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Artist Faculty Biographies

(In Alphabetical Order)

Gregory Caputo
Marion Cowings
Bruce Diehl
Jacob Epstein
Bob Ferrier
Derrick Gardner
Tom Giampietro
Winard Harper
Jeffrey W. Holmes
Dr. Catherine Jensen-Hole
Steve Johns
Sheila Jordan
Steve Kuhn
Arturo O’Farrill
Stephen Page
Genevieve Rose
Felipe Salles
Saunders Sermons
Avery Sharpe
Dr. Frederick Tillis
Rodney Whitaker

 



Gregory Caputo
Gregory Caputo

Website

"I introduce techniques that build a musical vocabulary of essential rhythmic patterns and melodic motives, thus stimulating one's improvisational abilities."

Modern Drummer describes Greg Caputo as "specializing in versatility within traditional drumming styles."  Dr. Bruce Klauber, noted jazz historian, writes, "He is the epitome of dedication and, in my opinion, the keeper of the big band drummer's tradition." JazzTimes reviews him as "a drummer with electricity who is never confronted with a gap he can't fill, not with just bravura, but with taste, class and envied solo technique."

A graduate of the Hartford Conservatory of Music Jazz and Pop program, Greg Studied with Jim Chapin, Alan Dawson and Joe Morello. His professional performance credits include Sammy Davis Jr., Clint Holmes, Nnenna Freelon, Barry Harris, Eddie Fisher, Don Cornell, Charlie Ventura, Jerry Vale, Buddy Grecco, Bobby Vinton, Pattie Page, Connie Stevens, Betty Carter, Vikki Carr, Mills Brothers, Melba Joyce, Grover Mitchell, Benny Waters, Lenny Welch, and has recorded with Phil Woods. 

He has toured with the big bands of Count Basie, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Nelson Riddle,Sammy Kay, Cab Calloway, Gene Krupa, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, and Lionel Hampton.

Greg has been the house drummer at the famous El Morocco & Copa Cabana Clubs in New York City. He is the recipient of the Hoop City Jazz Ambassador Award.

 



Marion Cowings
Marion Cowings

Website

Mr. Cowings is a native New Yorker whose smooth baritone voice and considerable range has been delighting audiences around the world for decades. Mentored by the legendary Jon Hendricks, Cowings is a master of scat and vocal technique. He has appeared at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Blue Note, Village Vanguard, and as well as many prestigious venues abroad. Currently Cowings performs regularly at Smalls Jazz Club in the West Village.

Cowings grew up in the South Bronx where his father was a merchant and his mother taught public school. He attended Music and Art (now LaGuardia High School), where he was chosen to perform as a solo vocalist with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. In the same year, at the age of fifteen, Cowings discovered the bebop group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. While still in high school, his classmate Eddie Gomez (now a formidable bassist and Bill Evans collaborator) played with Jon Hendricks and spoke highly of Cowings. Hendricks called Cowings and said “I hear you’re doing my stuff…. meet me outside Birdland and we’ll talk.” Soon afterward Hendricks set up Cowings’ first professional engagement at the Randall’s Island Jazz Festival with “Little Pony” Poindextor and the Ike Isaac’s Trio. He also began to understudy Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and eventually became Dave Lambert’s original replacement.

In 1984 after leading rhythm & blues and rock bands, Cowings teamed up with jazz vocalist Kim Kalesti. Kalesti and Cowings headlined the Berlin Jazz Festival and the Blue Notes in New York and Japan. They starred in Lincoln Center’s Meet the Artist and performed hundreds of concerts through the auspices of the Young Audiences in New York City public schools. In addition to recording two albums on the Emarcy Label, they have played with many musicians including Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Gary Bartz, Bobby Watson, Ron Carter, Howard Johnson, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra (now known as Village Vanguard Orchestra). Together they founded the Vocal Jazz Department at New York University and were adjunct professors for eleven years. Cowings’ Off-Broadway credits include Forever Swing and Bebop. He was a lead in “Queenie Pie,” a Duke Ellington Opera directed by Mercer Ellington at Lincoln Center. Recently, Marion headlined the Harry Warren Lyrics and Lyricists Program at the 92nd Street Y alongside Margaret Whiting and Mary Cleere Haran. He was also a lead in the hundredth anniversary tribute to Count Basie and Glenn Miller at the Lucille Lortel Theater, both directed by Mercedes Ellington.

Involved in commercials, voiceovers and jingles, Cowings received the advertising industry’s Clio Award with one of his mentors, Hal Schaeffer. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a published lyricist with Quincy Jones, Wayne Shorter, Frank Foster, and Sonny Rollins.

 



Bruce Diehl
Bruce Diehl 

Website

"Helping students unlock their creative potential through various practice techniques, listening to all kinds of music, and playing everything in all keys are the ways I use to empower each musician as they become more independent in their own approach."

Bruce Diehl is currently the Director of Jazz Performance at Amherst College. In this capacity, Bruce directs the Amherst College Jazz Ensemble, the jazz combos, and teaches jazz improvisation, jazz theory, and  taught two history-based courses: the History of Jazz and the Birth of Bebop. Bruce also organizes the Jazz@Schwemm's coffeehouse performance series hosted in the campus center.

In 1995, Bruce completed his Master's Degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from UMASS Amherst. While there he studied composition/arranging with Jeff Holmes, Yusef Lateef and Frederick Tillis and saxophone with Lynn Klock and Wayne Tyce. Bruce completed his undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music, earning degrees in Saxophone Performance and Instrumental Music Education while studying with Ramon Ricker and Albert Regni. A lifelong student of the saxophone, Bruce enjoys yearly studies with Bill Street at the University of Southern Maine. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by various groups across the country, and he enjoys composing and/or arranging new pieces and transcribing recorded pieces for his student groups at Amherst College to perform.

Prior to his work at Amherst College, Bruce was Director of Instrumental Music and Jazz Studies at Northfield Mount Hermon School, a private boarding school serving grades 9-12. He taught there from 1996-2000. From 1991-1993, Bruce taught instrumental music in the Castleton (VT) Schools, and directed the Castleton State College Jazz Ensemble.
Recent performances have taken Bruce to Sutton NH, Fryeburg Maine, Atlanta Georgia, Spokane and Ellensburg Washington, Southern Vermont, and throughout Western Massachusetts. He has directed District Junior and Senior High Festivals in Vermont and Massachusetts.

 



Jacob Epstein
Jacob Epstein

Jake currently is a principle (partner) in RECOL, LLC an Internet Services company but also composes and performs music. He severed as the first UMass Music Department Graduate Teaching Assistant in African Music and Jazz working with Professors Frederick Tillis, Horace Boyer and Max Roach in the early 1970's. From 1976 to 1980, Jake served as an assistant Professor of Music at UMass.

Jake serves as an adviser as well as instructor with "Jazz in July". He also helped found the Jazz in July Endowment Fund. Jake has performed and composed/arranged music for many individuals and instructors including 113th Army Band, Sonny Costanzo Orchestra, Berkshire Big Band, Chic Chichetti Band, Valley Big Band, Amherst Jazz Orchestra, Bill Lowe and Andy Jaffe Band, Springfield Orchestra, Orchestra New England, Oakdale Orchestra, Cliff Jarvis Quartet, Widespread Depression Orchestra, and PVR Quartet.   Jake is a member of PVR-Jazz. Their work can be heard at http://www.pvr-jazz.com.

 

 


Bob Ferrier

Bob Ferrier

Website

"My approach to teaching jazz improvisation always leaves room to experience what each individual really sounds like."

Freelance guitarist and teacher, Ferrier has performed with Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Eddie Bert, John Fedchock, Claudio Roditi, Yusef Lateef, Peter Erskine and others. He holds a B.M. degree in Performance from Berklee College of Music, M.M. degree in Jazz Composition/Arranging from UMass Amherst, and has studied with John Laporta, William Leavitt, Herb Pomeroy, Bill Pierce, George Garzone, and others. He is an assistant professor and coordinator of jazz studies at Holyoke Community College, and is the applied jazz guitar instructor at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

 



Derrick Gardner
Derrick Gardner

Website

Derrick Gardner (Trumpet) Instrumental Ensembles Program Week 2 Website Winner of the 9th Annual Independent Music Awards: Best Jazz Album "Echoes of Ethnicity," Derrick Gardner is an American jazz trumpeter from Chicago, Illinois, performing as a freelance trumpet player and composer/arranger in New York City with some of the biggest names in jazz today. Critics describe him as "having a way of moving past the notes in a solo and getting into formal realms that make sense and heighten interest," "Soulful and Intelligent, a tremendous talent with a vivid and unusual imagination."

Derrick's distinctive style has awarded him worldwide travels while working with such jazz notables as the late Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Frank Foster, Jon Faddis, Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett, Harry Connick, Jr., Joe Williams, Rufus Reid, Clark Terry, Kenny Barron, Stefon Harris and James Moody just to name a few. As composer/arranger, Gardner's music has also been featured with The Count Basie Orchestra. Since 1989, Derrick has written for and leads his own sextet, The Jazz Prophets.



Tom Giampietro
Tom Giampietro

Website


Tom Giampietro holds a Bachelor of Music in Studio Music in Jazz from the University of Miami (FL), and a Masters in Music in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Northern Iowa. He has studied with such well-known educators as Dr. Bob Washut, Steve Rucker, Chris Merz, Jim Chapin, Vince Maggio, and Ron Miller.

As a drummer, Giampietro was an original member of Grammy-winning saxophonist Jeff Coffin's eclectic jazz group the Mu-tet. While with the Mu-tet, Giampietro performed on Coffin's award-winning and critically acclaimed CDs, Go Round, and Commonality. During Giampietro's tenure with Coffin, the Mu-tet also completed national tours of the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest, including an appearance at the 2001 IAJE conference in New York City. Giampietro has also recorded or performed with such artists as Tim O'Brien, Casey Driessen, Rod McGaha, Scott Robinson, Lee Konitz, Tom Harrell, The Middle Tennessee Jazz Orchestra, Victor Wooten, Beegie Adair, Ben Monder, Chris Walters, Liz Johnson, Pat Bergeson, The Chris Merz X-tet, Ricky Woodard and Peter Erskine. He has also been active in leading his own group in and around the Nashville area.

Giampietro has appeared as a clinician or adjudicator at The University of Iowa, The University of Georgia, Belmont College, Austin Peay University, Brevard College, The SEIBA Jazz Competition, Coe College, The University of Northern Iowa Tallcorn Jazz Festival as well as various high schools in Tennessee and Iowa. He also served as a member of the all-volunteer faculty at the non-profit W.O.Smith Community Music School. Giampietro previously served on faculty at both Middle Tennessee State University, and Vanderbilt University. He also teaches private drum set students at The University of Northern Iowa via the internet.

An active composer, Giampietro’s compositions have been performed by faculty and student ensembles at University of Northern Iowa, Eastern Illinois University Middle Tennessee State University and Eastern Kentucky University. Giampietro has also recently released a new collaborative jazz trio recording with Don Aliquo and Jonathan Wires. The CD, "The Affinity Trio," features original modern jazz compositions by Mr. Aliquo, Mr. Wires and Mr. Giampietro.

 



Winard Harper
Winard Harper

Website


Drummer Winard Harper is passionate about jazz. "This music is powerful," he says. "It can do a lot of good for people. If they'd spend some time each day listening to it, we would see many changes in the world."

Inspired by the musicianship of greats such as Clifford Brown, Max Roach, Jackie McLean, Cannonball Adderley, Dr. Billy Taylor, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins, Harper has been the leader and musical inspiration for a vibrant sextet for almost a decade. The group appears regularly all over the United States from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to Yoshi's, the legendary West Coast jazz club.

Constantly in reverence of his predecessors while remaining innovative in his own right, Harper has become one of the most celebrated drummers in jazz. He is a virtuoso on the drum set as well as the balafon, the West African equivalent of the marimba. Critics have written that Winard is as pleasing and entertaining to watch as he is to hear. "As tasteful a drummer as one could ask for," according to Jeff Kaliss of JazzTimes. Franz Matzner recently wrote in All About Jazz that the sextet's performance "culminated in an evening of fireworks with a sustained display of percussive pyrotechnics by Harper so rapid fire, so mind bogglingly dexterous, and so expressively diverse, as to be truly awe-inspiring." And in a Washington Post review, Mike Joyce said, "Winard Harper's wonderfully orchestrated solos alone might have forced a corpse to grin!"

Harper's first major gig was with Dexter Gordon in 1982, and shortly thereafter with Johnny Griffin. It wasn't long before his drumming skills captured the attention of Betty Carter. He spent four years working with Ms. Carter's band, inevitably honing his jazz-as-entertainment sense of showmanship.

 



Jeffrey W. Holmes
Jeffrey W. Holmes

Website

"What I strive to do is to listen, assess and suggest new direction in a student's improvisational vocabulary."

Composer, arranger, performer and educator Jeffrey W. Holmes is Professor of Music and Director of Jazz & African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Holmes received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the Eastman School of Music. He is a nationally published and commissioned composer/arranger and multiple recipient of National Endowment For The Arts Jazz Composition Grants. Holmes has written music for Ernie Watts, Max Roach, Yusef Lateef, Doc Severinsen, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, as well as numerous works for military, college, high school/junior high school jazz, concert and marching ensembles.

Featured on the Jazz at Kennedy Center Series with the Billy Taylor Trio, Holmes subs regularly with the Paul Winter Consort, is a member of the 11 piece classical ensemble Solid Brass, is lead trumpeter for the New England Jazz Ensemble, leader of the Jeff Holmes Big Band; and drummer with Amherst Jazz Orchestra. He is a former panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and columnist for JAZZPLAYER Magazine. Holmes has undertaken world tours, made several recordings, and appeared as a guest conductor/clinician/adjudicator.

Jeffrey Holmes has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Sammy Davis Jr., Louis Bellson, Vanguard Orchestra (Thad Jones/Mel Lewis), Sheila Jordan, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Mel Torme, David Goloschokin, Bob Mintzer, Slide Hampton and numerous NYC Broadway shows. In 2006, Holmes won a Grammy for his role on keyboard on the Paul Winter Consort album “Silver Solstice” in the Best New Age Album category. At UMass Amherst, he currently directs the award-winning Jazz Ensemble I and Studio Orchestra and is Associate Director of the Jazz In July Improvisation Workshops.

 



Dr. Catherine Jensen-Hole
Dr. Catherine Jensen-Hole

"Jazz improvisation is like any language; you study the vocabulary and grammar and you learn to construct sentences. The leap of faith begins when you start to musically converse with other musicians and hope that all your study allows you to hold appealing, affecting and eloquent dialogues."

Catherine Jensen-Hole is Visiting Assistant Professor in the African-American Music and Jazz Studies Program at UMass Amherst. Catherine directs the DOWNBEAT award-winning Vocal Jazz Ensemble and teaches undergraduate instrumental arranging and composition, vocal jazz techniques, and the vocal jazz studio.

Jensen-Hole has performed as vocal jazz artist in Australia, Great Britain, Indonesia and the U.S. including performances at the Perth Concert Hall, the International Festival of Perth, Australia, and the National Theatre, London, England. She has received two awards for her performance from DOWNBEAT magazine and was a member of the award winning UNT Jazz Singers for 8 years.

A nationally published composer and arranger, her compositions and arrangements have been performed and recorded by university and college ensembles across America. A sought-after clinician and adjudicator in vocal jazz, she has conducted All-State Choirs including the 2001 MENC All Northwest Jazz Choir and has been a faculty member at the North Texas Summer Vocal Jazz Workshop. Presently she co-teaches at the Jazz in July Summer Workshop (UMass Amherst) with Sheila Jordan, working with singers from the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. Jensen-Hole has been a regular performer in the IAJE Music Educator Vocal Jazz Group, performing new vocal jazz music at the yearly conference. Her own UNC Jazz Press arrangements and compositions were regularly featured at these sessions.

In earlier years, Jensen-Hole worked as a freelance studio singer for Western Australian based advertising companies and received awards at the West Coast Rock Awards for most outstanding W.A. recording by a Western Australian artist.
A resident of the USA, and citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom, Jensen-Hole received her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music (WAPPA), and both her Master of Music in Jazz Composition and Arranging, and Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education specializing in Jazz Studies, from the University of North Texas.

Jensen-Hole was previously Interim Director of Vocal Jazz at Central Washington University.

 



Steve Johns
Steve Johns

Website

Steve Johns is one of the most dynamic and versatile drummers on the New York City jazz scene today. Over the past twenty years Steve Johns has worked, recorded and collaborated with: Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Larry Willis, Walter Booker, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson The Count Basie Orchestra under Frank Foster, Gil Evans Orchestra under Gil and Miles Evans, Jesseye Norman, George Russell, Don Friedman, Lou Donaldson, The Vanguard Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi/ Lew Tabakin Big Band, The Bob Mintzer Quartet and Big Band, John Hicks, George Cables, Peter Leitch, Larry Coryell, Peter Warren, Peter Yellin, Valerey Ponamarov, Junior Cook, Leon Thomas, The Sonny Fortune Quartet, Frank Morgan, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, Illinois Jacquet, The Billy Taylor trio, Michael Brecker, The Randy Brecker Quintet, Steve Kahn, Helen Merrill, Jack McDuff, Thomas Chapin Trio, Peter Brainin, Mario Pavone, Diane Schuur, Marty Ehrlich, Stanley Turrentine, Slide Hampton, Kenny Burrell, John McNeil, Mingus Big Band, Dakota Staton, The Jon Faddis Quartet 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 guest including Wynton Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, Joe Lavano, Arturo Sandoval, Ray Barreto, Milt Jackson, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Gary Burton, Harry Sweet Edison etc.

Mr. Johns co-leads his own recording project, “Ceremony,” on Malaco Cats Paw Records, with saxophonist Peter Brainin and Ben Monder and Sean Smith. Another Brainin/ Johns recording, “No Saints/No Sinners,” is on Playscape records and personnel include Eddie Henderson, George Cables, Conrad Herwig, Jay Anderson and Chris Rogers. Steve has been a member of the band Native Soul with Noah Haidu, Peter Brainin and Marcus Mclaurine. They release their new CD, "Soul Steps," in April 2011.

As well as having a busy performance schedule, Mr. Johns is a returning artist faculty at the Jazz In July Program and has taught at the Vermont Jazz Center, The Thelonius Monk Institute in Aspen Colorado, Williams College in Massachusetts, and is currently an adjunct instructor at Montclair State University.

 



Sheila Jordan
Sheila Jordan
Website

"Improvisation is putting total feeling into a song, learning the songs exactly as written (melody, chord changes) and then making it your own. Listen, listen and listen some more! Never force improvisation; let it happen naturally."


"Improvisation is putting total feeling into a song, learning the songs exactly as written (melody, chord changes) and then making it your own. Listen, listen and listen some more! Never force improvisation; let it happen naturally."
Born Sheila Jeanette Dawson in Detroit, Michigan on November 18, 1928, Sheila was raised in a poverty stricken town in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining country.  She began singing as a child and by the time she was 14, Sheila was working semi-professionally in Detroit clubs.  It was during this time, that Sheila connected with Charlie Parker who would become her musical guru. After moving to New York in the early 50’s, she married Charlie Parker’s pianist, Duke Jordan, and studied with Lennie Tristano, though it was not until the early 60’s that she made her first recordings. George Russel met Sheila while she was working at the “Page Three” club in Greenwich Village, and he was responsible for her breakthrough album “Portrait of Sheila” in 1962 on Blue Note Records. In the mid-60’s her work encompassed jazz liturgies sung in churches and extensive club work, but her appeal was narrow even within the confines of jazz.  By the late 70’s jazz audiences had begun to understand her uncompromising style a little more and her popularity increased-as did her appearances on record, which included albums with pianist Steve Kuhn, whose quartet she joined, and an album, Home, comprising a selection of Robert Creeley’s poems set to music and arranged by Steve Swallow.  Sheila is the pioneer of the bass and voice concept.  She has recorded with many fine jazz musicians aside from her own recordings on High Note and Justintime records.  Sheila still teaches and appears in concerts and clinics all over the world. 


Her awards include the New York City “Nitelife Achievement Award” for outstanding female vocalist, the “Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz for Lifetime Service” that was given in 2008, an “IAJE Humanitarian Award”, “MAC Lifetime Achievement Award”, “Lil Hardin Armstrong Jazz Heritage Award” Baker’s Keyboard Lounge Lifetime Achievement Award 2004”, the “Barry Harris Award For True Jazz Mastery 2003”, State of Michigan “Society for the culturally concerned” award 1995, “The Universal Jazz Coalition Award for Outstanding Jazz Contributions 1982”, a nine time recipient of the “Downbeat Critics Award, talent deserving of wider recognition 1962-1975” and two National Endowments for the arts grants.  In 2001, she was in the Top Five Best Female Vocalists in Downbeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll.  “Lost and Found” was the United Kingdom based Wire Magazine’s Best CD of the Year and “Confirmation” for Swing Journal in Japan was Vocal Album of the Year.

 



Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn  
(Week2)
Website

Brooklyn born Steve Kuhn was fascinated with jazz very early in his life. He began classical piano lessons at age five and soon began to "improvise and syncopate the classical repertoire."

In his early teens, Kuhn studied with legendary teacher Margaret Chaloff who schooled him in the "Russian Technique", an invaluable tool for tone production and projection. Chaloff's son, Serge, baritone saxophonist for Woody Herman, hired the 13 year-old pianist to play in his group. Throughout his teens Kuhn continued to play in Boston jazz clubs with visiting celebrities such as; Coleman Hawkins, Chet Baker, and Vic Dickenson.

After graduation from Harvard College, Kuhn attended the Lenox School of Music where he met and played in a group with fellow-students Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. The faculty included Bill Evans, George Russell, and Gunther Schuller. While at Lenox, Kuhn met trumpeter Kenny Dorham and began a two-year stint, interrupted when Kuhn was asked to join John Coltrane's newly-formed quartet.

Kuhn next joined Stan Getz's band, which included bassist Scott LaFaro. After a year with Art Farmer, he formed the first Steve Kuhn Trio, with drummer Pete LaRoca and bassist Steve Swallow. At the end of the 1960’s he spent four years living in Europe, where his performances had a significant impact upon local players. Upon returning to the United States, Kuhn began his long-term affiliation with ECM, resulting in a string of important albums including Trance, Ecstasy, Non-Fiction and the collaborations with Sheila Jordan; Playground and Last Year's Waltz.

In the mid-80’s, Kuhn co-founded the popular 'All Star Trio', with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster, and launched a new, and still evolving, edition of his trio with bassist David Finck. Drummers for the latter have included Joey Baron (as on the ECM recording Remembering Tomorrow), Lewis Nash, Billy Drummond, Kenny Washington and Bill Stewart. In the 90’s up to the present time, he has recorded CDs for Venus, Reservoir and Sunnyside.

In 2004, Kuhn recorded Promises Kept which includes a string orchestra for ECM Records, of which he is most proud. Kuhn continues to tour widely throughout the world, with a strong following in Europe and especially Japan where his CDs frequently appear on the jazz charts.

 



Arturo O'Farrill
Arturo O’Farrill 

Website

Pianist, composer, educator and winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003, Arturo O’Farrill was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2002, Mr. O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for Jazz at Lincoln Center due in part to a large and very demanding body of substantial music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban Jazz that deserves to be much more widely appreciated and experienced by the general jazz audience. His debut album with the Orchestra “Una Noche Inolvidable” earned a GRAMMY award nomination in 2006.

Educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Mr. O’Farrill played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983. He then went on to develop as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte.

In 1995 Mr. O’Farrill agreed to direct the band that preserved much of his father’s music, Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, which has been in residence at Birdland, New York City’s famed nightclub, for the past 13 years, as well as performing throughout the world as a solo artist and with his smaller groups.

Besides recording eight albums as a leader for Milestone Records, 32 Jazz, Zoho and M & I (Bloodlines, A Night in Tunisia, Cumana Bop, Live in Brooklyn, The Jim Seeley/Arturo O’Farrill Quintet, Song for Chico with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and In These Shoes, with Claudia Acuna), Mr. O’Farrill has appeared on numerous records including the Grammy-nominated Heart of a Legend, Carambola, and the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed movie Calle 54. Mr. O’Farrill was a special guest soloist at three landmark Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts— Afro-Cuban Jazz: Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, November 1995; Con Alma: The Latin Tinge in Big Band Jazz, September 1998; and the 2001 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala: The Spirit of Tito Puente, November 2001. In the Spring and Fall of 2002, he was also the featured artist in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz in the Schools Tour, when he led a Latin jazz quintet for more than 50 educational performances that reached over 10,000 students in NYC metropolitan area schools.

As an educator, he has taught master classes, seminars and workshops throughout the world for students and teachers of all levels. Recently, Mr. O’Farrill received the Distinguished Alumnus Medal from Brooklyn College and served as the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist in Residence at Lafayette College. In the summer of 2007, Mr. O’Farrill served as Visiting Artist at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and in 2007-2008 was Assistant Professor of Jazz at The University of Massachussetts in Amherst.

A recognized composer, Mr. O’Farrill has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, and The Big Apple Circus. He has also composed music for films including Hollywoodland and Salud. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, classical pianist Alison Deane, and their sons, Zachary and Adam, both accomplished musicians, and students at Laguardia High School for the Performing Arts. He is currently on the faculty of the State University of New York, Purchase.

 



Stephen Page
Stephen Page
(Piano)
Vocal Program
Website

Stephen's enthusiasm for the art of making music reaches deep down to his core. From there he can channel his emotions to reach others and hopefully let them experience something meaningful.

Stephen has vast performing and teaching experience all throughout New England and New York. In addition Stephen received his B.A. in Jazz Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a concentration in Jazz piano and contemporary improvisation. He has studied with a variety of teachers including Billy Taylor, Yusef Lateef, Andy LaVerne and Kenny Werner. Most notably Stephen had the opportunity to study with the renowned music educator Charlie Banacos extensively until his passing in 2009. He teaches private music lessons in his studio in Western Massachusetts, and at the Northampton Community Music Center in Northampton, MA. Stephen’s latest CD is entitled “From My World” and features an all-acoustic solo piano setting recorded at the UMass Fine Arts Center.

 



Genevieve Rose
Genevieve Rose 

Website

Genevieve Rose is a freelance acoustic/electric bassist who performs regularly with Jazz, Big Band, Dixieland, Vocal and Latin ensembles. National and International performances and tours include Benny Waters, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Tradewinds, the Benny Goodman Tribute Orchestra, The Sammy Kaye Orchestra, and her own trio, quartet and quintet. A Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts, she has been a faculty member of the University of Massachusetts Summer Music Programs since 1997, teaches private lessons at Amherst College, is the music director for Orchard Hill Elementary School in South Windsor , CT, and directs the Smith College Jazz Ensemble.

 



Felipe Salles
Felipe Salles

Website

Felipe Salles is a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who currently lives and performs in New York City. His group, The Felipe Salles Group is the result of this cultural fusion, a blend of elements from two of the richest musical traditions in the world: Brazilian/Latin music and Jazz.

Before coming to the United States, Felipe was active in numerous combos and bands as a saxophonist, composer and arranger. He played with such bands as Octeto de Musica Brasileira, Zerro Santos Big Band, Banda Farinha Seca, Zydeco Band, Santa Gafieira, Sampa Crew, Savoy Quartet, and the Axel Fisch Group, and has performed with Brazilian artists such as Daniela Mercury, Paulo Moura and Wagner Tiso.

Felipe Salles has been an active musician in the US since 1995, leading his own group. He has had the opportunity to work and record with prominent jazz artists like George Russell, Gunther Schuller, Sam Rivers, Herb Pomeroy, Jerry Bergonzi, Jovino Santos Neto, David Liebman, Oscar Stagnaro, Duduka Da Fonseca, Maucha Adnet, Tony Lujan, Luciana Souza, Bob Moses and Fernando Brandão. In addition, Felipe Salles has studied with such world-renowned musicians as David Liebman, Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Mintzer, George Garzone, Charlie Banacos, Michael Abene, Ludmila Uhlela and Kenny Werner.

As a composer and arranger, Felipe Salles has had arrangements and compositions performed by The Metropole Orchestra, Westchester Jazz Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, New England Conservatory Jazz Band, Five Towns College Jazz Orchestra, Five Towns College Concert Band.

Felipe Salles holds a Master of Music Degree in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory and is the first candidate ever to graduate with a Doctoral Degree in Jazz Advancement from Manhattan School of Music. He is currently on faculty at Manhattan School of Music Precollege Jazz Division, Five Towns College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Department of Music and Dance.

 



Saunders Sermons
Saunders Sermons
(Trombone)
Instrumental Ensembles Program Week 1
Website

Saunders Sermons is an American jazz, soul singer, songwriter and trombonist. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Sermons began singing at the age of five and progressed to playing the trombone by age 11. Since then, he has developed into an established independent recording artist with a formidable reputation as a highly sought-after musician.

As a trombonist, Sermons' brassy sounds can be heard on Fantasia's "Two weeks notice" and on Jay-Z's "Roc Boys", named Rolling Stone Magazine's Song of the Year 2007. He has performed with an eclectic mix of Hip-Hop and R&B heavyweights including 50 Cent; Diddy, who he accompanied on a European tour; Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige who he toured with for their VH-1 Specials; and R&B giant, Maxwell with whom he is currently touring with 2 time Grammy winner Maxwell.

Although Sermons admits that his first love was R&B, he fell in love with jazz music when in middle school. Majoring in jazz at The New School University in New York City enabled him to hone his skills as a trombonist and encouraged him to branch out as a singer and songwriter. Fusing jazz with pop, hip-hop and R&B is Sermons' own unique blend of artistry and has led to performances with renowned jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, R&B jazz saxophonist Mike Phillips, and recorded with jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton. When asked about his influences he quickly reels off a list of traditional and contemporary artists who came before him: Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Prince, Frank Sinatra and D'Angelo. Like these great musicians, Sermons is inspired and motivated by a genuine desire to reclaim the music's effortless elegance whilst setting a new industry standard.

Sermons' debut album, Classic Delight, was released in May 2009.

 


Avery Sharpe

Avery Sharpe
Instrumental Ensemble Program Week 2
Website

Sharpe began playing piano at age eight and also studied accordion in his youth. He learned both electric and acoustic bass as a teenager, then studied with Reggie Workman at the University of Massachusetts. He played with Wynton Marsalis and Pat Metheny before joining McCoy Tyner's sextet; from 1984 through 2002 he played with Tyner's trio. He has also played as a sideman with Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, Ricky Ford, Joe Ford, and others. As a leader, he has release on Sunnyside Records, and several albums on his own label, JKNM.
A switch-hitter on bass guitar and upright bass, his humming-and-bowing, à la Slam Stewart, as well as his chord work on stand-up bass make quite an impression when seeing and hearing him live.

 



Dr. Frederick Tillis
Dr. Frederick Tillis

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"I try to encourage students of improvisation or written composition to find their individual voice in expressing music."

Frederick Tillis was born in Galveston, Texas on January 5, 1930. He is a graduate of Wiley College and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of Iowa. His catalog includes more than 125 compositions and commissions, spanning both jazz and classical European traditions in various media - orchestral, jazz, instrumental, choral, chamber music, and vocal works. Melodic and harmonic textures reflect elements of various musics of the world, including Asian and Western cultures, as well as natural outgrowths of his ethnic and cultural background.

Tillis' music is performed nationally and abroad. Among his commissioned compositions are "A Symphony of Songs," a choral/orchestral work based on poems by Wallace Stevens and commissioned by The Hartford Chorale, Inc. (1999); "A Festival Journey," (1992) and "Ring Shout Concerto," (1974) for percussion, written for Max Roach and premiered by Max Roach and symphony orchestra; and "Concerto for Piano" (Jazz Trio) and symphony orchestra (1983) written for Billy Taylor and performed with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Tillis has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 1997 Commonwealth Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and an award for outstanding service from the International Association of Jazz Educators. As Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts, he taught music composition and a survey course in the history of Afro-American Music & Musicians.

Active as a jazz saxophonist, he has traveled with the Tillis-Holmes Jazz Duo and the Tradewinds Jazz Ensemble to Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the former Soviet Union, Switzerland, and Turkey. In addition, he recently visited the University of Fort Hare in South Africa, served as a Master Artist in residence at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village in Yamaguchi, Japan and conducted a three-week residency on behalf of the United States Information Agency at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand in 1991 to help the school establish a major in jazz.

Dr. Tillis has published seven books of poetry: In the Spirit and the Flesh, Images of Mind and Heart, In Celebration, Of Moons, Moods, Myths, and the Muse, Harlem Echoes, Children's Corner: From A to Z, and Seasons, Symbols, and Stones. Two other books of poetry, Akiyoshidai Diary, and Scattered Ghosts and Southern Winds, are currently in preparation for publication.

Dr. Tillis is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Music and Dance and serves as Director Emeritus of the University Fine Arts Center and Artistic Director of the Jazz in July Workshops in Improvisation at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

 



Rodney Whitaker
Rodney Whitaker
(Bass)
Instrumental Ensembles Program Week 1
Website

Rodney Whitaker is a Michigan treasure and one of the world's renowned Jazz bass performers and educators. A Detroit native, he grew up in the city soaking in the sounds of jazz/classical music and working/studying with the finest musicians in the city--Marcus Belgrave, Kenneth Cox, Donald Walden, Randy Gelispie, Stephen Molina, Robert Gladstone, Francisco Mora-Catlett, Alma Smith, Shahidah Nurullah and many, many others. Building on his Detroit roots and enormous talent, Whitaker went on to earn an international reputation as one of the world's finest jazz double bass performers. He completed a seven-year tenure as bassist with Wynton Marsalis Sextet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He has toured the world over the last twenty years, collaborating with legendary performers such as Dianne Reeves, Mulgrew Miller, Diana Krall, Terence Blanchard, Kathleen Battle, Cyrus Chestnut, Gerald Wilson, Carl Allen, Hank Jones, Marian McPartland, Johnny O'Neal, Kenny Burrell, Bob James, Benny Golson, Kenny Garrett, Branford Marsalis, the late John Lewis, Tommy Flanagan, Kevin Mahogany, Jon Carl Hendricks, Wycliffe Gordon, Jon Faddis, Vanessa Rubin, Betty Bebop Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Curtis Fuller, Donald Byrd, Dizzy Gilispie, Johnny Griffin, Joshua Redman, Cassandra Wilson, Pat Methany, Chick Corea and Roy Hargrove as well as with leading symphony orchestras.

Currently based in East Lansing, Michigan, Whitaker continues to remember his Detroit roots, serving many of the city's talented students as Director of the Detroit Civic Jazz Orchestra, Musical Director for Jazz Education at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Director of the Jazz in the Studio Mentorship Program and summer jazz camp in cooperation with the Arts League of Michigan. Currently, he is on Michigan State University's faculty as Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Jazz Bass and has built a leading jazz degree program and performing faculty, Michigan State University Professors of Jazz as the Artistic Director. His legacy of teaching promises to be distinguished and his former students currently perform with jazz greats such as Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Stephon Harris and many others.

 

 

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