Check out our Pro’s Instructors on Guitar, Drums and Bass…
CHRIS AMELAR – Guitar, Electric Bass, Ukulele
B.M. Jazz Studies, Wm Paterson University – Magna Cum Laude with Honors. Studied with Rufus Reid, Vic Juris, Joe Lovano, Dave Samuels, Harold Mabern, Art Farmer, Percy Heath. In addition to teaching private guitar and electric bass lessons, conducted group classes and clinics around the country for The National Guitar Workshop, and founded ‘Jamming for Juniors’ pre-school music program used at schools throughout NJ. Performed for President Clinton, and with guitarist Andy Timmons (G3, Olivia Newton-John), singer/guitarist Glen Burtnik (Styx), Christian music legend Phil Keaggy, and various artists at BB Kings, The Bitter End, The Blue Note and The Knitting Factory in NYC, as well as at NJPAC, the JVC Jazz Festival, and Z100’s Zootopia Concert at the Izod Arena. Recorded all guitars on the CD Listen, and founded and recorded four CDs with the group 3D Ritmo de Vida, the latest of which was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award. Author of a long list of instructional books and videos, including Mastering Contemporary Rock (Alfred Pub), The Guitar FX Cookbook (Hal Leonard Pub), and Rock Guitar Jammin’ (Hal Leonard Pub). Contributing author of numerous articles, interviews and transcriptions for Guitar World Magazine and Guitar School Magazine.
RUSS DEFILIPPIS – Guitar, Electric Bass
B.M, Berklee College of Music. Studied guitar with William Leavitt, Mark Friench, Mick Goodrick, Charles Banacos, Dennis Sandole, George Benson, and voice with Margaretta Wolfe. Has taught acoustic and electric guitar, harmony and improvisation to children, teens and adults throughout the tri-state area, and at the college level at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Rockland Community College in New York, and Bergen Community College in New Jersey. Performs professionally in a wide range of musical styles, including jazz, blues, soul, R&B, rock, funk, classical, country, acoustic folk and roots music. Worked as a musician, musical director and conductor with such well-known jazz, rock and pop groups and artists as George Benson, Chuck Berry, The Drifters, Bo Diddly, Lil Anthony, James Brown, Bobby Rydell, Lou Christie, Martha Reeves and numerous other acts. Co-founded a jazz trio with fellow guitarist John Tropea in 2002; formed the group ‘rd3’ in 2003, producing the CD Calculations. His most recent CD, The Sorcerer’s Accomplice, on EverJazz Records was praised by George Benson as “artistry and taste combined.”
SERGIO GARCIA-MARRUZ – Guitar, Electric Bass
M.F.A. in Music, National School of Arst, Havana, Cuba. Baccalaureate, Pre-Universitario del Vedado, Saï– Delgado. Participated in Don Sebesky’s “Film Scoring Workshop,” the “Professional Composer’s Workshop,” and completed the “Paths’ Electronic Music Seminars.” Studied classical guitar with Isaac Nicola, Leo Brouwer and Martha Cuervo. Former lecturer-demonstrator for the Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Science, composer/sound designer for Marymount Manhattan College, Music Instructor for Fieldston Summer Performing Arts Institute. Taught workshops in composition using computers, synthesizers, and MIDI technology. Began professional career as a performing guitarist of classical and popular music, then became in-house arranger for the Musicians’ National Union in Cuba. Currently composer-arranger for TV Radio commercials (SGM Music), as well as guitarist performing throughout the tri-state area.
STEVE JOHNS – Drums, Percussion
New England Conservatory of Music. Studied classical percussion with Fred Buda and Vic Firth at the New England Conservatory, with jazz drummer and percussionist Alan Dawson, and with master drummer Bob Gullotti. Previously taught at the Vermont Jazz Center, the Jazz In July Program at the University of Massachusetts, the Thelonius Monk Institute in Aspen Colorado and Williams College in Massachusetts. Currently an Associate Professor at Montclair State University. Well-versed in any musical style, has worked in every conceivable setting from performing in such well-known big bands as the Count Basie Orchestra and accompanying singers like Jessye Norman, Helen Merrill, Diane Schuur, and Dakota Staton, to playing in more experimental settings such as the Thomas Chapin Trio and groups led by Marty Ehrlich and Mario Pavone, and rock performances with the Paul Butterfield Blues and Allen Toussaint bands. Toured worldwide as the regular drummer for Sonny Fortune, Benny Carter, Dr. Billy Taylor, and many other luminaries; worked, recorded and collaborated with Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Eddie Henderson, the Vanguard Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Big Band, Benny Carter, Phil Woods, Illinois Jacquet, Michael Brecker, Stanley Turentine, Slide Hampton, Kenny Burrell, and many others. As the drummer for NPR’s Billy Taylor’s Jazz at The Kennedy Center, recorded 75 shows with guests including Wynton Marsalis, Nancy Wilson, Joe Lavano, Arturo Sandoval, Ray Barreto, Milt Jackson, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Gary Burton, and Harry Sweet Edison. Appeared on over 70 albums by Leon Thomas, George Russell, Houston Person, John McNeil, Peter Leitch, Gary Smulyan, and Bob DeVos, among many others. Member of the collective group Native Soul, and has been co-leader on recording projects by that group (One Mind, 2012, American Showplace, Soul Step, Talking Drum Records), as well as on an album with saxophonist Peter Brainin (No Saints, No Sinners, Playscape). Recently released debut CD Family with son Daryl and wife Debbie, along with guitar greats Dave Stryker and Bob DeVos.
BILL MORING – Electric Bass, Double Bass
Indiana State University. Studied harmony and piano studies with Michael Moore, classical bass repertoire and technique with Homer Mensch (Julliard, NY Philharmonic), Gregory Dugan (Indianapolis Symphony), and Stuart Arfman (Principal, Indianapolis Symphony), jazz bass and sound reinforcement studies with Rufus Reid, jazz and classical bass with George Mraz. Currently on the faculty at Montclair State University, Sarah Lawrence College, and NJPAC’s Jazz for Teens. Has hosted an assortment of student clinics at various high school and college jazz festivals in the US and abroad; has worked with students individually and in groups at North Texas State, Rutgers, The New School, Jersey City State, Long Island University, and SUNY Purchase, among many others. A versatile bassist whose scope includes gigging with the big bands of legends Count Basie and Woody Herman, jammin’ jazz/funk and beyond with the Dave Stryker/Steve Slagle quartet, or stretching harmonic and rhythmic boundaries with John Hart and Chris Potter to performing in the classical vein as a freelancer or orchestra member. During his early years, played bass in cellist Hank Roberts’ group, was a member of the Indianapolis Philharmonic, worked with John Von Ohlen’s big band, and played with Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, and Cal Collins. Later worked with drummer Mel Lewis, toured with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd and the Count Basie Orchestra, and gigged with the Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Jazz Orchestra. Has performed with such renowned singers as Joe Williams, Mel Tormé and Susannah McCorkle, and with jazz legends Frank Foster, AI Cohn, Clark Terry, Mickey Roker, Tommy Flanagan, Junior Cook, Roland Hanna and Ray Barretto. Has performed and/or recorded with many contemporary artists including John Abercrombie, Gary Bartz, Manolo Badrena, Larry Coryell, Vic Juris, Dave Kikoski, Billy Hart, John Hart, Eddie Henderson, Joe Locke, Mulgrew Miller, Chris Potter, Dom Salvador, Dave Stryker, and James Williams, as well as on nationally aired jingles. Notable concerts and festival performances include Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall and Carnegie Hall in NYC; Monterey (CA), JVC Jazz (NY), Pori (Finland) and Winnipeg (Canada) Jazz Festivals. Former member of Intl Assoc. of Jazz Educators, current member of Intl Society of Bassists and Intl Federation of Musicians, Local #802.
SCOTT W. SIMPSON – Drums, Percussion
M.M., The Juilliard School; B.M., Hartt School of Music. Director of the NJ Youth Symphony Percussion Ensemble. Current faculty member Bergen Community College, William Paterson University, Juilliard Music Advancement Program, Music Outreach. Former faculty member, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Montclair State University, St. David’s School. Performed with such notables as Leonard Bernstein, Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Andre Watts and Sal Mosca. Orchestral credits include the American Symphony Orchestra, New York City Opera, Grand National Opera, New York Grand Opera, Korean Ballet-Lincoln Center, Canadian Brass, Musica Viva, New Philharmonic of NJ, Frank Sinatra Jr., Westchester Symphony Orchestra and Aspen Symphony Orchestra. Broadway shows include Cats, Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show and Hercules; as well as Paper Mill Playhouse productions of Annie, A Chorus Line, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and Singing in the Rain. Other credits include the U.S. National Tour of Starlight Express, and the Aspen and Waterloo Music Festivals.