Guest Artists and Faculty
Todd Coolman—Director, Bass, and Combo Leader
A Grammy award winner who teamed with Joe Henderson on the CD Lexicon, Coolman has performed and recorded with a who's who of jazz artists: Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Renee Rosnes, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Tommy Flanagan, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, James Moody, Ahmad Jamal, and Slide Hampton. As Director of Jazz Studies at SUNY Purchase, with a Ph.D. in music from New York University, Coolman works worldwide as a clinician and lecturer. He is a recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Recent recordings include Our Delight with Hank Jones and James Moody and Perfect Strangers, an ArtistShare project.
Mark Beaubriand—Academic Advisor and Saxophone
A graduate of the University of Miami with a master's degree in jazz pedagogy, Mark Beaubriand is currently chair of the Music Department and director of band and jazz band at Saratoga Springs High School. Under his direction, the Saratoga Springs High School Jazz Ensemble has won many New York State and national awards and has commissioned works by Frank Mantooth, Jeff Jarvis, and Jim Snidero. Beaubriand is a frequent performer in the northeast and has appeared with the Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices, Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Liberace, and Bobby Vinton.
Bill Cunliffe—Piano and Combo Leader
Winner of DownBeat and Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano awards, Cunliffe has performed with jazz greats such as Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, and Art Farmer. The Grammy-nominated composer's arrangements have been performed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the Illinois Philharmonic, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. He received his master's degree from the Eastman School of Music and tours frequently with his own trio and flutist Holly Hofmann. Recent releases include Transformation with James Walker and the All Saints Choir and The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take Two.
Curtis Fuller—Trombone and Combo Leader
A legendary jazz artist, Fuller began his career in the early 1950s in a Cannonball Adderley–led army band, as a Bud Powell sideman, and a contributor to John Coltrane's classic "Blue Train." He then joined the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet; spent five years with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, one of the most exciting and distinctive bands in the history of hard bop; and launched a freelance career that has included touring with Dizzy Gillespie. Fuller has worked with many jazz greats, including Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, and of course Bud Powell. In 2007 the National Endowment for the Arts designated Fuller a Jazz Master.
Educated at the Crane School of Music, drummer Bob Halek has performed and recorded with a variety of artists including Nick Brignola, JR Montross, Cole Broderick and Colleen Pratt. Adept at playing a range of styles including R&B, pop, and Latin in both big band and small ensembles, Halek's credits include performances with Slide Hampton, Byron Stripling, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Health, Wycliffe Gordon, and Randy Brecker, among others. A member of the Empire State Jazz Orchestra, Halek is also a respected clinician across the northeast.
John LaBarbera—Trumpet, Composition and Combo Leader
A respected composer and arranger whose works have been recorded and performed by the bands of Woody Herman, Count Basie, and Dizzy Gillespie, LaBarbera got his start in the late 1960s as a trumpeter in the Buddy Rich Orchestra. Later, as co-producer and arranger of Christmas recordings for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, he helped land Gold and Platinum records. LaBarbera is co-founder of the internationally acclaimed, all-women big band Diva. A two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts' jazz composition award, he is a former editor of the International Trumpt Guild and is currently a professor at the University of Louisville.
Pat LaBarbera—Saxophone and Combo Leader
One of the finest sax soloists carrying on in the Coltrane improvisational style, LaBarbera established himself as tenor soloist with the bands of Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and Woody Herman, and had a long association with Elvin Jones. Boasting more than 20 albums and many TV and radio show appearances, LaBarbera received a Juno award for his CD Deep in a Dream. The Humber College instructor maintains an active performing schedule and is in demand as a clinician and lecturer.
Dennis Mackrel—Drums and Combo Leader
Mackrel is probably best known as the drummer hand-picked by Mel Lewis to take over the drum chair in the Village Vanguard Orchestra. He got his start playing in the Count Basie Orchestra in 1983 and was appointed musical director of the Orchestra in the summer of 2010. He has played with an impressive list of ensembles including the Carla Bley Very Large Band, Slide Hampton and the Jazz Masters, the Hank Jones Trio, Manhattan Symphony Jazz Orchestra, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, and the American Jazz Orchestra. Mackrel's compositions have been recorded and performed internationally, most notably by the McCoy Tyner Band, whose Grammy-award winning CD's The Turning Point and Journey included Mackrel's arrangements.
Donald McCormack—Program Consultant
As Dean of Special Programs at Skidmore College, Don McCormack founded the Skidmore Jazz Institute in 1987. Under McCormack's 20-year tenure as dean, the College offered nationally recognized programs in the arts, among them the NYS Summer Writers Institute, Skidmore Summer Dance Workshop, Skidmore Summer Flute Institute, SITI Company Summer Theater Workshop and the Summer SIX Art Program. A long-time advocate for arts education, McCormack has been the inspiration and the impetus for creating artistic residencies and scholarship funds that serve disadvantaged students. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Hal Miller—Jazz History
Having collected in excess of 14,000 jazz videos, Miller contributes frequently to TV documentaries and special programs. His Jazz Heritage series was shown on Black Entertainment Television, and he collaborated with Ken Burns on the PBS documentary Jazz: A History of America's Music. Miller is director of programming for Jazz Video Networks and associate producer for Jazz Icons, providing rare jazz video materials to colleges and universities. He frequently tours with the Carlos Santana Band and is collaborating with Santana on the notes for a Columbia Legacy boxed set of hitherto unreleased Miles Davis live recordings. Miller is also a writing and research consultant for jazz history and CD liner-note projects.
A Troy native, guitarist George Muscatello studied at Schenectady County Community College and the Manhattan School of Music. While at Manhattan, he honed his skills with Wayne Krantz and Rodney Jones while immersing himself in the music of modern classical composers such as Bela Bartok and Leo Brouwer. Well known in the Capital District music scene, Muscatello is a member of the Brian Patnaude Quartet and has performed with Nick Brignola, Dave Calarko, and Mike Bisio among others. His longstanding weekly jazz series at Savannah's, the Lionheart Café, and QE2 have further made him a mainstay in the region. A respected lecturer, Muscatello has been teaching at Skidmore College since 2007.
John Nazarenko—Avid ProTools Workshop
John Nazarenko is Senior Artist-in-Residence at Skidmore College and a renowned jazz pianist. He is also a music producer and engineer and has owned and operated The Creek Studio, a full production facility offering complete recording services, since 1980. Nazarenko is also on the faculty at Williams College, directs the jazz ensemble at the Luzerne Music Center, and has authored several books in jazz studies. He performs as a soloist with numerous ensembles at jazz clubs and concert venues and has recorded with Eric Harland, Reuben Rogers, Chuck D'Aloia, and Colleen Pratt among others. His latest live recording project features Eric Harland and Matt Penman and is due for release in 2013.
Michael Rodriguez - Trumpet and Combo Leader
Trumpeter/composer, Michael Rodriguez was inspired to pursue music by his father, drummer Roberto Rodriguez. After studying at the New World School of the Arts and the University of Miami, he received his B.A. from the New School University. He has performed and toured with Eric Reed, Clark Terry, Bobby Watson, Quincy Jones, Joe Lovano, Jon Faddis, the Clayton Brothers Quintet, Harry Connick, Jr. and pop icon Jessica Simpson. He has also performed with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra, Chico O’Farrill Orchestra, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and is a member of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. He has recorded three albums with his brother, pianist Robert Rodriguez: Introducing the Rodriguez Brothers, Conversations, and their most recent album Mood Swing. Other recording credits include Charlie Haden’s 2003 Grammy Award-winning album Land of the Sun, Not in Our Name with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, and Avatar (Blue Note Label) with the Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet. Rodriguez is on the faculty at New York University and currently travels around the globe giving master classes and workshops.Bobby Shew—Trumpet and Combo Leader
Grammy nominee Bobby Shew got an early start to his professional career playing in high school and spending three years in the famed NORAD multi-service band. He then joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and went on to play with Charlie Shavers, Della Reese, Buddy Rich, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Horace Silver, Louie Bellson, and Benny Goodman, among others. His studio credits for TV include Hawaii 5-0, Streets of San Francisco, Bob Newhart, Happy Days, and Mary Tyler Moore, and he has performed on the soundtracks for Grease I and II, Rocky I and II, and Taxi. In addition to being a busy clinician and private teacher, he is a successful recording artist in his own right. Shew is active on the board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild and has served as trumpet chairman of the International Association of Jazz Educators for the last 16 years.
Gerald Zaffuts—Combo Leader
Gerald Zaffuts is the founding Director of the Skidmore Jazz Institute (1987-2007) and was instrumental in starting the College’s jazz program in the early 80’s. A graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, he has also taught at Bennington College, SUNY Albany and Schenectady Community College. Zaffuts was principle trombone with the Colorado Fusion Orchestra under the direction of Pat Williams and has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Bach Choir of London, and at the Newport and Kool Jazz Festivals as well as with a wide variety of recording artists and entertainers. He has recorded with the New Columbian Brass Band and The New Walnut Street All-Star Orchestra, and worked as a post-session producer for Dorian Recordings. In 2011 he received the Olmsted Award for Excellence in Secondary Teaching from Williams College.