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PREVIEW: Haneef Nelson Quartet comes to West Stockbridge’s Old Town Hall on Saturday, May 4

Mr. Nelson is a well established jazz band arranger, having contributed a number of charts to recordings of the New London Big Band.

West Stockbridge — Jazz trumpeter Haneef Nelson is a member of the adjunct faculty in the Department of Music and Dance, College of Humanities & Fine Arts, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. But this month, he will receive his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Composition from The Hartt School, just days after he appears with his quartet at Old Town Hall, on May 4, as part of the West Stockbridge Historical Society’s jazz concert series. Joining him for this performance will be Michael Carabello on keyboard, Matt Dwonszyk on bass, and Akin Hobson on drums.

While the Berklee College of Music has been supplying the Berkshires with monstrously skilled jazz performers and educators for many years, The Hartt School has lately been looking especially good to local jazz aficionados, especially after they heard Hartt Assistant Professor of Jazz Matt DeChamplain play with the Django Festival Allstars at the Berkshire Museum last February.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in Uniondale, N.Y., Mr. Nelson’s musical education began in Harlem with the Jazzmobile program, where he studied trumpet and music theory, in addition to performing in ensembles led by star players like Eddie Preston, Cecil Bridgewater, Dr. Donald Byrd, John Stubblefield, Frank Foster, Charles Davis, and Roland Guerrero. One of Nelson’s mentors was Donald Byrd, along with his high school music teachers Cedric J. Lemmie, from Uniondale High School, and Dave Burns, from the Long Island High School of the Arts.

Nelson’s mentors encouraged him to study at the African-American Music Department of The Hartt School, where he received instruction from the department’s founder, Jackie McLean, along with Steve Davis, Nat Reeves, Raymond Williams, Chris Casey, Mary DiPaola, and Roger Murtha. He subsequently studied jazz composition and arranging at UMass Amherst with Jeff Holmes, Felipe Salles, Sal Macchia, Eric Berlin, and Fumi Tomita.

Based out of Hartford, Conn., Haneef is a well established jazz-band arranger, having contributed a number of charts to recordings of the New London Big Band, and he has performed with such players as Rene McLean, Bill Saxton, Jimmy Owens, Donald Byrd, William Cepeda, Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Nat Reeves, Steve Davis, Yoron Israel, Avery Sharpe, Winard Harper, Frank Lacy, Bill Lowe, Chico Freeman, Helen Sung, Wayne Escoffrey, Kris Allen, Abraham Burton, E.J. Strickland, Brandee Younger, Dezron Douglas, David Bryant, Stacey Dillard, Zaccai Curtis, Luques Curtis, Ray McMorrin, Josh Evans, Doobie Powell, Billy “Church Boy” Powell, Kevin Powell, Ace Livingstone, and Musiq Soulchild. In addition to his own groups, Nelson is a long-standing member of several other bands in multiple genres.

Nelson has taught at The Hartt School, UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Keene State College, and the University of Rhode Island.

Hear the Haneef Nelson Quartet at Old Town Hall, 9 Main St, West Stockbridge, on May 4, at 7 p.m. Tickets ($35 for members, $40 for non-member) are available here.


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