2020 Program UPDATE
After deliberations with district administration, due to district and state restrictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of what is to come in the future, we are unfortunately going to have to cancel the West Milford Summer Jazz Academy for this summer. I am extremely disappointed that we are unable to run our program this year, but the safety of our students and families are of the utmost importance.
To register by mail:
Please download and complete the application form below and send the application form along with cash or check (made to WMBPA) to:
West Milford Jazz Academy
P.O. Box 603
West Milford, NJ 07480-0603
To register online:
Please fill out the online registration form below and send payment to the address above or pay online (listed below)
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us using the form below.
Matt Gramata (Program Director) has served as the Associate Director of Bands and Director of Jazz at West Milford High School since 2010. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education from The College of New Jersey and Master’s degree in music education from The University of Florida. During his tenure at West Milford, Mr. Gramata initiated a jazz program that has been awarded 1st place at the prestigious Berklee High School Jazz Festival, qualified for NJAJE State Finals every year, placed 2nd in NJAJE State Finals in six consecutive years (2015-2020), and was selected as a performing ensemble at both the NAfME Eastern Division Conference and the New Jersey Music Educators Association State Convention.
His ensembles have performed and worked with many great jazz musicians including Slide Hampton, Jaleel Shaw, Joel Frahm, Ron Blake, Adam Larson, Ron Cuber, Bruce Williams, Bob Magnusson, Conrad Herwig, Clarence Penn, Ralph Bowen, Alex Foster, and Joe Magnarelli. He credits much of his performance passion, skills, and musical knowledge to the many fantastic teachers he has worked with including John Perillo, Kathleen Mitchell, Lynn Klock, Steve Wilson, Brandon Wright, Nathan Childers, Lenny Pickett, and Chase Baird on saxophone, Kimberly O’Hare on flute, and Joseph D’Auguste on clarinet
Saxophonist and educator Julius Tolentino has been a staple of the New York jazz scene for over 20 years. In this capacity, he has played and recorded with numerous small groups and big bands including Louis Haye’s Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band and the Louis Hayes Quartet, Eric Reed’s Sextet, Jeremy Pelt’s Quintet, Natalie Cole, Wycliffe Gordon, Connie Francis, Gloria Gaynor, the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, the Christian McBride Big Band, Cecile Mclorin, Michael Feinstein, Dianne Reeves, Jimmy Heath, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. A graduate of the Hartt School of Music, Julius studied with alto saxophone legend Jackie McLean, who introduced him to his second musical father, Illinois Jacquet.
Renowned as a gifted music educator, “Mr. T” has worked with hundreds of students nationwide. He joined Newark Academy in Livingston, New Jersey, as jazz director in 2007, and currently conducts five nationally known student ensembles. He also holds positions at the New Jersey Youth Symphony as director of the NJYS Jazz Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center as a middle school jazz academy director as well as a JALC travelling clinician. Julius served as New Jersey Association of Jazz Educators Region I president from 2009-2011 and received NJAJE’s Jazz Education Achievement Award in 2018. He was also the director of large ensembles at Montclair-based Jazz House Kids from 2010-2017. His groups have won and been finalists in several national festivals and competitions, including Essentially Ellington (2012-2018), the Charles Mingus Competition (2011-2018) and the Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival. At the state level, Newark Academy has won first place at the NJAJE State Finals for ten years running, from 2010-2019.
Saxophonist, composer, and educator Jim Saltzman has performed with musicians such as George Coleman, James Moody, Eddie Gomez, Jon Faddis, and many others, as well as various jazz clubs throughout NJ and NYC, including The Blue Note, Smalls, Cecil's, Shanghai Jazz and many others. Jim was a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop from 2009-2011, and was awarded the 2011 BMI Foundation Charlie Parker Composition Prize. His most recent CD of original compositions, “Hidden Intentions” was released in April 2007 on Jazz Excursion Records and was chosen as one of the “Top Ten Jazz CD’s of 2007” by the Boston Globe. As a passionate and dedicated educator, Jim is currently on the teaching faculty at the Manhattan School of Music (in the Precollege, undergraduate, and graduate Jazz Arts program) and adjunct faculty at Drew University. Jim graduated with honors with a B.M. in Jazz and Commercial Music (Performance) from the University of the Arts in 2000, and his M.M. in Jazz Studies (Performance) from William Paterson University in 2002. He is a current DMA (Jazz Arts Advancement) candidate at Manhattan School of Music.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the West Milford Jazz Academy?
The Jazz Academy is a week long program for students looking to continue their development in jazz over the summer break from school. This program aims to develop ensemble techniques, improvisation, knowledge of theory, and other musical skills needed for today's jazz student. The Academy's aim is to also provide families a cost effective program that is also close in proximity to students in northern New Jersey.
When does the Jazz Academy take place?
The program runs from July 6 to July 10, with a student performance on the 10th. The session begins at 9am every day and concludes at 12pm.
Where will the program be held?
The jazz academy will be held at West Milford High School which is located at:
67 Highlander Drive
West Milford, NJ 07480
How are students grouped into ensembles?
Students are grouped into big bands by experience and ability levels. These placements are based on recommendations by their teachers and by audio/video submission. Students are asked to submit an audio or video recording representing their abilities. Students are asked to record themselves performing a jazz song they may have performed in school, a transcription, etc. No improvisation is required for the submission. Students can send their recordings to . Students who do not submit a recording will be placed based on teacher recommendation and instrumentation needs.
What is the typical daily schedule?
The day is broken down into one 3 hour session. Each session will contain an hour for large ensemble rehearsal, and hour for instrumental sectional/masterclass, and an hour lecture covering topics such as improvisation and jazz theory. Ensembles will rotate classes throughout the daily session.
What is the tuition/registration fee and how can I submit that payment?
The tuition for the week program is $300 per student. Registration and payment can be completed online and can be found on this webpage, or can be sent to:
West Milford Jazz Academy
P.O. Box 603
West Milford, NJ 07480
Checks should be made out to WMBPA
What are students required to bring?
Students are required to bring:
> Their instrument
> Their music
> A pencil
> Any instrument accessories that are needed (mutes, reeds, cymbals, sticks, etc.)
> Music staff notebook (optional)
We will provide staff music paper for those who do not have a music staff notebook.
What time and where will the Friday concert be?
The concert on the 10th will be in the West Milford High School Auditorium and begin at 12:15 PM.
2019 Camp Audio
Rob Middleton is a saxophonist, a prize-winning composer, and an active woodwind player and teacher in the New York area. He works in a broad range of styles, from jazz and classical to commercial and ethnic music. He has performed around the U.S and abroad with many jazz greats, including Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Phil Woods, Harry Connick Jr., Lionel Hampton, The New York Voices, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Lovano, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Woody Shaw, Oliver Lake, David Liebman, Randy Brecker, Jane Ira Bloom, Billy Hart, and Jim McNeely. Rob’s recent recordings, both jazz and classical, include “Portraits and Places” with the Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra, “Open Crossings”, music of Andy Teirstein, “Eleven” with the Birdland Big Band, “Composers in Collaboration”, new music by New Jersey women composers, and “Urban Soundscapes” with NewYorkestra, which he co-leads and writes for. He is the former music director of the Birdland Big Band and is a long-time member of the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to performing works created by the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Rob is a former participant in that workshop and a winner of its composition prize. Rob is a member of the music faculty at Caldwell University in Caldwell, New Jersey.
During the past 40 years Vinnie Cutro has performed with noted jazz greats such as Horace Silver, Buddy Rich and Lionel Hampton. He has traveled extensively throughout the world appearing at jazz festivals and concerts in Europe, Japan, Africa, Canada, South America and the United States. As a member of the Lionel Hampton Quintet, he performed guest appearances with various symphonic orchestras in the U.S.A. such as the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Omaha Symphony. As a freelance musician, he has had the opportunity to work with artists such as: Aretha Franklin, The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Mike Stern, Billy Hart, Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Mintzer, Ray Charles, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Jim McNeely, Mike Richmond, Jay Anderson, Arturo O’Farrel Orchestra, The Mel Lewis Orchestra, Xavier Cugot Orchestra, Mel Torme, Bernard Purde, Barry Manilow, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Donald Fagan, Mark Egan, Mike Longo Orchestra, and many more. He received his formal musical at New Jersey University where he received his B.A in Music Education.He later continued his education at New York University where he received his Masters in Jazz Performance.There he furthered his studies in jazz composition,classical studies,jazz arranging and counterpoint with Dr. Tom Boras and Jim McNeely.
Timothy Hayward was born and raised in Paris, France. He is a graduate of the Regional Paris Conservatory in Classical Saxophone and a graduate of the Paris Conservatory in Jazz. He began playing professionally at the age of 18 in classical, jazz, and contemporary music, including repertoire for ballet and theater. He splits his time equally between teaching and performing as a professional musician, leading his own groups as well as being a busy "sideman" for other bands. Timothy Hayward is an active composer and arranger both in the classical and jazz domains: he has written works for choir, solo instruments, solo instrument and piano, big band, and string quartets. His recently published Songbook brings together 121 of his jazz originals. He moved to the U.S.A. in July of 2010 and has taken the position of Band Director at Christopher Columbus Middle School. He also co-leads the One More Once Big Band with Joseph Verderese.
Joe Verderese is a trombonist who holds degrees from West Chester University and the Manhattan School of Music. Joe is currently the Director of Instrumental Music at Cresskill Middle/High School where he teaches grades 6-12 and directs the jazz band, wind ensemble, and many other small ensembles. Joe is proud to be the co-founder of the One More Once Big Band. Through his leadership along with Tim Hayward, the One More Once Big Band has performed with jazz greats including Carl Allen, Eric Alexander, Ralph Bowen, Don Braden, Cecil Bridgewater, Ronnie Cuber, Dave Demsey, Denis Diblasio, Jon Faddis, Joel Frahm, Wycliffe Gordon, Mark Gross, Slide Hampton, Antonio Hart, Freddie Hendrix, Vincent Herring, Conrad Herwig, Ingrid Jensen, Pete McGuinness, Rufus Reid, Claudio Roditi, J and many more.
Pianist Oscar Perez, a New York City native, has shared the stage with jazz legends Bunky Green, George Russell and Curtis Fuller. Studying at the University of North Florida, New England Conservatory and Aaron Copland School of Music, he served under the guidance of Danilo Perez and Sir Roland Hanna, respectively. Since moving back to New York, he has played in the musical groups of Phoebe Snow, Wycliffe Gordon, Melissa Walker, Christian McBride, Charenee Wade, Dave Stryker, Steve Turre and Eddie Allen. Oscar is also on faculty at Montclair State University, Drew University, and for Jazz House Kids based in Montclair and has been an educator through Carnegie Hall, the Kupferberg Center at Queens College and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
He is the recipient of the 2006 ASCAP/IAJE Commission in honor of Billy Strayhorn. Oscar’s group, featuring Antonio Hart, premiered the work at the 2007 International Association of Jazz Education Convention. His critically acclaimed CD Afropean Affair is the result of a New Works Grant by Chamber Music America for his septet Oscar Perez Nuevo Comienzo. He recently placed second in the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. His latest endeavor, Prepare a Place for Me, features Bruce Williams and is available through all media outlets.
Karl Latham’s career has spanned the globe performing, recording with, and producing with Grammy Award winning artists. Karl is included in the Drummerworld Top 500 Drummers list and was nominated for the BMW 2016 Welt Jazz Award. Karl is an endorsing artist for Paiste Cymbals, Yamaha Drums, Innovative Percussion, Evans Drumheads, Big Fat Snare,AEA Microphones and RME. Karl is currently an adjunct percussion instructor at Drew University, County College of Morris and Passaic County Community College. As a freelance drummer Karl has performed with many acclaimed musicians including Andy Snitzer; Edgar Winter; The Real Deal Big Band; John Lee (Executive Director Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra); The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars; Claudio Roditi; Slide Hampton; Clark Terry; Jon Faddis; Johannes Mossinger Quartet (with guests Joel Frahm, Don Braden, Seamus Blake, and Joe Lovano); and played on the Broadway productions of “Bring It On” , “Hamilton”, and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”.
A veteran of the New York City jazz scene for over 30 years, bassist Bill Moring has established a reputation as one of the city's most in demand players. Bill moved to New York City in 1984 and immediately began working with drummer Mel Lewis. His first road gig came when he joined Woody Herman's Thundering Herd in 1985. In 1986, Bill received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to study with Rufus Reid and continued his studies with the legendary Homer Mensch. In 1987, after touring with Michel LeGrand, Bill got the gig with the Count Basie Orchestra and spent the next year touring the world. Bill is active today recording and performing with a wide variety of artists. Other big band experiences include the Village Vanguard Orchestra and the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabakin Jazz Orchestra. He has played with renowned singers such as Joe Williams, Mel Torme and Diane Schurr, to name few. He has played with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, Frank Foster, Al Cohn, Clark Terry, Mel Lewis, and Ray Barretto. He has also performed and/or recorded with many contemporary artists including John Abercrombie, Vic Juris, Billy Hart, John Hart, Eddie Henderson, Joe Locke, Mulgrew Miller, and Chris Potter, An advocate of music education, Moring has hosted an assortment of student clinics at various high school and college jazz festivals in the US and abroad and is currently on the faculty at Montclair State University, Sarah Lawrence College, and NJPAC’s Jazz for Teens.
Darrell Hendricks is currently Associate Director of Bands at Mount Olive High School. Under his direction, the Mount Olive High School Jazz Ensemble has grown from one concert per year to regular performances at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival, Essentially Ellington Regional Festivals at the Newark Academy and Temple University, the Rowan Jazz Festival, NJAJE State Preliminary and Final Rounds, and has also performed at the world famous Apollo Theater in 2014. Mr. Hendricks has taught at the Mt. Tabor Summer Music Camp as a Jazz Instructor and also as an Adjunct Professor of Brass Pedagogy at Montclair State University. He has also conducted the NAJEA Region I & III High School Jazz Ensembles and now currently serves as the President of Region I for NAJEA.
Mr. Hendricks has performed with the critically acclaimed Glenn Miller Orchestra, Peter Cetera, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Josh Groban, The Four Tops, Maria Schneider Orchestra, Frank Kuamba Lacy, Video Games Live, Secret Society Orchestra, Darlene Love, Ritchie Van Zandt, and Alan Chez with the Brothers of Funk. He also has performed with several Broadway productions such as Curtains, The Lion King, Cry Baby, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Les Miserables, and toured with Broadway Shows such as The Music Man, Miss Saigon, and Swing Forever.
Trumpeter Nathan Eklund 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, Jimmy Heath Big Band, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Phil Woods Festival Orchestra, Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, and many more. As an educator, Nathan directs student programming at Jazz House Kids in Montclair, NJ, offers clinics/master classes nationwide, and runs his own private trumpet studio.