Jazz House Kids has tremendous respect for the many faculty members who comprise our core staff. They are all accomplished musicians in their own right who have also dedicated a significant part of their professional life to teaching and mentoring the next generation. Meet the faculty who lead ensembles, classes and big bands at Jazz House Kids.
Lance Bryant, Saxophone
Saxophonist LANCE BRYANT is known in the jazz community as a skillful and thoughtful saxophonist and arranger. Lance has been touring and recording with some of the finest musicians of the New York/New Jersey area for over 25 years. He has traveled extensively with Phyllis Hyman, Jon Hendricks, Pete “LaRocca” Sims, Wallace Roney, Abdulah Ibrahim, Bootsy Collins, and James Williams, and served as principal arranger and musical director for the Lionel Hampton Orchestra throughout the 1990s. His released recordings include “Psalm” and the spiritually themed “Count It All Joy.” Lance has performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for the Broadway production, After Midnight, and has toured with the Count Basie Orchestra. Currently, Lance serves once again as musical director for the newly reformed Lionel Hampton Big Band featuring Jason Marsalis. For more information, see LanceBryant.com.
Anton Denner, Woodwinds
Alto saxophonist and flutist ANTON DENNER has toured, recorded or performed with Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Rita Moreno and with jazz instrumentalists Al Foster, Bill Stewart, Terrell Stafford, Rufus Reid, Dave Stryker, Harvie S, and countless others. Anton has been a featured soloist at jazz festivals in Istanbul, La Villette (Paris) Napa Valley, Cape May as well as the Eric Dolphy festival at Montclair State University. As an educator he has served on the faculties of the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Temple University, and Seton Hall University. Currently Anton’s flute and saxophone can be heard on the soundtrack of the Emmy award-winning PBS animated children’s show “Peg + Cat”. A native New Yorker, he now resides happily in N.J. with his wife, pianist/composer Nicki Denner.
Nicki Denner, Piano
Pianist/composer NICKI DENNER has performed with Sheila E., Savion Glover, Doc Severinsen, as well other jazz and Latin artists in the United States, Asia and Europe. She has released three CDs under her own name. Her trio recording, Moliendo Café, was named one of the Top Ten Picks of 2006 in Latin Beat Magazine. El Médico de Coquí featuring Julian Llanos (former singer with Latin music legend Arsenio Rodriguez) spent six months in Latin Beat magazine’s Top 20 Hit Parade. Her debut solo piano recording, Daydream was released in early 2014 to critical acclaim. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theatre and the United Nations. As a composer, she has written music for award-winning films as well as the New Jersey Tap Ensemble where she had served as the Assistant Musical Director for the past 15 years. She is currently the Musical Director for the highly acclaimed group Cocomama whose debut CD Quiero was included in the 2016 Grammy pre-nominations for Best Tropical Latin album. Along with composing and performing, Nicki is a devoted educator. As well as having a private teaching studio, she has served on the piano faculty of the Stanford University Summer Jazz Workshop, the Montclair State University Jazz Prep Summer Program, the New York City Tap Festival, the New Jersey Tap Festival and is also a contributor to Keyboard Magazine. For more info, visit www.nickidenner.com.
Josh Evans, Trumpet
Hartford-born JOSH EVANS was drawn to the trumpet after hearing a Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie recording at the age of 10. He studied with Raymond “Dr. Rackle” Williams and soon began performing regularly with Dr. Rackle’s Sound Griot Brass Band. At age 14, Josh was mentored by Jackie McLean, blazing a path for performances with the celebrated alto saxophonist, composer and educator at world-renowned jazz venues. In 2005, Josh began a two and a half year stint performing with the Winard Harper Sextet. In 2011, he released his debut album, “Portrait”. This album highlights Josh’s influential relationships with Rashied Ali, Jackie McLean, Raymond Williams, Alan Palmer and Ralph Peterson.
Mike Lee, Saxophone
As a saxophonist, MIKE LEE has been a part of the New York jazz scene for more than 30 years. He has played with some of the great luminaries of the music and currently performs regularly with Oliver Lake, Wallace Roney, Josh Evans Big Band, Dave Stryker and Loston Harris. Mike is Adjunct Professor of Jazz Saxophone at Montclair State University and maintains a strong private teaching practice.
Amy London, Voice
AMY LONDON is a recording artist on the Motema label, with 3 CD’s that have all garnered wide critical acclaim and international airplay. ‘When I Look In Your Eyes’ and ‘Let’s Fly’ showcase Ms. London as a solo jazz singer, and ‘The Royal Bopsters Project’ represents her deep and rich history with vocal jazz harmony. Released in September 2015, receiving rave reviews from critics across the board, it has stayed in the Top 30 of the jazz radio charts for 14 weeks, earned 4 and a half stars from Downbeat, and was included in the ‘Best CD’s of 2015’ lists of Downbeat, JazzTimes, and All About Jazz. In addition to Ms. London’s role as the quartet soprano on this recording, she was the original quartet soprano in Cy Coleman’s Broadway hit, the 6-time Tony winning and GRAMMY nominated “City of Angels.” She also recorded as Alto II with the New York Voices on “Ancient Tower.” Ms. London has been adjunct vocal faculty at the New School Jazz BFA program since 1992, and is one of the original architects of the highly successful vocal jazz program there.
Virginia Mayhew, Saxophone
Saxophonist, composer, arranger, and bandleader VIRGINIA MAYHEW has been an active participant in the New York jazz scene since 1987, and has led her own groups for over 25 years. She currently leads several quartets, a quintet, and a septet. In the course of her career, Virginia has worked with renowned artists from Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, Cab Calloway, Frank Zappa, James Brown, Norman Simmons, Al Grey, Junior Mance, Joe Williams, Chico O’Farrill, Marlena Shaw, to Toshiko Akiyoshi, Kenny Barron, Leon Parker, Ingrid Jensen, Claudio Roditi, Nnenna Freelon, and many others. Virginia has been a guest on Marian McPartland’s ‘Piano Jazzʼ, the featured artist on NPR’s ‘All Things Consideredʼ, and has appeared twice on ‘Jazz Set’ with Dee Dee Bridgewater. She was selected by Downbeat magazine as a ‘Rising Star’ on soprano saxophone, and has been the subject of several feature articles in Downbeat, Jazztimes and Jazziz magazines. Her latest recording, Mary Lou Williams – The Next 100 Years, was selected by Downbeat as one of the Best New Releases of 2012 and by Rhapsody as one of the ten best new CDs of 2012.
Andy McKee, Bass
ANDY MCKEE’s unique sound and hard-swinging approach to the upright bass evolved intuitively from his formative years on Philadelphia’s jazz scene, where he worked with Hank Mobley, Johnny Hartman, Slide Hampton and Philly Joe Jones. Moving to New York City in 1980, his musical pursuits flourished through extended tenures with Elvin Jones, Chet Baker, Michel Petrucciani, the Mingus Dynasty and the Mingus Big Band, for which he served as musical director in the late 1990s. Accomplished as a composer and bandleader, Andy has released the critically acclaimed recordings Sound Roots and One World. He is a faculty member at New School University in New York City and has been a guest lecturer at conservatories and clinics around the world. Inspired by his ongoing educational efforts, Andy has published the method book for bassists, “Jazz Bass On Top,” and, more recently, “101 Tips For Upright Bass,” both with the Hal Leonard Publishing Company.
Ed Palermo, Alto Sax
ED PALERMO is not just a dynamic saxophonist, he is also a prolific arranger, composer, educator and, since 1980, leader of Ed Palermo’s Big Band. Ed has toured and recorded with such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. He has written and arranged for “The Tonight Show,” Maurice Hines and Eddie Fisher. He also arranged the music for the 2006 James Brown “Soul on Top” concert at the Hollywood Bowl featuring Louie Bellson and led by Christian McBride. Ed was recently commissioned by Jazz House Kids to arrange a medley/mash-up of Wayne Shorter tunes that was performed by the Jazz House Big Band as part of its collaboration with the New Jersey Ballet.
Oscar Perez, Piano
OSCAR PEREZ, one of New York’s most sought after pianists, attended jazz performance programs at the University of North Florida and the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with Danilo Perez. Oscar completed his studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in New York and received his master’s degree under the guidance of Sir Roland Hanna. He recently received a highly coveted Chamber Music America award for his compositional skills and placed second in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition.
Dylan Pramuk, Voice
DYLAN PRAMUK has had a lifelong association with the highest levels of choral work. He grew up singing in Ragazzi, the extremely demanding boys’ choir in San Francisco, and held down the Bass II chair in the New School University Vocal Jazz Ensemble in the mid 2000s. After graduating in 2009, he continued to work in the group, directed by Amy London. Mr. Pramuk contributed many of the arrangements for ‘The Royal Bopsters Project’ on which he sings the role of quartet bass, Darmon Meader sings tenor, Holli Ross sings alto and Amy London sings soprano. The project features the quartet, who have been compared to the Manhattan Transfer, singing original vocal jazz arrangements and compositions with their bop heroes: Mark Murphy, Annie Ross, Jon Hendricks, Sheila Jordan and Bob Dorough.
Radam Schwartz, Organ & Piano
Organist and Pianist RADAM SCHWARTZ has built his reputation over the last 35 years playing with such great musicians as Arthur and Red Prysock, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Al Hibbler, Irene Reid, Jimmy Ford, Cecil Brooks III, Frank Lacy, Jimmy Ponder and David Fathead Newman. Radam has released 6 albums as a leader and 2 as a co-leader, garnering nationwide radio airplay, as well as two composer awards from SESAC (the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers). His CD “Organized” on Muse Records is listed in the Hammond Organ Bible as an all time essential organ recording. In addition, he has either played organ and piano, or arranged and composed on more than 40 other CDs. He has also been in the house bands for some of Newark’s most renowned clubs, such as the Peppermint Lounge and Skippers, and has led the longest running jam session in New Jersey at Crossroads for the last 18 years. Radam has committed over 30 years to jazz education, serving as the musical director of the Jazz Institute of New Jersey for almost 20 years, and now teaching at Jazz House Kids. In 2012, he directed the Jazz House Kids ensemble that won first place at the Charles Mingus competition. He also directs the Mosaic Jazz Ensemble at Rutgers University in Newark, and teaches at the Jazz Academy in Red Bank and at Middlesex County Arts High School.
Julius Tolentino, Alto Sax
Director and saxophonist JULIUS TOLENTINO has been part of the New York jazz scene for 20 years. He has played with small groups and big bands including the Louis Hayes Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band, Eric Reed Sextet, Jeremy Pelt Quintet, Natalie Cole, Illinois Jacquet Big Band, Christian McBride Big Band, Count Basie Orchestra and Duke Ellington Orchestra. His accomplishments as an educator have included several trips to nationally acclaimed festivals. His Newark Academy students competed at the Essentially Ellington Finals in 2012, won first place in the Charles Mingus Competition’s High School Band category in 2014, and took first place honors for five straight years at the NJAJE State Finals from 2010 through 2014. As director of the Jazz House Big Band, his students won second place at Essentially Ellington in 2013 and 2014, and first place in the Mingus Competition’s Conglomerate Big Band category in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Julius received the Illinois Jacquet Jazz Educator of the Year award in 2013 from the Illinois Jacquet Foundation.
Camille Thurman, Saxophone
A native of Queens, New York, CAMILLE THURMAN is a saxophonist, vocalist, composer and educator. She holds a degree in Geological & Environmental studies from Binghamton University. Camille was mentored by saxophonists George Coleman, Antoine Roney, Bruce Williams, Abraham Burton and Bill Saxton, and has gone on to perform and/or record with notables such as Benny Golson, George Coleman, Dianne Reeves, Terri Lyne Carrington, Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Patti LaBelle, Lalah Hathaway, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys and many others. She leads her own quartet, which has performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, the Tomsk International Jazz Festival, and many other prominent jazz venues and festivals around the world. Camille is a 2015 Martin E. Segal –Lincoln Center Award recipient for outstanding young artists and was a runner up in the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition. She was also a two-time award recipient of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award, and her compositions were featured in the ASCAP/Kennedy Center “Songwriters: The Next Generation” showcase.
Dion Tucker, Trombone
DION TUCKER grew up in Miami, Florida and moved to New York in 1998. Since arriving in New York, he has had the opportunity to perform many different styles of music ranging from jazz to rock. He has shared the stage with jazz greats including Ray Charles, the Count Basie Band, Clark Terry’s Big Band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin at the Apollo in NYC, Jon Hendricks, the Lionel Hampton Band, Frank Foster and his Loud Minority Big Band, and the Mos Def Big Band at Carnegie Hall. Dion played the 2001 summer tour with rock band Matchbox 20 led by Rob Thomas. He is currently a member of the Harry Connick, Jr. Band and was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra for more than 12 years.
Bruce Williams, Alto Sax
BRUCE WILLIAMS has four recordings as a leader under his belt and more than 30 as a sideman. He’s toured the world in both roles, performing with the World Saxophone Quartet, Jimmy Scott, Frank Foster, Russell Gunn, Cecil Brooks III, Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Ben Riley and Roy Hargrove. Bruce is Adjunct Professor of Jazz Saxophone at Bard College and has taught at Princeton University, the New School and NJPAC. He currently serves as an ensemble coach for The Juilliard School’s jazz department.