Dr. Rhonda Taylor
Dr. Rhonda Taylor has been on faculty at New Mexico State University since 2003, where she is the College Associate Professor of Saxophone and Music Theory. She completed her D.M.A. at the University of Arizona, and earned her M.M. as a graduate assistant of John Sampen at Bowling Green State University. Her additional studies include performances in master classes held by Fred Hemke and Eugene Rousseau, as well as attending Domaine Forget Music Academie to study with Jean-Marie Londeix and Jean-François Guay.
In recent years, Dr. Taylor has expanded her artistic activity to include free improvisation. She is dedicated to the creation of meaningful sonic art of our time. Her improvisatory work is focused primarily on exploring the extremes of the parameters of sound and perception for long durations of time. Dr. Taylor’s second solo album of solo improvisations, Necropolis, debuted at the #1 rank for Avant Garde/Free Jazz on Amazon.com in August 2015. Her most recent release is the album Futures, a collaboration with composer Steven Leffue, in which she improvises with a computer using artificial intelligence. Her next solo album, Nth Volume One, will be released in November 2016.
In 2002, Dr. Taylor was awarded a scholarship to the International Clarinet and Saxophone Connection held at New England Conservatory, where she studied with Arno Bornkamp, Jean-Michel Goury, and Kenneth Radnofsky.Rhonda Taylor is a Conn-Selmer artist and plays on Selmer Paris saxophones exclusively.
Dr. Evan Smith
Dr. Evan Smith is an innovative teacher and versatile performer on both saxophone and clarinet able to span numerous musical genres. He holds degrees in saxophone performance and music education from the University of Washington, University of Northern Iowa, and James Madison University,.
A passionate advocate for new music, Evan has premiered numerous new works for saxophone, and most recently performed at the 2015 World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, France. Outside the concert hall, Evan performs regularly in both jazz and pop genres, and is most notably a member of the acclaimed soul band The Dip. Before moving to Seattle, he traveled the world as a musician for Holland America and Celebrity cruise lines.
An experienced educator, Evan is one of the most in-demand private instructors and clinicians in the Pacific Northwest, and appears regularly at schools throughout the Seattle area. In 2015, Evan co-founded the Seattle Saxophone Institute, a week-long saxophone-specific summer camp for local high-school students. From 2008-2010, Evan was the saxophone coach for the Celebration Iowa Jazz Band, an elite touring student big band based out of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Prior to this, Evan spent six months studying music in Caracas, Venezuela while completing his student teaching – teaching band and general music to students aged 2-18.
Evan has enjoyed concerto appearances with the University of Northern Iowa Wind Symphony, the James Madison University Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, the University of Washington Wind Ensemble. He has recently appeared as an invited clinician at both Pacific Lutheran University and Graceland College. He has also performed in saxophone quartets the New England Saxophone Symposium and the Plowman Chamber Music Competition.
Saxophonist and composer Neil Welch is recognized as a major voice in the Seattle jazz and avant-garde music fields. All About Jazz Magazine called Neil’s solo work ”stunning and extraordinary," and his ability to weave several notes at once into chords–called multiphonics or split tones–has garnered him critical acclaim. Neil is an artist and founding member of the experimental record label and concert presenter Table and Chairs Music, an organization awarded Best Northwest Concert three consecutive years in a row by Earshot Jazz Magazine (2012-2014). He is also a founding member of the Seattle performance series the Racer Sessions. Neil performs most notably as 1/2 of the drum and saxophone duo Bad Luck, where Neil processes his horn through live electronics.
Neil has performed throughout the United States and Europe, spanning traditional jazz to classical and avant-garde music. He has released 6 solo albums, including Boxwork, which was honored as one of the “Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2012” by All About Jazz Magazine. He was named “Emerging Artist of the Year” (2008) and his band Bad Luck was named “Outside Jazz Group of the Year” (2011) by Earshot Jazz Magazine. Growing up in the Seattle area, Neil played in the Edmonds-Woodway Jazz Ensemble. In 2003 he was awarded the Outstanding Tenor Saxophone Award by Wynton Marsalis at the famed Essentially Ellington competition. Neil went on to study music at the University of Washington, where he graduated with a BM in Jazz studies. From 2004-09 Neil also studied North Indian classical music on the saxophone under the sitar master Pandit Debi Prasad Chatterjee.
Neil is an instructor and Educational Coordinator for the SRJO Jazz Scholars program and the Musical Pathways Project. Both programs support the fight for equal student access to a quality education in Southeast Seattle music programs. He has given clinics on solo music at CalArts, North Texas State and Cornish College of the Arts. Performance residencies have included the U of Missouri and Montana, among others. He is currently a saxophone instructor for the Lakeside School, in addition to work at over 7 area schools as a private teacher. Neil maintains an in-demand private studio working with students throughout the Puget Sound.
Currently residing in Eugene, Oregon, Jessika Smith (Jessie Smith, formerly Jessika Leek) finished her duties as a Graduate Teaching Fellow and graduated with her Master's Degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Oregon in June 2014. She is currently the director and coordinator of the Eugene Composer's Big Band. During her time at UO, Jessika played lead alto with the award-winning Oregon Jazz Ensemble, which toured Europe in the summer of 2014 and participated in the Montreux, Vienne, Umbria, and La Spezia Jazz Festivals. Jessika also plays frequently around the Eugene area with assorted jazz groups, and is teaching K-4 General Music at Prairie Mountain School. Jessika's private students have won principal chairs in honors groups including the Washington All-State Wind Ensemble, participated in regional and state-wide solo contests, and have won music scholarships for college. She has experience in many genres of music including jazz, classical, funk, rock, and Latin.
Steve Treseler is a Seattle-based saxophonist, teaching artist, and author. DownBeat calls his music “beautifully crafted ensemble pieces—whether free, through-composed, or somewhere in between.” The Kenny Wheeler Tribute Project that Steve leads with renowned trumpeter Ingrid Jensen was featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America.
Steve grew up in Edmonds, WA and began playing the clarinet in fifth grade band. He got serious about jazz in high school and performed up and down the West Coast with a youth “trad” jazz band. Steve continued his education on scholarship at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he studied with jazz legends Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Brookmeyer, George Garzone, and Steve Lacy. Steve holds a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Improvised Music from the University of Washington where he studied with avant-garde trumpeter Cuong Vu.
Steve performs and leads creative music workshops across the U.S. He teaches at Seattle Pacific University and is the founder of the Game Symphony Workshop, which helps musicians unlock creativity through group improvisation. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller Creativity Triggers for Musicians, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony, and the Creative Music Blog.
Steve has released two albums as a leader, Resonance (2008) and Center Song featuring Ingrid Jensen, which received a four-star review in DownBeat and made the magazine’s “Best Albums of 2014” list. In addition to leading his own group, Steve is a member of Wayne Horvitz’s Washington Composers Orchestra (WACO), the Tom Varner Nonet, Snow Line Project, Zubatto Syndicate, the Jessika Smith Big Band, the Phil Parisot Quartet, and James Falzone’s Renga Ensemble. He has shared the stage with jazz greats Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas, Bob Brookmeyer, Kenny Wheeler, Steve Swallow, Jamie Cullum, Geoffrey Keezer, and Mike Stern.
Steve is a Conn-Selmer endorsing artist. Visit stevetres.com
Ivan Arteaga is a saxophone and clarinet player in the Seattle area. He has recently completed a Masters degree in composition at the University of Washington, studying with Richard Karpen and Cuong Vu. Ivan has a background in jazz but is primarily involved in the creation and performance of new works by current musicians and composers. His playing and projects have spanned the worlds of contemporary art music, avant-pop, completely free-improvised works, and much in between. Ivan is also a founding musician and board member of the Seattle record label Table & Chairs launched in early 2011. Ivan is a regular contributor at The Royal Room in Columbia City, where he hosts the weekly Salute Sessions jam on Monday nights.