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Professor Dave Schroeder working with Jazz summer students

Alumni in Action

Jazz Studies

NYU jazz alumna Elsa Nillson posing with instrument

Elsa Nilsson (MM `12)

Since graduating, Elsa Nilsson has released six albums as a bandleader and three as a co-leader and collaborator. These have received acclaim in publications including Downbeat, Jazziz and All About Jazz, where she was lauded as "the logical next step for her instrument in improvised music" by Paul Rauch.

In 2018, she released a book about rhythm titled “Between The Beats” that has been shared as a masterclass at universities in the US and Europe. Nilsson teaches Rhythmic Analysis and Socially Engaged Artistry at The New School for Performing Arts as an Adjunct Professor.

She is a recipient of the 2022 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant for her piece “Pulses,” exploring the relationship between jazz and language through the voice of Dr Maya Angelou, premiereing at National Sawdust October 6, 2023. She is the winner of the 2018 NFA Jazz Flute Competition.

Jazz alum Tito Vollbrecht

Timo Vollbrecht (PhD `21)

Timo Vollbrecht is a New York-based saxophonist, composer, teacher, and scholar, originally from Germany. His music combines jazz with elements of post-rock, electro-acoustic soundscapes, and new music. With his band Fly Magic he has toured more than 30 countries and recorded numerous albums. He performs with established artists including Theo Bleckmann, Ben Monder, and Ralph Alessi as well as with a range of emerging musicians in an array of styles. 

He has appeared on landmark stages like the Village Vanguard and Winter Jazz Fest. NYC Jazz Record describes Timo as a “luminously-fine” saxophonist whose music is “blessed with rhythmic fluidity and intricate twists.” At NYU Jazz Studies, Timo completed both his Master's and Ph.D. with a dissertation that investigates the artistic process of ECM producer Manfred Eicher in the recording studio. 

After graduating, Timo went on to become the Director of Jazz Studies at Brown University where he leads the Brown Jazz Band and teaches a variety of classes. His interests lie at the intersection of disciplines, genre, and different creative outlets.

NYU Jazz alum.Gui Duvignau

Gui Duvignau (MM `20)

Gui Duvignau is a French-Brazilian bassist and composer based in Brooklyn, NY. His music has been featured on radios across the world, in playlists on Apple Music and Spotify, and in publications such as, The New York Times, JazzTimes, Jazziz, Jazz Magazine, Jazz News, All About Jazz, among others.

His latest albums 3,5,8, and Baden - a tribute to legendary Brazilian musician Baden Powell featuring special guests Ron Carter and Bill Frisell - were released on Sunnyside Records in 2021 and 2022 respectively. His album Live in Red Hook, featuring Jacob Sacks and Nathan Ellman-bell will be released in January 2024. He is the author of From the bottom Up published by Ron Carter Books (U.S.A - 2020) and by Editora Tipografia Musical (Brazil - 2023) as De Baixo Para Cima. He is also a dedicated teacher and has been a faculty member for the last three editions of the NYU Steinhardt Summer Jazz Improv & Composition Workshop.

NYU Jazz performer Steven Feifke holding his grammy

Steven Feifke (BM `13)

Steven Feifke is a Grammy Award-winning bandleader, composer, and arranger and is one of the most in-demand jazz artists in the world today. He has been interviewed on FOX, NBC, and CBS, and was heralded a "masterful pianist" by JAZZIZ Magazine. DownBeat Magazine calls his music "an air of infectious joy."

He is a Yamaha Performing Artist, an Avid Sibelius Artist, and has appeared on over 40 albums to date. He has written music for TV shows like The Masked Singer, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Impractical Jokers, Animaniacs, as well as for many world class big bands and orchestras around the globe.

Berklee College Of Music hired him as a professor of Harmony and Jazz Composition, and he has also been invited to give guest lectures and Artist in Residencies at institutions such as Yale University, Jazz At Lincoln Center, New York University, UT Austin, Northern Illinois University, and more.

NYU jazz alumna Marta Sanchez

Marta Sanchez (MM `12)

Steinhardt graduate, Marta Sanchez has recorded and released four records with her quintet: 'Partenika' (2015), 'Danza Imposible' (2017), 'El Rayo de Luz' (2019), and 'SAAM' (Spanish American Art Museum) (2022). 'Partenika' and 'El Rayo de Luz,' were selected by The New York Times as among the best 10 records of the year.

Her music has been featured in diverse media including Downbeat, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR, Fresh Air. Additionally, her quintet has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in New York, including Dizzy’s Jazz Club, Blue Note, Smoke, Roulette, Smalls, and Mezzrow. Sanchez and her band have been touring in Europe and performing at events such as the Winter Jazz Festival, Vitoria Gasteiz Jazz Festival, and Madrid Jazz Festival.

She played at The Village Vanguard as a member of the David Murray Quartet and has shared the stage with some of her teachers at NYU, including Ralph Alessi, Chris Potter, Brad Shepik, and Rich Perry.

NYU Jazz alum Vinicius Gomes

Vinicius Gomes (AD '20)

São Paulo born and New York based guitarist/composer, Vinicius Gomes explores the dialogue between modern jazz and Brazilian music, as registered on his debut album, Resiliência, Changes in collaboration with spanish saxophonist Santi De la Rubia and the most recent release "HOME" in duo with Korean singer Song Yi Jeon. 

His career includes collaborations with Mexican singer/composer Magos Herrera, recording her latest album Aire, Grammy Award-winner drummer Edu Ribeiro’s trio, recording the album News, drummer Duduka da Fonseca, recording his latest album Quarteto Universal, pianist/composer Guillermo Klein, pianist/composer Jon Cowherd, saxophonist Seamus Blake, Cuban singer Melvis Santa Brazilian accordionist Toninho Ferragutti (recording two albums including the Brazilian Music award winner A Gata Café, Arthur Verocai (including his latest US tour) Zizi Possi (as a guitarist and musical director), orchestras, including São Paulo State Symphony (OSESP), Orlando Symphony and many others. Vinicius is a collaborator in more than 30 records by artists worldwide. Vinicius has a master’s degree from the University of São Paulo, Artist Diploma from New York University and was part of the Focus Year Program in Basel (Switzerland).

Jazz alum Ricardo Grilli

Ricardo Grilli (MM `14)

Ricardo Grilli, is a Brazilian guitarist with a master's degree in Jazz Studies. Since receiving his degree, he has released three albums: If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, 1954 and 1962. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Downbeat Magazine, Jazziz, Jazz Life (Japan), Jazz Forum (Germany) and many more. Ricardo has headlined at clubs including The Blue Note, Smalls Jazz Club, The 55 Bar, Scullers, The Iridium, Mezzrow, The Rex (Toronto) and others. He’s performed and/or recorded with Mark Turner, Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Aaron Parks, Joe Martin, Taylor Eigsti, Kevin Hays, Peter Bernstein and others. He feels very fortunate to work on music that he loves and looks forward to the next adventures, challenges and opportunities New York holds in store.

NYU Jazz Alumna Mareike Wiening

Mareike Wiening (MM `14)

Drummer and composer Mareike Wiening is based in Cologne, Germany after living in New York City for six years. In addition to her jazz projects in New York and Europe, she's been a jazz drum instructor at Zurich University of the Arts since 2022. Her quintet with Rich Perry, Glenn Zaleski, Alex Goodman, and Johannes Felscher received a nomination for Band of the Year at the 2022 German Jazz Awards.

Her third album as a band leader will be released on Dave Douglas's Greenleaf Music in 2023. JazzTimes enthuses, "Wiening has truly established a transatlantic jazz project. Each of her songs is a complete, sophisticated, and elegant piece of art."

A native German, Wiening received her bachelor of music degree from the University of Performing Arts Mannheim and the Rhythmic Conservatory of Music Copenhagen. She received her master of music degree from the University of Performing Arts Mannheim and NYU Steinhardt. Since 2022 she's been a lecturer for jazz drums at the University for Music and Art in Zurich, Switzerland.

Jazz alum Glenn Zaleski

Glenn Zaleski (MM `10)

Glenn Zaleski is one of the most in-demand pianists on the New York City jazz scene. Originally from Boylston, MA, Glenn has made a name for himself playing with the likes of Ravi Coltrane, Cécile McLorin Salvant, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Yotam Silberstein, Ken Peplowski, Lage Lund, Ari Hoenig, and many more. He has released nine albums as a leader/co-leader. His latest album is Solo Vol. 2, a solo album of standards recorded during the pandemic, and the second from his own label Stark Terrace Music. His previous release, The Question, from July 2020, was released on Sunnyside Records, and features his quintet. From this album, his original “BK Bossa Nova” has nearly two million plays on Apple Music. "Live at Jazz Standard" (Capri 2019), features his long-standing co-led trio, Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato, in a live set performed at the legendary NYC club. In 2017, he released his second album for Sunnyside Records, Fellowship, prompting All About Jazz to note, "Glenn Zaleski has quickly become one of the most important pianists of his generation and it's easy to see why.”

Alumni in the News

Benjamín Schnake is a musician, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and educator. A versatile musician based in NYC over the past 6 years and NYU Jazz Studies alumni (MM `19), Schnake will be performing as a guest artist for Michael Bard debut concert at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall on Sat., Nov 4, 2023 at 8 PM, in honor of Veterans Day. The performance includes works of Bach, Granados, Tárrega, Spanish and Italian masters, and the world premiere of Bard’s original composition, “Mediterranean Beauty,” accompanied by Schnake in guitar, as well as featuring Schnake performing charango in the piece “Subida” by Ernesto Cavour. Other guests include Army veteran Jesus Hernandez, tenor, and Aurora Dainer, soprano, joining Bard in Italian opera, and Brazilian and Spanish vocal selections. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Veterans Repertory Theater Company of New York, a nonprofit that brings talented veterans and world-class playwrights, directors, choreographers and performers together to create compelling live theater. TICKETS