PA Jazz Collective


In its inaugural year, 2012, the Pennsylvania Jazz Collective presented two major events. The first of these, a Spring Concert, featured the PA Jazz nominated Artist of the Year, Nelson Hill, Bangor (PA) High School and Eastman Conservatory of Music graduate. Nelson was presented to the theme "Three Generations of Alto Saxophone Masters." This performance featured octogenarian Grand Master, jazz legend, multiple Grammy award and industry poll winning saxophonist, Phil Woods. Mr. Woods is a resident of nearby Delaware Water Gap, PA and served as mentor and teacher to Nelson in his formative years. Completing the third generation, Stroudsburg High School and Manhattan School of Music graduate and former protege of both Nelson and Phil, Jay Rattman, Nazareth (PA) native and "next generation" saxophonist Patrick McGee was also introduced at this performance hosted by Bnai Abraham Synagogue in Easton, PA. The second event occurred in fall and was hosted by the Moravian College Music Department in Bethlehem, PA. The debut of the November Jazz Series, with the trumpet theme, lasted four days and included an assembly outreach program for local area students Grades 4 - 8, a full day of jazz trumpet clinics featuring PA Jazz Collective area trumpeters of distinction and two evening concerts with the quintet, Co-Op Bop and Moravian student ensembles. PA Jazz sponsored a visit by Mr. Brecker to Allentown School District's Raub Middle School.

Additionally in this first year with the emphasis on education through the arts, PA Jazz sponsored various youth showcases and workshops at local locations. The aforementioned was accomplished while application for 501(c) 3 status was under review. The Pennsylvania Jazz Collective has since been awarded IRS Tax Exemption status. 2012 culminated with the production of a holiday recording featuring PA Jazz Collective artists. This CD was sponsored by Dave Berger and Rose Day with matching contribution by PPL Electric Utilities. It was given to all donating patrons at our year-end Jazz Vespers service presented at the Church of the Manger, Bethlehem, PA in December.

In 2013, PA Jazz featured an awards presentation and performance in spring hosted by Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Tom Kozic, guitarist and graduate of Whitehall (PA) High School was named Artist of the Year. As April is "National Jazz Appreciation Month," PA Jazz artists were presented in various neighborhoods throughout the Lehigh Valley (PA). Youth showcases were presented at various performance venues including Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem.

With the 2013 theme of saxophone, PA Jazz revisited a partnership with the Moravian College Music Department to present Phil Woods in the second annual November Jazz Series which culminated in a concert featuring commissioned works by area arrangers Nelson Hill and Neil Wetzel and composer Tony Gairo to showcase Mr. Woods. The performance was recorded and archived. 2013 concluded with a Jazz Vespers service at the Church of the Manger.

In 2014 PA Jazz joined Bethlehem performance space, Ice House, to present the first annual PA Jazz Idol program. Modeled after the popular television show "American Idol," this program showcased aspiring area jazz students. Prizes were sponsored by local businesses and included cash and appearance opportunities. Annual awards were announced and included Artist of the Year, organist Craig Kastelnik. Students and sponsors were recognized as well. PA Jazz artists were featured at many venues throughout the Lehigh Valley in 2014 including a Wine and Jazz Day at Sorrenti's Cherry Valley Winery and an Allentown (PA) Mayfair Festival of the Arts performance featuring a regional All-Star Septet with representatives from neighboring jazz organizations including Steve Rudolph, Central PA Friends of Jazz (Harrisburg), Marko Marcinko and Tony Marino, (Scranton) PA Jazz Alliance, Rick Chamberlain and Matt Vashlishan, Celebration of the Arts (Poconos PA) and Andy Warren of Berks, PA with Alan Gaumer and Neil Wetzel representing the PA Jazz Collective. The November Jazz Series III closed 2014 with esteemed composer, vocalist, and pianist Bob Dorough as guest performer.

For PA Jazz Appreciation month 2015 and riding the popularity of the first Jazz Idol event, PA Jazz again collaborated with Moravian College to present the Second Annual PA Jazz Idol competition. This event also featured the Collective's Fourth Annual Award Ceremony. An All-Star group featuring 2015 Artist of the Year, drummer Gary Rissmiller, was assembled to perform at the Mayfair Festival of the Arts in May. The new "Vanguard Series" will feature Nelson Hill in performance with the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts Jazz Band at Godfrey Daniels. Spring activities culminated with another Wine and Jazz Day at Sorrenti's Vineyards in June. This event marked the First Annual Jerry Kozic Memorial Scholarship Concert. Proceeds benefit scholarships in his name.

In fall, the Ice House hosted the first annual “Fall for Jazz” party. Jazz series IV instrument of focus was the trombone and the featured artist was Pennsylvania native and acclaimed trombonist, Robin Eubanks. An assembly, clinics and concert were presented November 18-20, 2015 at Moravian College with a Thursday evening performance at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem.

In 2016 the Pennsylvania Jazz Collective spring season will once again present their popular Pa Jazz Idol program on Wednesday April 27.  They will also unveil an exciting new summer season with events at Cherry Valley Winery and Riverside Park in Easton, Pa. Both of these programs will showcase youth. A jazz festival featuring an All-Star regional lineup will premiere on Saturday July 16. Details will be announced in January. The fall season Jazz Series V will focus on the big band and the featured guest artist is internationally recognized composer Maria Schneider. The series will once be hosted by Moravian College and is scheduled to run from November 15- 18, 2016.