Click the name of each faculty member to jump to their full bio.
Former Institute faculty members can be seen here.
|Todd Coolman||Director||Sean Jones||Trumpet|
|Mark Beaubriand||Academic Advisor & Saxophone||Vic Juris||Guitar & Combo Leader|
|Paul Bollenback||Guitar & Combo Leader||Dennis Mackrel||Drums and Combo Leader|
|James Burton III||Trombone & Combo Leader||John Nazarenko||Avid ProTools Workshop|
|Bill Cunliffe||Piano & Combo Leader||Michael Rodriguez||Trumpet & Combo Leader|
|Michael Dease||Trombone & Combo Leader||Doug Weiss||Bass & Combo Leader|
|Jimmy Greene||Tenor Saxophone & Combo Leader||David Wong||Bass & Combo Leader|
|Bob Halek||Drums||Gerald Zaffuts||Trombone & Combo Leader|
|Antonio Hart||Alto Saxophone & Combo Leader||Administration|
Todd Coolman - Director
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 & 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.
Paul Bollenback - Guitar & Combo Leader
Born just outside Chicago, Illinois, Bollenback was raised in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, and got his earliest musical nudge from his father, a classically trained trumpeter. The elder Bollenback, a scientist, relocated the family from New York to New Delhi, India when he was 11, and so began a life-long interest in exotic musical sounds and timbres that remain evident in most of his work. Bollenback went on to major in music at the University of Miami, then studied with Baltimore-based professor of Theory/Composition Asher Zlotnick. In 1987 he made his recording debut on Gary Thomas’s Seventh Quadrant (Enja), and in 1990 established a working relationship with the young organ legend Joey DeFrancesco, an association that lasts to this day and has produced 18 recordings.
In 1997, Bollenback was named Musician of the Year at the Washington Area Music Awards. Bollenback debuted as a leader with Original Visions (Challenge) and has many recordings including most recently Brightness of Being (ED4548) and Invocation (ED4550). He has appeared on the Tonight Show, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and Entertainment Tonight, and has played with an impressive line-up of musicians, including Steve Gadd, Gary Bartz, Paul Bley, Charlie Byrd, Terri-Lyne Carrington, Herb Ellis, Geoffrey Keezer, Mike LeDonne, Joe Locke, Jack McDuff, James Moody, David "Fathead" Newman, Jim Snidero, Carol Sloane, Gary Thomas, Grady Tate, Stanley Turrentine, and Jeff "Tain" Watts, vocalist-composer, Chris McNulty and in the group East Meets Jazz with the renowned tabla virtuoso Sandip Burman, to name a few. In 2011 Bollenback garnered a Grammy nomination for co-production on Joey DeFrancesco's Never Can Say Goodbye (Hi Note). His international and national touring schedule currently includes appearances with Joey DeFrancesco, Mike LeDonne, Jim Snidero, Gary Smullyan, Buster Williams, Chris McNulty's Magic Trio, as well as with his own trio.
James Burton III - Trombone & Combo Leader
New York-based trombonist James Burton III is quickly earning a reputation as one of the most sought after performers/educators in the jazz community. Mentored by jazz luminaries Jackie McLean and Curtis Fuller, Burton has performed and/or recorded alongside many great jazz artists, the likes of which include Illinois Jacquet, Gerald Wilson, James Moody, Frank Wess, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Sir Ron Carter, Joe Chambers, Charles Tolliver and Christian McBride.
Burton has also performed with the Ray Charles Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra and the Roy Hargrove Big Band. Formerly the Director of Jazz Studies at Snow College, he is currently professor of jazz theory and applied jazz trombone at the Juilliard School as well as conductor of the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra. Burton has most recently accepted the position of trombonist/Associate Conductor for the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Star Orchestra, a band providing the music for the acclaimed Broadway show After Midnight. Burton is a former participant at the Skidmore Jazz Institute.
Bill Cunliffe - Piano and Combo Leader
Pianist, composer and Grammy Award-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe has worked with legends including Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, Ray Brown, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Art Farmer. He currently performs with his trio; his big band; his Latin band, Imaginación; and his classical-jazz ensemble, Trimotif. Recent releases include his trio album “River Edge, New Jersey,” and his Overture, Waltz and Rondo for jazz piano, trumpet and orchestra, which won Cunliffe his fifth Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition. Cunliffe is a jazz studies professor at Cal State Fullerton. He received his master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and was the 1989 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition.
Michael Dease - Trombone & Combo Leader
Michael Dease has emerged as one of the premier jazz trombonists of his generation. Born in Augusta, Georgia, the “Deep South”, Dease played the saxophone and trumpet before choosing the trombone. He was a self-taught high school senior when he moved to New York in 2001 to study at the Juilliard School where he earned his Bachelor and Master degrees. Dease quickly established his reputation as a soloist and sideman, recording 4 albums as a leader and logging over 100 sessions as a sideman, all before the age of 30. His 4 critically praised releases as a leader include: The Takeover (2005), Clarity (2007), Dease Bones (2008) and Grace (2010).
His latest album, Coming Home on D Clef Records features pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Christian McBride, drumer Ulysses Owens Jr, and saxophonist Steve Wilson, plus a guest appearance by tenor sax man Eric Alexander. The Grammy award-winning trombonist, has played with many of today's foremost jazz orchestras, including those led by Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Charles Tolliver and Rufus Reid. Dease has also performed with Winard Harper, Renee Rosnes, Bill Charlap, Claudio Roditi, The Heath Brothers, Lewis Nash, Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Paul Schaffer and the CBS Orchestra, Elton John, Neal Diamond, Illinois Jacquet, Slide Hampton, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, WDR Big Band, George Gruntz, Billy Harper, and numerous others. He learned his craft from trombone legends Wycliffe Gordon and Joseph Alessi and is frequently asked to host master classes in the U.S. and abroad. Dease teaches jazz trombone full time at Michigan State University and has also been on faculty at Queens College CUNY, The New School and Northeastern University. In addition to leading his own quartet, quintet and sextet, he conducts his own 17-piece big band.
Jimmy Greene - Tenor Saxophone & Combo Leader
A native of Hartford, CT, saxophonist, composer, and educator Jimmy Greene has emerged as a positive presence in the jazz world. His 9 solo recordings, including his most recent Live at Smalls (SmallsLive), have been met with much critical acclaim. Greene was First Runner-Up in the 1996 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, and was named one of the “25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz” by DownBeat Magazine in 1999. He graduated from the Hartt School in 1997 and received his Masters in Music Education from Boston University in 2012. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Jazz Arts at the Manhattan School of Music. His mentors include Jackie McLean, Jim McNeely, Garry Dial, Justin DiCioccio, David Liebman, Dave Santoro, Kris Jensen, Steve Davis, Ken Radnofsky and Janet Arms.
His Quartet performs regularly in jazz venues, festivals and clubs worldwide. In addition to his recordings and appearances as a leader, Greene appears on over 70 albums as a sideman, and has toured and/or recorded with Horace Silver, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Harry Connick, Jr., Avishai Cohen, Kenny Barron, Lewis Nash, Steve Turre, the New Jazz Composers Octet and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, among many others. Greene is Assistant Professor of Music and Co-Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT and has previously taught at the University of Manitoba, Purchase College (State University of New York), the Hartt School (University of Hartford) and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. Greene has given clinics and master classes throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, Israel and Russia.
Bob Halek - Drums
Teacher and percussionist Bob Halek is a native of upstate New York. As a musician, his versatility keeps him very active recording and performing with artists from many different disciplines: Big Band, Jazz, Latin, Funk, Country, Classical and R&B. He has performed on the Food Network, Newport Jazz Festival, as well as concerts, festivals and clubs throughout the Northeast. His current schedule includes performances with The Empire Jazz Orchestra, Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble, The Capitol Region Wind Ensemble, City Rhythm and various club bands. Halek was named the 2012 district wide teacher of the year in the East Greenbush School District where he teaches instrumental music. He also has appeared as a clinician and guest conductor for various concert bands, jazz bands and percussion ensembles.
Antonio Hart - Alto Saxophone & Combo Leader
As a young musician Antonio Hart felt his fated audition for the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts helped begin his life in music. He went on to study at the Berklee College of Music with Bill Pierce, Andy McGhee, and Joe Viola. These three teachers inspired Hart and gave him the foundation to develop into a professional musician. He received his degree in Music Education and made many friends while at Berklee, but perhaps one of his most important connections was when he met Roy Hargrove. Hart and Hargrove spent the following three years touring the world and recording Hargrove's first three records. Hart considers Hargrove to be his brother in life and music and Hargrove appeared on Hart’s first album For the First Time.
While on the road, Hart continued his education and pursued a Masters Degree at Queens College where had the opportunity to learn from Jazz Masters Jimmy Heath and Donald Byrd. Hart felt blessed and honored when Mr. Heath produced his second recording Don't You Know I Care. His 1997 release, Here I Stand (Impulse Records), earned Hart a 1997 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. Since then, Hart has recorded seven CDs as a leader including his latest, All We Need (Chiaroscuro Records). Hart is an in-demand guest artist and has appeared on over 80 recordings. He balances his time between being a full-time Professor at The Aaron Copland school of Music, Queens College and traveling on the road with his band, The Dave Holland Big band, and The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band.
Sean Jones - Trumpet
Composer, trumpeter/educator/activist, Sean Jones sang and performed as a child in the church choir in his hometown of Warren, Ohio. Originally a drummer, he discovered Jazz and the trumpet at ten years old after hearing Miles Davis Kind of Blue and Amandla. Jones went on to study at Youngstown State University and receive his Master's Degree from Rutgers University. His mentors include trumpeter Esotto Pellegrini and Professor William Fielder. Five years later he was offered a temporary position that grew into a permanent appointment as the lead trumpeter with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO). He participated in two recordings with the LCJO and stayed with them until 2010. During that time he began touring and performing on his own and started his longtime relationship with Mack Avenue Records. He just released his seventh recording, im.pro.vise = never before seen on that label.
He has played with Charles Fambrough, the Fort Apache Band, Joe Lovano, Chico O'Farrill, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson and Marcus Miller to name a few. The relationship with Miller led to another highly impacting experience when Jones was selected by Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter for their Tribute to Miles tour in 2011.
Education is also a major element in Jones' ongoing activities. Shortly after joining the LCJO he began teaching at Duquesne University in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, where until recently, he served as Associate Professor of Jazz. In 2012 he also became Professor of Trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Most recently he has been appointed Chair of the Brass Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Despite this intense level of activity, Jones also serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras, overseeing both their annual concert series. His current performance focus is working with the quartet on his latest CD featuring pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire.
Vic Juris - Guitar & Combo Leader
A native of Jersey City, N.J., Victor Juris took up guitar at age 10, in 1963. By the mid-1960s, he was playing with rock and R&B bands in his area. He discovered jazz in his late teens and subsequently studied with Philly jazz guitar legend Pat Martino. In 1975, Juris made his recording debut on alto saxophonist Eric Kloss' Bodies' Warmth (Muse). He later gigged with fusioneer Barry Miles before hooking up with alto-sax burner Richie Cole, appearing on two hot, boppish offerings in 1977's Alto Madness and 1978's Keeper of the Flame (both on Muse). In the early '80s, Juris immersed himself in acoustic guitar, performing duets with Larry Coryell and Biréli Lagrène, and by the late '80s he joined bassist Gary Peacock's group.
Juris has been a member of the David Liebman group since 1991. This band has recorded 10 CDs, traveled throughout Europe, Japan, Israel, and the United States throughout the 1990s and is still going strong. He was a member of the Gary Peacock Quartet and musical director of the Charles Mingus Guitar Quintet. Juris performed at George Wein's J.V.C. Festival, in duets with John Abercrombie and Russell Malone. He has also performed with Jeremy Steig, James Moody and Charlie Mariano to name a few.
As a leader Juris performs in the United States and in European venues. His own quartet includes saxophonist Dick Oatts. His band has recorded albums on Steeple Chase, Night Tripper, Pastels (1997), Moonscape (1998), and Remembering Eric Dolphy (2000). His CD Songbook hit top 10 pics in 2000. Juris has also recorded on Double Time Records' Music of Alec Wilder. His 2004 release of Blue Horizon listed him as top pics for the year 2004. Juris teaches at Rutgers University and Lehigh University and has conducted clinics throughout the United States and Europe.
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 since that time 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.
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.
Doug Weiss - Bass & Combo Leader
Raised in Chicago, Illinois, Bassist Doug Weiss has lived and performed in the New York City jazz scene since graduating from the William Paterson College jazz studies program in 1988. His first International travel was to Japan with the legendary singer Joe Williams in 1991 and that same year he joined the faculty of the New School University. In 1995 Weiss recorded the first of two critically acclaimed Blue Note records under the leadership of pianist Kevin Hays. His relationship with Hays continues with 10 cds recorded and touring appearances in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Other recording, touring and performing credits include Lizz Wright’s Salt, Al Foster, Brian Blade and the Fellowhip band, guitarist Peter Bernstein's "Monk" project, Bill Stewart, the Eli Degibri quartet, Marc Copland with band Crosstalk featuring Victor Lewis, Greg Osby, and himself, and the collective "Wayfarer", featuring Timothy Hill, Jeff Haynes, and Brandon Ross. In 2004 Weiss was invited to join the Faculty at SUNY Purchase. Recently, Weiss was featured, along with Billy Drummond and John Scofield, on Eddie Henderson's release For All We Know (Furthermore Records). Of particular interest is his work with Peter Bernstein, Brad Mehldau, and Bill Stewart, a special quartet that convenes every year at Smoke in New York City. Weiss continues to circulate in the New York club scene with the likes of Mike Moreno, Sam Yahel, Bruce Barth, Gerald Clayton, Chris Potter, Jim Snidero, and Francisco Mela. Doug Weiss has also performed and recorded with such notable figures as Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lee Konitz, Jacky Terrasson, Eddie Henderson, Lew Tabakin, Walt Weiskopf, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and Joshua Redman. Weiss has been part of 2 Grammy nominated works, both by Folk Legend Pete Seeger.
David Wong - Bass & Combo Leader
Bassist David Wong was born and raised in New York City. In 2004, he graduated from the Juilliard School in classical music. He has studied with Orin O’Brien (New York Philharmonic), Ron Carter, Ben Wolfe, and John Clayton. He is currently a member of Roy Haynes’ “Fountain of Youth” band, The "Heath Brothers" Quartet – led by jazz legends Jimmy Heath and Albert "Tootie" Heath, The Benny Green trio, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Wong was also the last bass player in Hank Jones' "Great Jazz Trio" and is featured on the piano master's last recording. He has performed in many of the major concert halls and jazz clubs throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
He can also be seen regularly performing with Steve Kuhn, Brian Lynch's "Unsung Heroes Project", Ralph Lalama's "Bop Juice", the Jeb Patton Trio, the Dan Nimmer Trio, the Aaron Diehl Trio, Ray Gallon, Grant Stewart, Dmitry Baevsky, and Sachal Vasandani. He has recorded with Hank Jones, Roy Haynes, Jimmy Heath, Albert "Tootie" Heath , The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Benny Green, Dick Oatts, Joe Magnerelli, Wycliffe Gordon, Russell Malone, Brian Lynch, John Marshall, Grant Stewart, Dmitry Baevsky, Fabien Mary, and Walt Weiskopf. Wong has performed with Clark Terry, Frank Wess, Joe Wilder, Jimmy Wormworth, Illinois Jacquet, Lou Donaldson, Barry Harris, Slide Hampton, Andy Bey, Bill Charlap, Bennie Wallace, Wynton Marsalis, Terell Stafford, Gary Smulyan, Eric Reed, Michael Weiss, Kenny Washington, and Lewis Nash. Wong is a former participant at the Skidmore Jazz Institute and is currently an adjunct professor at the New School and Queens College..Gerald Zaffuts - Trombone & 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.
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.
Brian Carucci – Administrative Coordinator
Brian Carucci is a band director at Shenendehowa High School where he teaches Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and two Jazz Ensembles. In addition, he is the pit orchestra director for the Shenendehowa High School Musical and the advisor of the Shenendehowa chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society.
Carucci serves as Assistant Conductor for the New York State Summer School for the Arts (NYSSSA), School of Orchestral Studies Wind Ensemble and is the Administrative Coordinator for the Skidmore Jazz Institute. An adjunct clarinet instructor at Schenectady County Community College, Carucci is also an active woodwind adjudicator for the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA).
Carucci has performed with the Northern Symphonic Winds, the Capital District Wind Ensemble, the Schenectady Light Opera Company (SLOC), and the Glens Falls Symphony. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Music Education and Master's degree in Music Performance from Crane School of Music.