Jazz Studies Faculty Profiles

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Jazz Studies Faculty Profiles

Jazz Studies Faculty Profiles

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Our Faculty


Allen Farnham teaches Applied Jazz Piano, Jazz Arranging & Composition, and Jazz Improvisation. His teaching style emphasizes a strong foundation in the fundamentals of improvising and composing within a jazz style. Allen focuses on theory, ear training, and knowledge of various jazz style.An active jazz pianist, composer/arranger, producer, recording credits include Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, Charlie Byrd, and more. Allen records extensively as both a leader and side musician, and has worked as a staff producer and arranger for the jazz label, Concord Records. A graduate of the Oberlin Music Conservatory, Allen is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment For The Arts and Meet The Composer Foundation. He also holds a Master of Music Degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging from William Paterson University. 

Bobby Shew

Bobby Shew teaches applied trumpet and general guruness at NJCU.
Bobby moved to NYC after service in the army. Joined Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, rooming and playing with legendary Charlie Shavers. After Dorsey, went to Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Si Zentner, Benny Goodman.

1972 moved to Los Angeles and became a first-call studio musician as well as continuing to play on big bands of Bill Holman, Bob Florence, Louie Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Ed Shaughnessy, Bill Berry, and Nat Pierce-Frank Capp Juggernaut.
Author of “ETUDES AND EXERCISES FOR JAZZ AND CLASSICAL PLAYER” & “BASIC STUDY GUIDE FOR TRUMPET”. Former Chairman for IAJE and ITG. Former Assoc. Professor of Trpt. at USC ( Los Angeles – 10 years ) , Cal. State Northridge ( 18 years ),  Calif. Institute Of The Arts ( 3 years ).
Numerous Artist-in-Residencies world-wide in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, Canada, Austria. Elected into New Mexico Music Hall Of Fame. Numerous Grammy nominations and 1982 Received Jazz Album Of The Year award.

Elio Villafranca

Elio Villafranca teaches Applied piano and ensembles at NJCU.
Born in Cuba, since his arrival in the U.S. in mid 1995, Elio Villafranca is at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable pianists, composers and bandleaders.
He received a 2010 Grammy Nomination in the Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year category. In 2008 The Jazz Corner nominated Elio Villafranca as pianist of the year.
Over the years Elio has recorded and performed nationally and internationally as a leader, featuring jazz master artists such as Pat Martino, Terell Stafford, Billy Hart, Paquito D’Rivera, Eric Alexander, and Lewis Nash, David Murray, and Wynton Marsalis among others. As a sideman Elio Villafranca has collaborated with leading jazz and Latin jazz artists including: Chick Corea, Billy Harper, Sonny Fortune, Giovanni Hidalgo, Miguel Zenón, and Johnny Pacheco among others.
Elio is based in New York City and he is a faculty member of Temple University, Philadelphia, The Juilliard School of Music, New York University, and Manhattan School of Music.

Freddy Lobaton

Freddy teaches Applied percussion, World Percussion Ensemble & Afro-Peruvian Ensemble at NJCU.
Maestro Huevito hails from Pamplona Alta, Lima, Peru. He has performed and toured internationally with Afro-Peruvian music luminaries and played and composed for Eva Ayllón, Peru Negro, Lucila Campos, Guajaja and la Peña Don Porfirio. A member of Peru’s legendary Lobatón family, Huevito  is considered the world’s leading authority on Peruvian zapateo dancing and one of the most virtuosic percussionists of his generation. Huevito’s distinctive approach to the cajón, quijada (jawbone) and cajita in a jazz context has made him a pioneer among Afro-Peruvian percussionists. He is a founding member and an essential element of Gabriel Alegriá’s Afro-Peruvian Sextet since 2005. Huevito has also appeared as guest artist on stage and in recordings with The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and in hundreds of recordings and broadcasts throughout Perú.


Garry Dial

Garry Dial teaches Improvisation, Jazz Theory, Ear Training & ensembles at NJCU.
Gary has firmly established himself as one of the most prodigious and respected talents in jazz today, always broadening his artistic horizons as a pianist, composer, producer and teacher. Throughout his remarkable career, he has performed with such jazz legends as Red Rodney, Dick Oatts, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Roy Haynes, Mel Lewis, Nat Adderly, Joe Lovano, and Jerry Bergonzi. As an educator, Dial is also a member of the Manhattan School of Music’s faculty in New York City, having passed on his vast musical knowledge to many of today and tomorrow's rising musical stars.

Jay Anderson

Bassist/composer Jay Anderson teaches Applied double bass and  ensembles at NJCU.
Jay has performed/recorded with a wide range of jazz artists including Woody Herman, Carmen McRae, Michael Brecker, Paul Bley, Bob Mintzer, John Abercrombie, Dave Liebman, Maria Schneider, John Scofield, Lee Konitz, Red Rodney, Ira Sullivan, Mike Stern, Anat Cohen, Toots Thielemans, Kenny Wheeler, Jay Clayton and non-jazz artists like Oswaldo Golijov, Dawn Upshaw, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, Robert Spano (Atlanta Symphony), David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Terre Roche, Chaka Khan, Allen Ginsberg, and Celine Dion.He has been featured on over 400 recordings, seven of which have received the Grammy Award. Jay has conducted clinics around the world and is a Professor of Jazz Bass Studies at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Currently co-leads the critically acclaimed group BANN featuring Seamus Blake, Oz Noy and Adam Nussbaum.

Jeff Watts

Jeff "Tain" Watts teaches Applied drums and Ensembles at NJCU.
 holds the unique distinction of being the only musician to appear on every Grammy Award-winning jazz record by both Wynton and Branford Marsalis.
Has worked in the film and television industry as both a musician on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and as an actor, playing Rhythm Jones in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues.
Watts performed and recorded with the Branford Marsalis Quartet from 1985 to 2009. He currently performs with his own groups The Watts Project and the Jeff "Tain" Watts Quartet, as well as with McCoy Tyner.
Watts writes most of the compositions on his own albums.


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. 

Nick Biello

Saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist and composer Nick Biello teaches alto saxophone applied at NJCU.
Nick has shared the stage with world-class artists, such as Slide Hampton, Cedar Walton, the Jimmy Heath Big Band, Rich Perry, Phil Markowitz, Steve Davis, Clarence Penn, John Benitez, Henry Cole, Victor Bailey, Jaimoe Johnson and Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers. And played at the most famous venues and festivals throughout the United States and Europe.
Nick has been recorded on hundreds of albums, from his own original projects to his work as a sideman for other artists.
In demand as a composer and arranger, Nicholas has written arrangements that have been performed by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Dave Koz, and Kelly Rowland.

Nick has studied with Jackie McLean, Steve Wilson, George Garzone, Jon Gordon, and Phil Markowitz, and holds a Master of Music Degree from Manhattan School of Music.

Olegario Diaz

Composer/pianist, Olegario Diaz teaches applied piano, jazz theory and ensembles at NJCU.
Olegario studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Composition in 1978. Later, in 1986 he earned a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

Olegario Diaz has performed as a pianist in the East and West Coast with artists such as Tito Puente, Willie Bobbo, Celia Cruz, Mario Bauza Big Band, Paquito de Rivera, Louie Ramirez, Victor Paz and Daniel Ponce.

For his debut album, he recorded with renowned musicians in the New York jazz scene: Rich Perry, Ron McClure and Billy Hart.

For his second, third, fourth and fifth  albums, he reunited with artists like Randy Brecker, Lewis Nash, Ron McClure, Rich Perry, Alex Sipiagin, Seamus Blake, Scott Colley, Jeff Tain Watts, James Genus, Nate Smith, Bob Franceshini and Bill Stewart.


Paul has gained a reputation as one of the top jazz and Brazilian jazz guitarists of our time, being called, "One of the most eloquent jazz guitarists since Kenny Burrell.” NY Times. Paul toured worldwide for many years with jazz singers Jon Hendricks and Andy Bey. He has performed and recorded with an ever growing list of jazz greats - Geri Allen, Karrin Allyson, Kenny Barron, Bruce Barth, Ron Carter, Jovino Santos Neto, Rufus Reid, Claudio Roditi, Annie Ross and David Sanchez to name just a few.Paul has a number of critically acclaimed CDs. He teaches jazz guitar, improvisation and coaches jazz and Brazilian ensembles at William Patterson University and Peabody conservatory. He also taught at the Jazz for Teens program at NJPAC in Newark. 

Robert Edwards

Robert Edwards teaches applied trombone and Arranging at NJCU.
is one the bright new voices in jazz trombone today.  
Educated at The Juilliard School, Edwards' move to New York has been highlighted by performances with Jimmy Heath, Claudio Roditi, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.  
Ever striving for greater musical heights, his vigilance to be a leader in the music is realized by his debut on D Clef Records, "Sound Business".

"Robert Edwards is a wonderful trombonist with a smooth flow of ideas and great intonation. His harmonic understanding is exemplary and his writing is strong both in the tradition and in the modern/contemporary sense.  I look for a lot more from Robert in the future." - Steve Turre, Trombone Icon

Sara Serpa

Sara Serpa teaches vocal jazz choir & applied lessons at NJCU.
Sara’s reputation as an innovative vocalist, improviser, and composer, has been growing for the past couple of years, since she initiated a collaboration with alto saxophonist Greg Osby, with whom she recorded his latest album “Nine Levels” and performed at the Village Vanguard. Sara Serpa has recently recorded with pianist Danilo Perez and has been keeping a regular activity as a leader of her own quintet in New York and Europe. Serpa has performed in all major venues in New York City and in Portugal. Among her collaborations are Greg Osby, Ran Blake, Danilo Perez, Esperanza Spalding, Ben Street, John Hebert, Thomas Morgan, Tyshawn Sorey, John Lockwood, Andre Matos, Jesse Chandler, Ferenc Nemeth, Matt Pavolka, Pete Rende, Kris Davis, Logan Richarson, Nick Falk, Peter Slavov, Aruan Ortiz, Leo Genovese, Albert Sanz, Masa Kamaguchi, Vardan Ovsepian.

Sheila Jordan

Sheila Jordan teaches applied voice and vocal seminar at NJCU. 
(born Sheila Jeanette Dawson) Sheila is a great American jazz singer and songwriter.
She has recorded as a session musician with an array of critically acclaimed artists in addition to recording her own albums. Jordan pioneered a bebop and scat jazz singing style with an upright bass as the only accompaniment. 
Jordan's music has earned praise from many critics, particularly for her ability to improvise lyrics; Scott Yanow describes her as "one of the most consistently creative of all jazz singers." Charlie Parker often introduced Jordan as "the singer with the million dollar ears."

Shirazette Tinnin

Shirazette Tinnin teaches Applied Drums, musician health and personal training at NJCU.
As an on demand drummer based in New York City, Shirazette performs and tours frequently with premier bands and artists such as the Allan Harris Group, Tia Fuller Quartet, The Mimi Jones Band, Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, Women of the World Ensemble, Queen Esther, Gabriel Algeria Afro Peruvian Sextet, Natalie Douglass and many others.  
Shirazette is also the leader of her own projects including the Shirazette and Sonic WallPaper Fusion Band  and The Blue Popped Culture Trio
An active clinician, educator, mentor, composer, a certified personal trainer and published author. She is passionate about preserving the health, wellness, stamina and integrity of her craft.  Her articles about performance and health advocacy have been featured in Modern Drummer and Tom Tom Magazine.


Argentine vocalist, composer and producer, Sofia combines many styles in her music drawn from multiple sources, ranging from South American folk to jazz, pop, new classical music and electronic sounds. Two of her four critically acclaimed albums have earned Independent Music Awards.The array of artists she has worked with includes John Zorn, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, Myra Melford, the Klezmatics, Pedrito Martinez, Susana Baca, and Geoffrey Keezer with whom she earned a Grammy Nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album of 2009. She works with Berklee College of Music’s Global Initiatives program. Her music has taken her all around the world to venues and festivals including Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, Weiner Konzerhaus, Montreal Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz, and Teatro Degollado. 


Tim teaches jazz drums, composition and arranging. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, recoding and performing with many artists including John Scofield, Bob Mover, The Jazz Composers Collective, Wynton Marsalis, The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, and The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra to name a few.Tim has traveled extensively in the US, Europe, Asia, North and South America. He represented the U.S. State Department as a member of the “The Jazz Ambassadors,” with the Roseanna Vitro Quartet in the Balkins. Tim loves to harness the power of music with a broad audience of fellow music lovers and passionate musicians. Tim has found great joy and satisfaction in making music and sharing it with fans and people all over the world.

Tim has an artist endorsement with Vic Firth Sticks and with Istanbul Cymbals.