Conrad Herwig (RSJI Artistic Director, Trombone) – on sabbatical is one of the leading trombonists on today’s Jazz scene, having begun in 1980 with the Clark Terry Big Band and later performed with Slide Hampton’s World of Trombones, Mario Bauza’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Mel Lewis, Bob Mintzer, the Mingus Big Band, Eddie Palmieri, Red Garland, Dave Liebman, Max Roach, Danilo Perez, and Brian Lynch. He has recorded 26 albums as a leader and voted #1 Jazz Trombone (TDWR) in the Downbeat International Jazz Critic’s Poll. The Jazz Journalists Association also nominated Herwig for “Trombonist of the Year” in 2015.
Pianist, composer, arranger, and educator Marc Stasio (RSJI Director, Piano) actively produces scores for hire, serves as jazz faculty, and has performed abroad for over 35 years. His work is heard on recordings and performances by today’s top artists in jazz and contemporary music, including Michel Camilo, Conrad Herwig, Hiromi Uehara, Igor Butman, Robby Ameen, Orrin Evans, Gerry Carboy (David Sancious), Ralph Bowen, and Kenny Davis. Marc earned a Bachelors degree in Arranging from Berklee College of Music and a Masters in Jazz Studies from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts. He’s had the privilege to study scoring and orchestration with renowned industry writer Bob Freeman and legendary composer and trumpeter, Herb Pomeroy. As Professor and Managing Director of jazz studies at Rutgers Mason Gross he specializes in teaching composition and arranging based on “the Hidden Score,” with a dedicated blog by that title. Marc’s latest projects include large ensemble arrangements for pianist Orrin Evans, ensemble and piano charts of Horace Silver’s “Gods of the Yoruba” for pianist Michel Camilo featured at the 25th Anniversary Heineken Jazz Festival, custom scores for Conrad Herwig’s latest 2016 release, “Reflections” on the Criss Cross label, and work for HBO’s production of “Sesame Street”. He is also currently working on a commission by Salsa legend Eddie Palmieri to score many of his original compositions for full orchestra. Visit http://marcstasio.com.
Trombonist, composer, arranger, and educator Dave Miller (RSJI Associate Director, Trombone) was born in Waukegan, Illinois. In Miller’s youth, his father would play records of Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Louis Armstrong, and Oscar Peterson, which the family would enjoy together. At age 10 Miller began playing the trombone and was awarded a scholarship to attend the Interlochen Arts Academy. He continued his studies at the University of North Texas where he studied with the legendary Don Jacoby. He left college to go on the road with the Artie Shaw’s Band.
In 1991 Miller went to NYC to rehearse with the Temptations for a tour of South Africa at the invitation of Nelson Mandela. Miller stayed in New York and began working in the Latin music scene, performing and recording with Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, La India, Johnny Pacheco, and many others.
In 1999 Miller joined the Harry Connick, Jr. Orchestra, with whom he recorded and toured internationally. Miller has also performed and recorded with Clark Terry, Eddie Palmieri, Les Paul, Lionel Hampton, Frank Foster, Al Grey, Bobby Sanabria, Junior Cook, Chico Hamilton, and many others. He has studied with Curtis Fuller, Slide Hampton, Conrad Herwig, and Stanley Cowell. He currently teaches beginning band in Randolph, NJ, directs the Rutgers Youth Jazz Ensemble at the Mason Gross Extension Division, and freelances in New York City.
Ralph Bowen (Saxophone) began playing saxophone in the clubs and dance halls in and around Toronto. After studying at Indiana University, he moved to New York in 1986 to play with Michael Phillip Mossman’s group, Out of the Blue, and finished his college education at Rutgers University.
Bowen has performed alongside Orrin Evans, Michel Camilo, Horace Silver, Renee Rosnes, Kenny Garrett, Steve Wilson, Kenny Davis, Mossman, Ralph Peterson Jr., Anthony Branker, and Jared Gold. His discography includes more than 70 titles. His seven solo CDs – Movin’ On, A Morning View, Soul Proprietor, Keep the Change, Five, Dedicated, Due Reverence, and Power Play – feature a wide variety of musicians, including trumpeters John Swana and RyanKisor; pianists Jim Beard and Orrin Evans; organist Sam Yahel; guitarists Peter Bernstien, Jon Herington, and Adam Rogers; bassists John Patitucci, Anthony Jackson, Charles Fambrough, Reuben Rogers, and Kenny Davis; and drummers Ben Perowski, Bill Stewart, Brian Blade, Antonio Sanchez, Gregory Hutchinson, Donald Edwards, and Dana Hall.
Bowen received an AD from Indiana University and his BM and MM from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He has been on the Rutgers jazz faculty since 1990, where he teaches jazz theory, improvisation, and saxophone.
Bill O’Connell (Piano) is a native New Yorker who studied classical composition at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Early in his career, he played and composed in various salsa and jazz settings that set the tone for his musical style. In 1977, he joined salsa musician Mongo Santamaria, writing and performing with him for more than two years. Following that he worked with Chet Baker and Sonny Rollins. He toured with Rollins in the United States and Europe.
O’Connell has his original compositions on CDs by Santamaria, Emily Remler, Charles Fambrough, and on many recordings made by flutist Dave Valentin. He has also written for television including a documentary about Latin jazz artist Tito Puente.
On four separate occasions, O’Connell was the recipient of the “Jazz Writer of the Year” award from SESAC, the performing rights organization. O’Connell is featured as a pianist and arranger on trombonist Conrad Herwig’s, “The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock”, with his trio “Triple Play’”, his Quintet, and as jazz piano faculty at Rutgers Mason Gross.
A native of Jersey City, NJ, Victor Juris (Guitar) 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.
Juris performs in the US and Europe, and his quartet includes saxophonist Dick Oatts. Juris’s band has recorded albums on Steeple Chase: Night Tripper, Pastels (1997), Moonscape (1998), and Remembering Eric Dolphy (2000). His CD Songbook hit top 10 picks in 2000. Juris has also recorded on Double Time Records’s Music of Alec Wilder. Juris’s 2004 release of Blue Horizon listed him as top picks for the year 2004.
Juris teaches at Rutgers University and Lehigh University and has conducted clinics throughout the United States and Europe.
Kenny Davis’ (Bass) career began with listening to R&B artists such as Earth Wind & Fire, Brothers Johnson, and The Temptations. Davis taught himself the guitar and then went on to study music theory with David Holder Sr. Davis earned a BA in music education from Northeastern Illinois University.
Davis has toured with jazz artists such as Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, and Art Farmer. Davis was the bassist of The Tonight Show Band from September 1999 through March 2002. In May 2006, he received an MM from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Davis was the bass teacher at the University of Connecticut from 2003 to 2009. In 2009, Davis released his first CD as a leader, Kenny Davis, on Daken Records.
Born into a family of musicians in Omaha, Nebraska, Victor Lewis (Drums) began his musical studies taking classical lessons in cello and piano, before moving on to the drums. He began playing professional local gigs at age 10, and went on to study music at the University of Nebraska.
In 1974, Lewis moved to New York City, where he proceeded to perform with many top jazz artists, including Woody Shaw, Carla Bley, David Sanborn, and Dexter Gordon. He was a member of the Stan Getz Quartet from 1980 to 1991 along with Kenny Barron (piano) and Rufus Reid (bass). By the late 1980s, he had built himself a busy career as a freelancer, touring and recording with artists like Art Farmer, J.J. Johnson, Mike Stern, John Stubblefield, Grover Washington Jr., Gary Bartz, Bobby Hutcherson, and Bobby Watson.
Aside from performing, Lewis also works as a composer and educator. He features several of his compositions on his own albums, Family Portrait, Eeeyyess!, Know It Today, Know It Tomorrow, and Three Way Conversations. In 2003, Victor joined the jazz faculty at Rutgers University, where he teaches drums and coaches chamber jazz groups.
Nathan Eklund leads an active schedule as a professional trumpeter and jazz educator. He has earned two Jazz Performance degrees, his Bachelor’s from William Paterson University and his Master’s from New Jersey City University. Nathan has released five albums as a leader, and has recorded as a sideman with numerous artists including Phil Woods, Dafnis Prieto, Roseanna Vitro, Richie Cole, Chuck Loeb and Spyro Gyra. He is equally busy in the NYC big band scene, having performed with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Mingus Big Band, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Phil Woods Festival Orchestra, Jimmy Heath Big Band, Slide Hampton Big Band, Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Arturo O’Farrill’s Latin Jazz Orchestra and the Oliver Lake Big Band, among others. As an educator, Nathan is an adjunct professor at New Jersey City University (Jersey City), Delbarton School (Morristown) and Newark Academy (Livingston). He is also the Big Band Coordinator at Jazz House Kids (Montclair). Nathan regularly presents clinics nationwide, adjudicates jazz festivals, and maintains his own private trumpet teaching studio.
Ed Neumeister – Bio soon to come!
Lonnie Plaxico – Bio soon to come!
Luke Bakanas is a rising sophomore at Mason Gross School of the Art, majoring is both Jazz Trumpet Performance and Music Education. A native of Medford, New Jersey, he has been playing trumpet for over ten years. Luke is currently a student of Joe Magnarelli, Joe Mosello, and Ken DeCarlo.