” and “Altoicity” — and has made an indelible impression as a sideman on over 20 other CD and video recordings. Bruce has performed, toured, and recorded with a long roster of jazz legends including Little Jimmy Scott, Frank Foster, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Stanley Cowell, Louis Smith, Cecil Brooks III, The Count Basie Orchestra, The World Saxophone Quartet, Russell Gunn, Curtis Fuller, and Roy Hargrove. A versatile stylist in a variety of settings, from traditional to hip-hop to the avant-garde, Williams has been an honored recipient of awards from DownBeat magazine and The Charlie Parker Music and More Foundation. His ability to perform masterfully in a range of jazz styles has placed him on two Grammy-nominated recordings and sent him to numerous cities throughout the US and abroad. He is currently the newest and youngest member of the internationally recognized World Saxophone Quartet and a member of a newly founded group by legendary drummer Ben Riley, the Thelonious Monk Legacy Septet. Bruce also leads four bands of his own.
Manhattan-born and raised Rachel Nicolazzo (aka Rachel Z) had music practically ingrained in her genetic code. Groomed to follow in her mother’s operatic footsteps, she began voice lessons at two, started classical piano lessons at seven and attended the opera by age nine. “My first dollhouse was a Metropolitan Opera House complete with the stage and dolls which were the performers,” she recalls. “Then I heard Miles Smiles when I was 15, started rebelling against the classical by improvising, and played with a band that covered Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan songs.”
Listening to Herbie Hancock’s harmonies over Wayne Shorter’s compositions helped her bridge the gap from her classical training to jazz.”The way my jazz chops developed was twofold. I developed acoustic straight ahead and electronic fusion playing equally over time,” she says. After launching a quintet called Nardis, she studied with Joanne Brackeen and Richie Beirach.
Rachel Z graduated from the New England Conservatory with a ‘Distinction in Performance’ award while working professionally in the Boston area with performers like Bob Moses, Miroslav Vitous and George Garzone. Returning to New York in 1988, she toured with New England Conservatory schoolmate turned rhythm & jazz superstar saxman Najee and later co-wrote album Tokyo Blue. While performing and recording steadily with the classic fusion band Steps Ahead from 1988 through 1996, she also worked with Al Di Meola, Larry Coryell, Special EFX, and Angela Bofill, and began a fruitful association with producer/vibraphonist Mike Mainieri. Mainieri produced her Columbia Records debut Trust the Universe in 1993. Reflecting the influence of Corea, Hancock, and even Pat Metheny, the CD featured the jazz radio hit ‘Nardis.’
Her connection to saxophone great Wayne Shorter grew from major influence to full-blown collaborator over the two years she worked on his hit comeback album High Life, for which she built a synthesized orchestral framework to crystallize his musical vision. Rachel Z also played acoustic piano on the album and was musical director for the tour that followed. The CD won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. 1996 also saw the release of her NYC Records debut A Room of One’s Own, which she dedicated to the many women artists who have played an influential role in her life. Two years later Rachel released an album on GRP, Love is the Power, an album that featured hip-hop grooves with melodic piano flourishes and poems about the search for eternal love and wisdom through music.
Rachel returned to acoustic music, in an all-female trio setting, with On the Milky Way Express, her well-received tribute to Wayne Shorter, in 2000.