Jazz Improvisation

Russ Becker- Flute, Clarinet, Jazz Improvisation, Chamber Ensembles, Clarinet Ensemble

Russ has been an active musician on the Connecticut music scene for many years. He has been a member of the Stamford Symphony, the Hartford Civic Orchestra, Radio Piece 3(progressive jazz/rock), Collectively Speaking (jazz), The Bob Hughes Big Band, and The Art Cellar Sax Quartet, as well as countless other ensembles covering a broad spectrum of musical genres. He currently performs regularly with the Russ Becker Quartet. Russ considers teaching his most important and rewarding musical endeavor, and loves working with students of all ages and skill levels. His middle school and high school students are always well represented in area regional and all-state ensembles. He believes in a warm, friendly, personalized and encouraging approach to teaching, and incorporates many aspects of the art of making and understanding music into his instrumental lessons.

Russ teaches on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Andrew Sherwood- Clarinet, Saxophone, Jazz Improvisation

Andy holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Ohio State University and a Master of Music from the University of Connecticut. He studied classical applied music with saxophonist James Hill at Ohio State and clarinetist Curt Blood at the University of Connecticut and jazz improvisation with renowned clarinetist Eddie Daniels and saxophonist Walt Weiskopf. He has a wide range of experience as a performer, especially during his 25 years in the U.S. Coast Guard Band. He performed as clarinetist and saxophonist in multiple ensembles with the Coast Guard Band including the concert band, Dixieland jazz band, saxophone quartet, swing band and big band. He led the Coast Guard Dixieland band for 15 years and also performed on classical tenor saxophone on band tours and on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Andy continues to perform locally and throughout the state with his own groups specializing in early jazz and swing, Dixieland, and jazz standards. He has released four recordings available on CD Baby with the “Andy Sherwood Dixieland Jazz Quartet.” www.andysherwoodclarinet.com

Andy teaches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Thomas Briggs- Piano, Percussion, Jazz Improvisation, Composition, Music Theory, Jazz Ensemble Director

Tom studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and received his BA in Music Education, Summa Cum Laude, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Tom retired in May ‘09 from the United States Coast Guard Band after 30 years of service. He was the principal percussionist, arranger/composer, and musical director of the Coast Guard Masters of Swing jazz septet. Tom is also an award-winning published composer. He has written and arranged many works for all types of musical ensembles, from symphonic winds to percussion, chamber groups and jazz ensembles. In the field of education, Tom has published a beginning-intermediate piano method book, two drum-set and two snare drum method books.

Tom is currently the Music Director at the Community Music School and has been a member of the faculty since 1985. He offers private instruction on piano, composition, percussion, drum-set, computer technology, and jazz piano and improvisation. Since 1996, Tom has directed the CMS Jazz Ensemble and has produced over 85 arrangements and compositions for the group.