2019 Vail Jazz Workshop

The Vail Jazz Workshop, among the longest-running programs of its kind, brings the next generation of jazz torchbearers together for a meeting of the minds facilitated by some of today’s greatest jazz educators and players. Each year, a dozen of North America’s most dedicated, gifted and promising young jazz musicians are chosen from a broad field of talented applicants, receiving scholarships to participate in the 10-day Vail Jazz Workshop.

Organized in conjunction with the Vail Jazz Party, this highly regarded program is now in its 24th year, having mentored 274 high school-aged musicians since its inception. By anecdote, reputation, and word-of-mouth—from students and professionals alike—the 12 annual slots at the Vail Jazz Workshop are among the most coveted music scholarships for pre-college jazz musicians.

Alumni have garnered recognition at all levels of the music industry: from Downbeat Student Awards to Grammy’s, from Essentially Ellington’s Outstanding soloist Awards to Emmys. Alumni of the Workshop have contributed to over 100 Grammy nominated projects, headline major festivals across the world, and regularly give masterclasses and lessons to the next generation of jazz musicians

Below is the next generation of Vail Jazz Workshop students:

Ethan Avery- Trumpet

Born to a musical family in West Hills, California, Ethan picked up the trumpet in 6th grade and after a summer jazz program he was hooked for life. Inspired by both traditional players like Wynton Marsalis and those with a more avant-garde style like Peter Evans, Ethan is a voracious listener. He received one of this year’s Downbeat High School Soloist Awards and was one of three jazz finalists at the 2019 International Trumpet Guild. Ethan is excited to learn from the Workshop Faculty, especially Terell Stafford.

Natalie Barbieri- Alto Saxophone

At the age of 3, Natalie started taking classical piano lessons picking up the clarinet and saxophone at 10 and 11, respectively. Inspired by greats like Phil Woods, Cannonball Adderley, and Art Pepper, she regularly attends local jam sessions and gigs. Natalie enjoys sharing music with others, playing for free in public and teaching young children about music. She is enthusiastic about being in an immersive workshop environment and meeting other musicians who share her passion.

Nico Colucci- Tenor Saxophone

Nico describes himself as “a kid who’s seizing as many opportunities as possible” and in his three years playing jazz he has definitely done that. His main instrument is the tenor saxophone but he also plays alto, bari, and clarinet. Nico is inspired by Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (an alumni of the 2007 Vail Jazz Workshop). Nico is excited to ‘soak up’ ideas from the faculty and other students at this year’s Workshop.

Benny Conn- Trombone

Growing up in the Thousand Oaks area of California, Benny is a student of Ira Nepus, lead trombonist in the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Benny has played in the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra, Conejo Valley Community Jazz Band, and regularly plays gigs around the area with his combo, Quintessence. Inspired by the control and versatility of trombonists like Frank Rosolino, Benny hopes to improve his technical ability to the point where his technique never holds him back.

Seth Finch- Piano

Born in Baton Rouge, Seth began taking classical piano lessons at the age of 5 before switching to jazz at 10. Some of his first experiences with the genre were the funk-fusion of Herbie Hancock and Weather Report. Oscar Peterson was his first exposure to swing and the great american songbook and it left him hooked. Seth toured internationally with the NYO Jazz orchestra last summer and gigs locally playing hard bop and modern jazz arrangements in a trio setting. While at the Workshop, Seth hopes to hone his skills as a rhythm section player.

Gavin Gray- Bass

Gavin picked up the bass at the age of seven and has been hooked ever since. Classically trained on bass as well as piano, he has a theoretical and lyrical approach to bass playing. Inspired by Jimmy Blanton, of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Gavin knows that the sign of a quality bass player is the ability to make the rest of the ensemble sound good. Gavin looks forward to working with the faculty and other students in a smaller group setting, something not offered by other jazz honors programs

Anton Kot- Drums

Drumming from a young age, Anton has always had a curiosity about the different musical languages that are incorporated in jazz. Anton also admires classical music and was one of only five students selected for intensive advanced studies with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. He believes he will pursue music in higher education and wants to surround himself with musicians better than himself. Anton is looking forward to learning new jazz concepts and becoming a better musical citizen.

Jett Lim- Trombone

Based in Richmond California, Jett started playing trombone at the age of 9 and has been in bands for almost a decade. A veteran member of Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz group, he has also played in the SFJazz all-star big band and combo. Jett has been inspired by the virtuosic playing of J.J. Johnson from a young age, even before he started playing trombone! He also admires the fluid vocabulary of Frank Rosolino and Carl Fontana. Jett’s goals for the workshop are to meet other musicians his age and improve his soloing by drawing on energy from the audience.

Max Nierlich- Trumpet

Born and raised in Berkeley, California, Max Nierlich has studied trumpet privately for 8 years. Max earned first place in the 2018 Jazz Search West, a regional talent competition culminating in a performance at Yoshi’s Oakland. He plays in the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, and has participated in the Monterey Next General Jazz Festival. Max is inspired by the technicality of players like Clifford Brown and the lyricism of others like Chet Baker. He considers music a sanctuary and is excited to create lifelong connections with his fellow workshop classmates.

Joey Ranieri- Bass

Joey Ranieri is a bassist from Chicago who plays in the styles of bassist such as Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Sam Jones as well as many other great bassist that have made contributions to the Jazz medium. He began to seriously study bass in eighth grade, and quickly became amazed by the creative and controlling aspect of the instrument in a Jazz setting. He has played as part of the Emmet Cohen Trio and the Veronica Swift Band. Joey hopes to play with more authenticity after the workshop.

Miguel Russell- Drums

Born in New York, Miguel’s family moved to South Florida when he was 7 years old. He prides himself on his versatility, playing everything from traditional New Orleans jazz to the more modern idiom. Miguel plays with his own trio as well as with adult professionals. He performed on a release by the great flautist Nestor Torres, which was nominated for a Latin Grammy. Miguel is excited to meet people his own age that share his passions for jazz and world music.

Vittorio Stropoli- Piano

Born and raised in New York City, Vittorio started the Suzuki program at the age of three. Since then, music has always been an integral part of his life. Vittorio consumes all subgenres of jazz: from Fletcher Henderson to Charlie Parker, Jelly Roll Morton to Herbie Hancock. He aspires to bridge the gap between jazz and other genres like Robert Glasper (an alumni of the 1997 Workshop). Vittorio plans on taking full advantage of the collective knowledge of the faculty and other students.