Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
Skidmore Jazz Institute

Institute Faculty 2020

Former Institute faculty members can be seen here.

Mark Beaubriand - Director & Saxophone

A graduate of the University of Miami with a master's degree in jazz pedagogy, Mark Beaubriand began his musical career teaching at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY where heMark Beaubriand worked with many different genres. He is the former Director of Music for the Saratoga Springs City School District where he worked with woodwinds, the Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band. Under his leadership, the Jazz Ensemble received many state and national awards and commissioned works by Frank Mantooth, Jeff Jarvis, Bill Cunliffe and Jim Snidero.  He is most proud of his former students who have become teachers and/or performers. Beaubriand has performed with the New York Voices, Manhattan Transfer, Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, Liberace, The O’Jays, The Temptations and The Four Tops. He has been with the Skidmore Jazz Institute since 1990.    

 

Todd Coolman - Artistic Director, Bass & Combo Leader

Todd Coolman

Grammy Award-winning bassist and educator, Coolman has performed and recorded with top jazz artists such as Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Slide Hampton, Jon Faddis and James Moody. A Professor of Music at SUNY Purchase, he is a recipient of SUNY’s Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and holds a Ph.D. from New York University. Coolman is also on the faculty at his alma mater, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and works worldwide as a clinician and lecturer. His recordings include Collectables with his trio Trifecta (Bill Cunliffe and Dennis Mackrel), Our Delight, Perfect Strangers, and 4B, the last recording of James Moody and winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.  

Bill Cunliffe – Piano & Combo Leader

Bill CunliffePianist, 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.

 

Steve Davis - Trombone & Combo Leader

Steve DavisOne of today’s leading improvisers on the trombone, Davis’ lyrical, hard-swinging style first gained him broad recognition during the 1990’s while working with the bands of Art Blakey, Jackie McLean, Chick Corea’s Origin and the cooperative sextet, One For All. He has appeared in Downbeat Magazine’s Reader’s and Critic’s Polls and was nominated by The JJA four years in a row as Trombonist of the Year. Recent recordings include For Real and Gettin’ It Done (Positone). He graduated from The Hartt School (Jackie McLean Institute—University of Hartford, CT). McLean helped Davis land his first major gig with Art Blakey in NYC in 1989. In 1991 Davis joined McLean’s sextet and began teaching alongside his mentor at the Artist’s Collective and the Hartt School of Music where he remains on the faculty. As a leader, he frequently performs with Larry Willis, Mike DiRubbo, David Bryant, Dezron Douglas, Eric McPherson, and continues to perform with One For All (Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, David Hazeltine, John Webber and Joe Farnsworth). Davis is in demand as a sideman, has been featured on over 100 recordings and has also played with the Larry Willis’ Quintet, Freddie Hubbard and The New Jazz Composers Octet, Slide Hampton and The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band, The Jimmy Heath Big Band, Ron Carter Big Band, Cecil Payne, Horace Silver and Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. 

Michael Dease - Trombone & Combo Leader

Michael Dease

Michael Dease has emerged as one of the premier jazz trombonists of his generation. The Georgia native 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's and master's degrees. He has recorded nine albums as a leader and logged over 100 sessions as a sideman. His latest album is All These Hands on Posi-Tone Records. Dease is a Grammy Award-winning musician who has played with many of today's foremost jazz orchestras, including those led by Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, and Rufus Reid. He has also performed with Renee Rosnes, The Heath Brothers, Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Lewis Nash and Slide Hampton among others. He teaches jazz trombone at Michigan State University in addition to leading his own quartet, quintet and sextet, and conducting his own 17-piece big band. 

 

Bob Halek - Drums, Combo & Administration

Bob HalekTeacher 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. He has performed with a Who's Who list of jazz musicians in festivals and in 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 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 is also on the faculty at Skidmore College teaching small jazz groups, percussion and drum set lessons. Halek also has appeared as a clinician and guest conductor for various concert bands, jazz bands and percussion ensembles.

 

Antonio Hart– Alto Saxophone & Combo Leader

Antonio HartAntonio Hart’s jazz studies began at the Berklee College of Music under Bill Pierce, Andy McGhee and Joe Viola. While at Berklee, Hart met Roy Hargrove and subsequently spent the next three years recording and touring with him. While on the road, he was also pursuing his master’s degree at Queens College, where he studied under jazz masters Donald Byrd and Jimmy Heath. Heath produced his second recording Don’t You Know I Care, and Hart has eight CDs as a leader to his credit; the latest is Blessings on JLP Productions. His 1997 album Here I Stand (Impulse Records) earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and he has been on over 100 recordings to date. Hart tours frequently with his band and the Dave Holland Big Band and Dizzy Gillespie Big Band. He is a Professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.  

Clay Jenkins – Trumpet & Combo Leader

Clay JenkinsClay Jenkins' career as a performer began when he joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra in 1977. He moved to Los Angeles and soon after joined the The Buddy Rich Big Band and then The Count Basie Orchestra. He became a charter member of The Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (CHJO) along with the great Snooky Young. He has 8 solo recordings and has recorded with Joe LaBarbera, Milt Jackson, Steve Houghton, Diana Krall, Kim Richmond, Billy Harper, “Trio East,” Lyle Mays, Peter Erskine, Gene Bertoncini, Rufus Reid, Ray Brown, Kurt Elling, Bob Sheppard, Jim Widner, John LaBarbera, Pat LaBarbera and Miki Coltrane among others. He has performed on 3 Grammy Nominated Albums including The Alan Ferber Big Band, The Dave Slonaker Jazz Orchestra and Chuck Owens’ Surge Big Band. Jenkins is a Professor of Jazz Trumpet at The Eastman School of Music and maintains a busy performing schedule.

Vic Juris - Guitar & Combo Leader

Vic Juris

The Jersey City, N.J. native took up guitar at age 10 and went on to study with jazz guitar legend Pat Martino. In 1975, Juris made his recording debut on alto saxophonist Eric Kloss' Bodies' Warmth (Muse). He has performed with Barry Miles, Richie Cole, Larry Coryell, Biréli Lagrène, Gary Peacock, John Abercrombie, Russell Malone and James Moody, among others, and has been a member of the David Liebman Group since 1991. He tours regularly with his own quartet and his recordings include Night Tripper, Pastels, Moonscape, Remembering Eric Dolphy and Songbook. Juris teaches at Rutgers University and Lehigh University and conducts clinics throughout the United States and Europe.

Brian Lynch - Trumpet & Combo Leader

Brian LynchTrumpeter and Grammy Award -winner Brian Lynch honed his skills in the world’s most distinguished academies, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet. He has had long tenures with Latin Jazz legend Eddie Palmieri and straight ahead master Phil Woods. He has collaborated with Jazz artists such as Benny Golson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Charles McPherson; Latin music icons as diverse as Hector LaVoe and Lila Downs; and pop luminaries such as Prince. As a bandleader and recording artist he has released over 20 critically-acclaimed CDs and toured the world with various ensembles reflecting the wide sweep of his music. He is an associate professor at the Frost School Of Music, University of Miami and is in demand world-wide for clinics and workshops. His talents have been recognized by the Downbeat Critics and Readers Polls; highly rated reviews for his work in Downbeat, Jazziz and Jazz Times; 2005 and 2007 Grammy Award nominations, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and Meet The Composer. 

Dennis Mackrel – Drums & Combo Leader

Dennis Mackrel

Mackrel got his start playing in the Count Basie Orchestra in 1983, and would be the last drummer hired by Mr. Basie personally. Since then has played with an impressive list of ensembles, including the Village Vanguard Orchestra, 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, who’s Grammy-Award-winning CDs The Turning Point (Verve Records, 1992) and Journey (Verve Records, 1993) included Mackrel's arrangements. He has also played with a host of other musicians that include Monty Alexander, Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones, Hank Jones and Sir George Shearing. In 2010 Mackrel returned to the Count Basie Orchestra and served as the ensemble’s leader and chief conductor until 2013. Since 2015 he has been the chief conductor of the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Holland. Mackrel is also currently a professor at Queens College.

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.

Jim Snidero - Saxophone and Combo Leader

Jim SnideroAlto saxophonist, composer, and arranger Jim Snidero has been called a “master musician” and “alto saxophone virtuoso” by Downbeat Magazine, and placed in the 2017 Downbeat Critic’s Poll. He is a veteran recording artist with 20 solo recordings to his credit including Blue Afternoon (Criss-Cross), listed in The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History Of  The Music In The 1001 Best Albums, and Strings (Milestone/Fantasy). As a sideman he has played with the Mingus Big Band, Frank Sinatra, Eddie Palmieri, and Brother Jack McDuff, among others. Snidero was also granted a NEA grant to record with Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland. In addition to his performance activities Snidero is a well-known author and educator. His best-selling Jazz Conception book series (Advance Music) contains over forty books, has been translated into 4 languages, and is an incredibly popular jazz education resource. In 2013, Snidero created The Jazz Conception Company, which offers online and mobile-compatible jazz student workshops, video play alongs and apps. Snidero has been a visiting professor at Princeton University and Indiana University and is currently on the adjunct faculty at New School University and New Jersey City University. 

Administration

Brian Carucci – Assistant Director

Brian Carucci is a band director at Shenendehowa High School where he teaches Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, instrumental lessons and is the pit orchestra director for the High School Musical Company. He is a woodwind adjudicator the NYS School Music Association and coordinates the annual Shen Jazz Festival with over 300 local jazz students. He has played with Albany Pro Musica, Northern Symphonic Winds, Capital Region Wind Ensemble, Schenectady Light Opera Company and Glens Falls Symphony and maintains his own private teaching studio in Rexford. Carucci has served as Assistant Conductor for the NYSSSA School of Orchestral Studies and as adjunct clarinet instructor at Schenectady County Community College. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Music Education and Master's degree in Music Performance from the Crane School of Music.

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.

Gerald Zaffuts - Program Consultant

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.