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Jazz Studies & Performance Faculty

The Jazz Studies & Performance program at the William Paterson Department of Music has both full-time and adjunct Jazz Studies faculty.

Full-time Jazz Studies Faculty


Bill Charlap, Director of Jazz Studies
Bill Charlap, who was named Director of Jazz Studies beginning in September 2015, is considered one of the world’s premiere jazz pianists. He has performed with many leading artists, ranging from Phil Woods and Tony Bennett to Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis. He is known for his interpretations of American popular songs and has recorded albums featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin. His 2015 all-Jerome Kern CD with Tony Bennett was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1997, Charlap formed the Bill Charlap Trio with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, which is now recognized as one of the leading groups in jazz. He has received two Grammy Award nominations: for Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein and The Bill Charlap Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard. A Blue Note Records recording artist since 2000, Charlap was pianist and musical director for The Blue Note 7, an all-star jazz septet celebrating the legacy of Blue Note Records on its 70th anniversary. The septet performed a 50-city tour and released the CD, Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Records. Charlap also serves as the artistic director of New York City’s Jazz in July Festival at the 92nd Street Y and has produced several concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center. Born in New York City, Charlap began playing the piano at age three. His father was Broadway composer Moose Charlap, whose credits include Peter Pan, and his mother is singer Sandy Stewart, who appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Perry Como shows and earned a Grammy nomination for her recording of “My Coloring Book.” In 2005, Charlap and Stewart released the acclaimed CD, Love Is Here To Stay (Blue Note). He is married to renowned jazz pianist Renee Rosnes, with whom he often collaborates in a duo piano setting.



David Demsey, Coordinator of Jazz Studies, Transcription and Analysis, Improvisation I-III, Saxophone
Education: D.M.A., Eastman School of Music; M.M., The Juilliard School, B.M University of Maine. Metropolitan Opera under James Levine and John Adams, including national broadcast of Adams' "Nixon in China;" New York Philharmonic since 1995, including 1997 Latin American and 2000 Europe Tours; US national tour with Kirov Orchestra/Valery Gergiev; American Saxophone Quartet for over a decade; New Hudson Saxophone Quartet. Performances with Clark Terry, Milt Hinton, Rufus Reid, Jim McNeely, Alan Dawson, John Riley, Steve Smith. Two solo recordings, of music by Alec Wilder and interactive computer music. Author: Alec Wilder Biobibliography, John Coltrane Plays "Giant Steps" (Hal Leonard Artist Transcription Series); chapter essay in Oxford Companion to Jazz. Contributing editor: Saxophone Journal, Jazz Player. Five Verve CD liner notes. Selmer saxophone clinician; workshops at over 90 colleges, festivals, including WP tours of Nanjing and Hangzhou, China, and Edward Said National Music Conservatory, Jerusalem/Ramallah. Curator, William Paterson Living Jazz Archives, containing archives of Clark Terry, Thad Jones and James Williams.



Timothy Newman, Jazz History, Ensemble, Thesis advisor
Education: Ph.D. composition, New York University; M.M. Jazz Studies, Manhattan School of Music; bachelors in Jazz from William Paterson. Regular member of Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra for 10 years, plays regularly with Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. His Amosaya CD Altered Ego features his compositions and arrangements, also featured on Jim Snidero's Advance CD/Book Jazz Conception for Bass Trombone. Recorded, appeared with Slide Hampton and Buddy Morrow, Luis "Perico" Ortiz and Joe Magnarelli, Mel Torme, Scott Robinson, Mike Holober, Jack McDuff; The Mario Bauza Afro-Cuban Orchestra, Bill Mobley Jazz Orchestra, They Might Be Giants. Compositions and arrangements have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, North Sea, Montreux Jazz Festivals, NYU's Loewe Theater, and Yaddo, artists colony where he is a fellow. Presented papers and articles at conferences of the College Music Society and International Association of Jazz Educators. Current research involves an investigation into the process of music composition.



Pete McGuinness, Jazz Arranging
Active professional New York City jazz trombonist/composer-arranger since 1987, has performed as trombonist with such groups as The Woody Herman Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Heath, and The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, and appears on numerous jazz CDs. He has led or co-led several of his own jazz groups, including The New York Trombone Conspiracy, and the Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra, his 16-piece big band which performs regularly in the NYC area with a debut CD “First Flight” (Summit Records), including McGuinness’s Grammy-nominated arrangement of the Charlie Chaplin classic song “Smile” and received two more Grammy nominations in 2014 for two arrangements on his big band CD "Strength in Numbers" (Summit). Awarded numerous commission grants, including awards from the NEA; music performed by Dave Liebman, Marvin Stamm, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and The Westchester Jazz Orchestra. As a vocalist, he is a past semi-finalist of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition for vocalists and in 2010, won 1st prize in Jazzmobile Vocal Competition. Member of the New Jersey City University jazz studies faculty since 1994, and in 2011, was appointed professor of jazz arranging at William Paterson University. His published compositions/arrangements are available through Otter Music Distributors and Kendor Music, Pete’s educational degrees include Bachelor of Music (University of Miami, 1986), and Master of Music (Manhattan School of Music, 1987).


Adjunct Jazz Studies Faculty


Johnathan Blake, Percussion, Small Ensemble
Johnathan Blake, one of the most accomplished drummers of his generation, has also proven himself a complete and endlessly versatile musician. Blake’s gift for composition and band leading reflects years of live and studio experience across the aesthetic spectrum. Heralded by NPR Music as “the ultimate modernist,” he has collaborated with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Tom Harrell, Hans Glawischnig, Avishai Cohen, Donny McCaslin, Linda May Han Oh, Jaleel Shaw, Chris Potter, Maria Schneider, Alex Sipiagin, Kris Davis and countless other distinctive voices. DownBeat once wrote, “It’s a testament to Blake’s abilities that he makes his presence felt in any context.” A frequent presence on Blue Note records over the past several years, Blake has contributed his strong, limber pulse and airy precision to multiple leader releases from Blue Note artists including Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Breathe (2021), All in My Mind (2018) and Evolution (2016) and Kenny Barron’s Concentric Circles (2018), the latter whose trio Blake has been a vital member for nearly 15 years.



Cecil Bridgewater, Arranging, Ensemble
Education: University of Illinois. Performed, toured and recorded with Horace Silver, co-led Bridgewater Brothers Quintet. Member, soloist with Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra from 1970-76. Performances with Max Roach from 1971 and into the 90s, Art Blakey, Randy Weston, Harold Vick, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson, Muhal Richard Abrams Orchestra, Frank Wess, Sam Rivers, Dizzy Gillespie, and recorded with Abdullah Ibrahim. Active as producer, arranger, composer for Muse record label, including sessions with Michael Carvin, Houston Person, Brother Jack McDuff. Ongoing involvement with Jazzmobile education efforts.



Bill Goodwin, Drums, Ensemble
Performances: member of Phil Woods Quintet since 1974; tours and performances as member of Gary Burton Quartet for three years; with Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Jim Hall, George Shearing, Bobby Hutcherson, singers June Christy, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and the Manhattan Transfer. Four solo recordings, also with Hal Galper, Tom Waits, Tom Harrell; performer/producer on all Phil Woods' recordings since 1980; producer of recordings by Tom Harrell, Dave Frishberg, Keith Jarrett.



Vincent Herring, Saxophone, Small Ensemble
Early studies at California State University, then member of U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point. First tours with Lionel Hampton's big band, worked with Nat Adderley, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, The Horace Silver Quintet, Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Larry Coryell, Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, The Mingus Big Band, Nancy Wilson, The Roy Hargrove Big Band, Arthur Taylor, Dr. Billy Taylor, Carla Bley, Phil Woods Sax Machine, with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center, as guest soloist with John Faddis and The Carnegie Hall Big Band. Has made 14 CDs as a leader, and on over 200 recordings as a sideman.



Geoffrey Keezer, Piano, Ensemble
Member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers at age 18, touring with Ray Brown, Joshua Redman, Diana Krall, Art Farmer, Benny Golson and Barbara Hendricks in his twenties. More recently toured with Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Sting, Joe Locke, Christian McBride; produced/arranged three Grammy-nominated recordings with vocalist Denise Donatelli. His 2009 album Áurea (ArtistShare) was nominated for a Best Latin Jazz Album Grammy. Compositions commissioned by the Mainly Mozart Festival, Art of Elán ensemble, Saint Joseph Ballet, Zeltsman Marimba Festival, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra and Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Film music includes What Happens in Vegas and Inhale, and on TV shows including The Young and the Restless (CBS), Parks and Recreation (NBC), House of Lies (Showtime), and Casual (Hulu Original).



Steve La Spina, Bass, Small Ensembles
Education: University of Illinois, DePaul University. Tours/recordings with Stan Getz, Toots Thielemans, Joe Williams, Benny Carter, Chet Baker, Pat Martino, Zoot Sims, Tommy Flanagan, Richie Bierach, Jim Hall, and Marian McPartland. Five solo recordings, six with Jim Hall; sideman on over 90 recordings with Pat Martino, Dick Katz, Marian McPartland, Benny Carter, Fred Hersch, Vic Juris, Joe Diorio, Andy LaVerne, and Larry Schneider. Composer of chamber music and jazz; guest composer with NYC Jazz Composers Collective.



Mike LeDonne, Piano, Organ, Ensemble
Arrived in New York in 1979, began working with Benny Goodman sextet and Ruby Braff, Stanley Turrentine, Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson, and the Art Farmer-Clifford Jordan Quintet. Joined the Milt Jackson quartet in 1988, became music director. Appears on over 100 records as a sideman and in 1988 recorded his first of sixteen CD’s as a leader, featuring Tom Harrell, Kenny Washington, Peter Bernstein, Bob Cranshaw, Ron Carter, and Joshua Redman. He released his first CD on Hammond organ with his Groover Quartet in 2003. He is one of the founders of the Jazz For Teens program at NJPAC in Newark, NJ.



Russell Malone, Guitar
One of the world’s leading jazz guitarists, born in Albany, Georgia, and had early touring with organist Jimmy Smith. His career has included tours and collaborations with Sonny Rollins, Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall including three Grammy-nominated albums, Roy Hargrove and Dianne Reeves. He has recorded with Kenny Barron, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Benny Green, and Mulgrew Miller among many others. He is a member of Ron Carter’s trio. He has a number of solo recordings, most recently including It’s All About the Melody and Time for the Dancers, and featuring David Wong, Montez Coleman, Johnathan Blake, Rick Germanson, and Willie Jones III.



Marcus McLaurine, Bass, Jazz Ensemble
Education: University of Nebraska, studies with Jack Kulawich. Performances: over a decade of touring with Clark Terry, also Kenny Burrell, Jon Hendricks, McCoy Tyner, Abbey Lincoln, Cleo Laine, Lou Donaldson, Abdulah Ibrahim and the Count Basie Orchestra. Recordings with Clark Terry, Kenny Burrell, Abbey Lincoln, Michael Cochrane, Grover Mitchell, John Hicks, Hank Jones, Vincent Herring, Bob Trowers, Jay Hoggard, Nancy Monroe, Spirit of Life Ensemble and an appearance in the motion piecture "Cotton Club" with the Cab Calloway Band.



Chico Mendoza, Latin Jazz Ensemble
Performances: Performances with Latin groups at Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall; with George Benson and Stanley Turrentine at Newark Symphony Hall; at colleges and clubs. Recordings: His fourth album, "El Sonida," received a Latin Grammy Nomination in 1979. Host of "Salsa Meets Jazz" Monday evenings at The Village Gate in New York City. WP faculty since 1980.



John Mosca, Trombone, Ensemble
Education: Juilliard School. Performances: co-leader of Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, member of Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Mel Lewis Orchestra since 1975; performances with Pierre Boulez, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams and Stan Getz, Buddy Rich, Jimmy Heath Big Band, concerts at the United Nations with the Barry Harris Sextet. Many recordings as a member of Thad Jones/Mel Lewis/Vanguard Orchestra, two CDs with trumpeter John McNeil.



Steve Myerson, Class Jazz Piano
In demand around the globe, Myerson’s projects include a nearly decade-long residence touring with legendary Philadelphia-soul band The Stylistics, a TV commercial featuring Aretha Franklin. Honoring the traditions of jazz piano giants, Steve Myerson and his Trio celebrate his coming LP release Ready or Not recorded live on stage at Birdland Jazz Club in New York. This second album release comes on the heels of his 2009 piano trio release In Your Absence. Myerson translates his world travels and lifelong studies into a poignant, lush feel-good vibe for fans of jazz and the mighty piano, his compositions an of-the-moment snapshot of today’s historically-grounded piano trio. Steve Myerson has been on the William Paterson University jazz faculty since Fall 2021, with a specialization in jazz piano.



Ed Neumeister, Arranging, Ensemble
Performed for 15 years with Duke Ellington Orchestra, 19 years with Mel Lewis Big Band, becoming the multi Grammy-nominated Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Also performed with Jerry Garcia, Gerry Mulligan, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, and with New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Ballet. Works extensively in Europe, including Netherlands’ Metropol Jazz Orchestra, Budapest Jazz Orchestra, was Professor of Jazz Trombone at the University of the Performing Arts, Graz Austria from 1999 - 2017. Active in film music, orchestrated for such films as Inception, Sherlock Holmes, Dark Knight and the 2012 Academy Awards.



Jeremy Pelt, Trumpet, Small Ensemble
has become one of the prominent young trumpeters in jazz. He forged an early bond with the Mingus Big Band, and has gone on to perform or record with Ravi Coltrane, Frank Foster, Jimmy Heath, Vincent Herring, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, Nancy Wilson, and the Skatalites. He is a frequent member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Roy Hargrove Big Band, and the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band featuring Louis Hayes. His own recordings have received acclaim, and he performs with his own group worldwide.



Rich Perry, Saxophone, Small Ensemble
Tenor saxophone soloist with Orchestras of Thad Jones-Mel Lewis and the Vanguard Orchestra since 1977. Featured soloist with Maria Schneider Orchestra since 1991, with John Fedchock New York Big Band. Has been a member of groups led by Harold Danko, Fred Hersch, George Mraz, Dave Stryker. Has recorded with Joe Henderson's Big Band in 1992, with Ron McClure, Paul Bley, and Lee Konitz, as well as a number of CDs under his own name on the Steeplechase label.



Dayna Stephens, Advanced Ear Training, Ensemble, Saxophone
Education: Thelonious Monk Institute, Berklee full scholarship. Second spot in 2017 DownBeat Critics Poll “Rising Star—Tenor Saxophone.” Brooklyn born and Bay-area raised, he has performed, toured with drummers Brian Blade, Al Foster, Idris Muhammad, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Billy Hart, Marcus Gilmore, Bill Stewart, Marvin “Boogaloo” Smith, Eric Harland, Matt Slocum, Johnathan Blake, Jaimeo Brown, Victor Lewis, Lewis Nash, Jorge Rossy, Jeff Ballard and Justin Brown; with pianists Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, Geoffrey Keezer, Taylor Eigsti, Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Barron, Theo Hill, Gerald Clayton and Aaron Parks; and with trumpeters Ambrose Akinusire, Terell Stafford, Tom Harrell and Roy Hargrove. Solo album projects include Gratitude on Contagious Music.

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