The Bands Department at the Denver School of the Arts is proud to be able to host many nationally and internationally known artists to come into the program to teach and share their incredible experiences.
Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player based in New York, has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player, he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford’s exceptionally expressive and well defined musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads.
Stafford first picked up the trumpet at age thirteen, initially studying classical music. While pursuing a music education degree at the University of Maryland, Stafford played with the school’s jazz band. In 1988, Stafford had the good fortune to meet and receive advice from Wynton Marsalis who suggested that he study with Dr. William Fielder at Rutgers University. After studying trumpet fundamentals with Dr. Fielder, Stafford was inspired to play all genres of music including jazz. It was during this time that he began to immerse himself in jazz; listening to everything he could get his hands on. Stafford cites one of his most profound musical influences as Clifford Brown’s rendition of Cherokee. Later, Marsalis gave Stafford the opportunities to perform in his group Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and teach at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Juilliard. Marsalis supports Stafford’s current role as Managing and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia and continues to offer his guidance and support. While studying at Rutgers, Stafford was invited to join Bobby Watson’s group, Horizon. The next five years were spent balancing his offstage education with the incredible knowledge and experience gained from performing alongside Watson, co-leader Victor Lewis and Shirley Scott. Scott invited Stafford to join her quintet and the house band on Bill Cosby’s show You Bet Your Life, where Scott was Musical Director, this gave Stafford the opportunity to play alongside Tim Warfield that led to their ongoing musical collaborations. Stafford credits these experiences to honing his skills as an effective arranger, composer and bandleader; all things that Bobby Watson himself learned from his time with the late Art Blakey while performing with the Jazz Messengers. Stafford’s time with Horizon led to his joining McCoy Tyner’s Latin All-Star Band that featured some of the best Latin jazz players, including trombonist Steve Turre, flutist Dave Valentin and percussionist Jerry Gonzalez.
Since the mid-1990’s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band.
Stafford has been an integral member in bands led by esteemed artists such as Cedar Walton, Sadao Watanabe, Herbie Mann, and Matt Wilson. Stafford has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Rosie O’Donnell Show, and You Bet your Life with Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby has been an incredible mentor for Stafford welcoming him into the house band on his show, encouraging Stafford to teach and was instrumental in his positions at Cheney University and Temple University, Cosby’s alma mater. Stafford can be heard along with Bobby Watson on the soundtrack for the feature film A Bronx Tale and in the documentary Treme: Untold Story of Black New Orleans. Stafford has performed as a guest artist with the Billy Taylor Trio on National Public Radio’s Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center.
Time to Let Go (Candid 1995) was Stafford’s debut album featuring Victor Lewis, Ed Simon, Steve Wilson, Tim Warfield, Victor See-Yuen, Steve Nelson and Michael Bowie. Centripetal Force (Candid 1997) was Stafford’s second release featuring Ron Blake, John Clark, Stefon Harris, Ed Howard, Victor Lewis, Russell Malone, Daniel Moreno, Stephen Scott and Tim Warfield. His third album was Fields of Gold (Nagel-Heyer 2000) featuring Bill Cunliffe, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Antonio Hart and Rodney Green. His fourth release was New Beginnings (MAXJAZZ 2003) featuring Mulgrew Miller, Derrick Hodge, Dana Hall, Steve Wilson, Dick Oatts, Harry Allen, and Jesse Davis. He followed this album with Taking Chances (MAXJAZZ 2007) featuring Bruce Barth, Tim Warfield, Dana Hall and Derrick Hodge. Stafford’s newest release This Side of Strayhorn (MAXJAZZ 2011), featuring Tim Warfield, Bruce Barth, Peter Washington and Dana Hall, has been hailed as “the first must have album of 2011” and “genius”.
Stafford can be heard performing on over 130 albums; a sampling is included here. Stafford with the Hamilton-Clayton Jazz Orchestra, performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY nominated From this Moment On (2006). John Clayton invited Stafford to perform with the Clayton Brothers Quintet, Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and to teach for the prestigious Vail Jazz Foundation. In celebration of Jimmy Heath’s 80th birthday, Stafford recorded with the Jimmy Heath Big Band for the album Turn Up the Heath (2006). As a member of drummer Matt Wilson’s group Arts and Crafts, Stafford is featured on the album Scenic Route (2007). Stafford performed on Alvin Queen and the Organic’s album I Ain’t Lookin’ at You (2006).
The patience he exhibits with his students… The provocative notes he chooses when he composes… The empathy he shows when he produces…. The scintillating sounds he coaxes from musicians when he conducts…
pale in comparison to his charisma when you just hear him swing! And swing he does. Grammy-winning bassist/composer/conductor, John Clayton’s talents are consistently requested by the movers and shakers in the jazz industry, such as Quincy Jones and Tommy Lipuma. Clayton says, “When composing or arranging for the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, I am a disciple of Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, Quincy Jones and Gil Evans, to name just a few.” Regarding his bowing techniques, he cites the radically different techniques of Slam Stewart, Major Holley and Paul Chambers as influences. There is no doubt, however, that John has created a niche for himself wherein he stands alone.
As a testament to his immense talent and broad ranging appeal, John Clayton served as the Artistic Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1999 through 2001. In addition, he is Artistic Director for the Centrum Jazz Workshop in Port Townsend, Washington and was also appointed Artistic Director for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in 2006. John has written and arranged music for Diana Krall, DeeDee Bridgewater (including her Grammy award winning CD “Dear Ella”), Natalie Cole, Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Dr. John, Gladys Knight, Regina Carter, Queen Latifah and many others. He has been commissioned by many ensembles, including the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the American Jazz Philharmonic, The Iceland Symphony, The Metropole Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Big Band, The Richmond Symphony, the WDR Orchestra, and the Amsterdam Philharmonic. On the other hand, John was awarded a platinum record for his stirring arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Whitney Houston during the Super Bowl in 1990. He has won numerous awards such as the Golden Feather Award given to him by the legendary Leonard Feather and the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s Composer/Arranger award.
John has served as the musical director of several jazz festivals including the Sarasota Jazz Festival and the Santa Fe Jazz Party. As Artistic Director of the Vail Jazz Workshop, he participates in choosing talented students from across the nation in an intensive week of learning jazz. Last year, he was also appointed as Artistic Director for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. Clayton’s serious study of the double bass began at age 16 when he studied with famed bassist, Ray Brown. At age 19, John was the bassist for Henry Mancini’s television series “The Mancini Generation”. Later he completed his studies at Indiana University in 1975, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Double Bass. Touring with Monty Alexander and the Count Basie Orchestra followed. He held the principal bass position in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for more than five years.
The Grammy-nominated Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is co-led by John, his brother, saxophonist, Jeff Clayton, and drummer, Jeff Hamilton. Also, John co-leads with Jeff, the Clayton Brothers Quintet, who have been nominated for two Grammy awards.
In an effort to sum up John Clayton’s unique expertise, “the man just does it all”. He is equally comfortable in jazz and classical music, and hits the mark, whether it is as composer, arranger, conductor, or teacher, in addition to his magnificence when he plays his bass.
Javon Jackson came into international prominence as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. As a member of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Javon toured and made many recordings with the legendary drummer. In addition to Blakey, Jackson has toured and recorded with Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Donald Byrd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Richard Davis, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller and Stanley Turrentine.
As a recording artist, Jackson has appeared on over 125 recordings. Additionally, he has developed a formidable career as a leader, recording and touring throughout the world. Javon’s current musical group, The Javon Jackson Band, incorporates many styles including jazz, funk,R&B and rock.
His latest recording, Once Upon a Melody, finds Javon returning to acoustic jazz after a series of popular jazz-funk recordings. In addition to two originals, Javon includes tunes by the legendary Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter. In addition, Jackson covers music from the songbook of artist Corinne Bailey Rae. Joining him on Once Upon a Melody are Eric Reed on piano, Corcoran Holt on bass and drummer Billy Drummond.
Allison Miller is a New York City-based drummer, singer, composer. She has recorded three albums: 5 AM Stroll, Boom Tic Boom and No Morphine, No Lilies, as well as working as a session musician. Her work with bands has included forming the band “emma,” with Erin McKeown, and her own band, Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom
Miller has performed with songwriting vocalists Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, and Erin McKeown, and toured with avant-garde saxophonist Marty Ehrlich and organist Doctor Lonnie Smith and folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile.
Allison Miller is also a collaborative member of Agrazing Maze, composed of Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Enrique Haneine (piano), Carlo DeRosa (bass) and Miller on drums. Their album, At the End of the Day, was released on Foxhaven Records in November 2005 and was voted a “Top 10 Jazz Record of 2005” in All About Jazz NY.
Denver native, Katie Glassman, began playing and fell in love with the fiddle at age nine. Inspired in the world of Texas Oldtime music, she grew up in the culture of learning fiddle by ear and traveling to countless fiddle competitions throughout Colorado and the Western states.
In 1998, she was the National Junior Fiddle Champion. In 2000, she was the National Young Adult Fiddle Champion. In 2002, she placed 5th place in the National Grand Champion Division . In 2001 and 2010, she was a certified judge for the National oldtime fiddle competition. Katie is the 2011 Colorado State Fiddle Champion.
But, aside from contests, Katie traveled to study with legendary fiddle players such as Wes Wesmoreland, Jimmie Don Bates, Carl Hopkins, Tonya Hopkins, Paul Anastasio and many other of her heroes. To be a part of an aural tradition so intricate, diverse and treasured, built a lifetime connection between Katie and her fiddle.
Katie graduated high school from the Denver School of the Arts and continued on to University of Colorado at Denver. There she joined the Claimjumpers and apprenticed at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee with Dixieland bands: Night Blooming Jazzmen, Chicago Six, Queen City Jazz Band and Hot Club of San Fransisco.
Katie then studied jazz and classical (University of Colorado Boulder), under jazz pianist Chip Stephens and violinist Jennifer John. There she played in the top jazz combo and was awarded Outstanding performer award at Abilene Texas Jazz festival and 1st runner up for the IAJE International Sisters of jazz group. In 2004, she graduated (as the 1st violinist to graduate University of Colorado) with a Certificate in Jazz Studies and a Bachelor’s in Performance.
Over this time period, Katie performed with the Sidewinders, Gypsy Swing Revue, Lannie Garret, on E-town with Hazel Miller and Dave Alvins and several other groups.
While in college, Katie discovered the playing of French jazz violinist Didier Lockwood (the protégé of Stephane Grappelli). In 2006, she traveled to France to study for one year in Dammarie-Les-Lys at Centre Musique Didier Lockwwod. The jazz school hosted 60 students per year. Katie was the 2nd American to study there. In 2007 she was awarded a Certificate avec Mention Bien from C.M.D.L.
In 2007, Katie returned to the music scene in Denver. She has played with the Gypsy jazz group Impromptu, Gypsy Swing Revue, Charlie Provenza, Randall McKennan, The Quiet American (Aaron Keim), Sean McGowan, Andy Stein, Liz Masterson, Mike Music Band, Grant Gordy, Swing Chicks, David Williams, Justin Donovan, Pickin’ on the Porch, Kernel Mustard, Bill Nershe, Boulder Acoustic Society, Katie Glassman Trio and the Bloomers.
Melissa Aldana began playing saxophone at the tender age of 6. After watching pupils come in and out of her home in Santiago, Chile to take lessons from her father, Marcos Aldana – a renowned jazz saxophonist himself – the young Melissa would pester him to teach her as well. Her father began teaching her by showing her how to play two notes. From that moment, she was hooked and was finally given her first saxophone, an alto, and her father began teaching her how to play.
Marcos Aldana’s teaching technique included a great deal of transcription. “When I first started learning, we were using cassettes to transcribe,” says Melissa. “My dad would choose a song that he really liked, so the first person I learned from was Charlie Parker. We would take one phrase, and listen. Then, I would play it really slow, over and over, hundreds of times, until it sounded exactly like him. I think it’s one of the best ways to teach a little kid because I learned everything by listening to the masters.”
Melissa’s adolescence was filled with learning solos of many of the jazz greats including her father’s favorites; Parker, Cannonball Adderley, and Michael Brecker. But, as she grew up, she began branching out and discovering artists on her own. When she first heard Sonny Rollins, she was so influenced by him, that she asked her father to change from alto to tenor sax. Melissa’s grandfather, Enrique Aldana, was also a sax virtuoso, and taught Marcos how to play. Upon hearing her desire to switch, Marcos gave Melissa her grandfather’s Selmer Mark VI, which she still plays and records with today.
By her early teens, Melissa was frequenting the Santiago jazz clubs, and by 16, she was headlining sets at the Club de Jazz de Santiago, which, at the time, was the main hub of the Chilean jazz community. Around the same time, in 2005, Melissa caught wind that Panamanian jazz pianist Danilo Pérez was coming to Chile to perform with the Wayne Shorter Quartet, and was determined to meet him. Danilo’s wife was one of Marcos’ former students and Danilo was part of the faculty at Berklee College of Music. Melissa went down to sound check, introduced herself and, subsequently, Danilo invited her to play at the Panama Jazz Festival. Afterwards, Danilo was instrumental in bringing Melissa to the U.S. for the first time and helped to arrange auditions for her at both Berklee and the New England Conservatory.
Melissa was accepted at both schools and decided to attend Berklee. “I didn’t go to Berklee to learn how to play saxophone, because my father has already taught me how,” comments Aldana. “I went to grow as a musician, be around young musicians, and learn from the veterans.” In school, she did just that by playing with fellow students and studying under the likes of Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Frank Tiberi, Greg Osby, Hal Crook, Dave Santoro, Bill Pierce, Dino Govoni, and Ralph Peterson. She was also exposed to a great deal of recorded jazz music and cites Mark Turner and Don Byas as having a lasting influence on her playing style.
Immediately after graduating from Berklee, Melissa moved to New York. One of the first people she contacted was the legendary jazz saxophonist George Coleman. While still in Boston, Melissa asked her friend Emilio Lyons, the famous saxophone repairman, to call up George and introduce them. George had Melissa play for him over the phone. He liked it so much, he invited Melissa to come to his house and gave her a few saxophone lessons. Over the years, they became very close as George continued to mentor Melissa, introduce her to a number of fellow musicians, and invite her to sit in on his concerts.