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Associate Professor of Music (2005)
- B.M., M.A.T., University of the Arts
- Ed.D., Columbia University
Office: Hurd Campus, South Hall, Room 317
Areas of Research and/or Expertise
Jazz pedagogy; jazz saxophone performance; classical saxophone performance; jazz history; jazz improvisation; woodwind performance and pedagogy; music theory; ear-training.
Dr. Wetzel is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Moravian College; his duties include teaching saxophone, directing the Moravian College BIG Band, and overseeing the jazz studies program. He holds both a Bachelor of Music (Jazz) and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He received his EdD at Teacher's College, Columbia University; his studies there focused on learning theories and jazz pedagogy. His text for teaching jazz to beginners, Learning Jazz Language, will be released in 2010 by Northeastern Music Publications. As founder and music director of Moravian College’s summer music camp, July Jazz Getaway, Mr. Wetzel has worked and played with many jazz greats such as Clark Terry, Ravi Coltrane, Al Grey, Terrel Stafford, Milt Grayson, Stanley Turrentine, and Bobby Watson.
Dr. Wetzel has been featured performer and guest clinician at festivals in the U.S. and Europe. He has appeared as soloist at the PMEA Conference (2007 and 2008); and the IAJE Conference in Toronto (2003). He has also played and taught at the Lana Jazz Festival in Lana, Italy (2005) as well as the Karel Velebny Jazz Workshop in Frydlant, Czech Republic (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010). He has performed in many jazz clubs including: The Deerhead Inn (PA), Shanghai Jazz (NJ), Zanzibar Blue (Phila.), Agharta, U Maleho Glena, and Jazz Dock jazz clubs (all three in Prague, Czech Rep.).
As an ensemble director, Dr. Wetzel has been the guest director for The PMEA District 9 Jazz Band Fest big band (2001 and 2010) and the Berks All-Star High School Jazz Ensemble (2008). He has also led many workshops and clinics throughout Pennsylvania and abroad. He is in demand as an adjudicator for middle and high school jazz festivals.
He has backed many of the great performers in show business including: Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Bernadette Peters, Tommy Tune, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, the Temptations and the Four Tops. He has also appeared with the Philly Pops Orchestra including a performance with singer Patti Page in Carnegie Hall, which was recorded and released on CD by DRG records and won the 1999 Grammy for best Pop Traditional Performance. He can also be heard on four CD’s with jazz pianist Eric Mintel: Live, Hopscotch, Dynamo and Four on the Floor. Most recently he produced and performed on Introducing the Jazz Faculty at Moravian College, a CD featuring compositions written and performed by the Moravian College Jazz Faculty Ensemble. Most recently he played on the CD Simone on Simone (released on KochRecords) featuring the jazz singer, Simone with the Rob Stoneback Big Band.
Wetzel’s first CD as leader, Misunderestimated, was released in January 2010, and is available through his website: www.neilwetzel.com. The CD features original jazz compositions presented in a variety of textures, styles and instrumental combinations.
He has also recorded and toured with the Rosta Fras—Skip Wilkins IQ; the International Quintet. This group is made up of both American and Czech jazz musicians and has toured Central Europe and the US. The group’s first CD, Frydlant Nights, was recorded and released by the Czech Radio Prague label in 2010.
Jazz Sound for Classical Saxophonists, (2005), Teaching Music (vol. 12, no. 5), MENC (Music Educator’s National Conference).
Recent Activities of Note
- Neil Wetzel, associate professor of music and director of jazz studies, was guest conductor of two elite student groups this spring. On March 18-20, he directed the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators
Association) District 9 Jazz Band Festival held at Wyoming Seminary in Forty Fort, Pa. As director, he selected the repertoire, rehearsed the band, and led them in concert. The group of 20 student musicians, selected by audition, were chosen from a field that represented more than 50 high schools.
- Professor Wetzel also was guest conductor for the PMEA District 10 Elementary Band & Orchestra Festival held April 30 at Parkland High School. The concert band included more than 100 student musicians from grades 4-8, selected by music educators. The students were chosen from 25 different schools in PMEA District 10.
- In addition, Wetzel and Alan Gaumer (artist-lecturer, jazz trumpet) participated in the 2010 Easton Area High School Jazz Band Festival, April 10, 2010. The two led a jazz clinic, judged about a dozen high school jazz bands, and appeared as featured soloists. They also worked with the Easton Area High School Jazz Band to coordinate and institute the first high school jazz band concert held at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem. Wetzel and Gaumer were guest soloists at the concert.
- February 5-14 Wetzel toured the Middle Atlantic States with the Rosta Fras‹Skip Wilkins IQ; the International Quintet. This group is made up of both American and Czech jazz musicians and has toured Central Europe and the US. The tour was used to promote the quintet¹s first CD, "Frydlant Nights," recorded and released by the Czech Radio Prague label in 2010.
- A new jazz CD by Neil Wetzel, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies, has been released by Hot Apple Spider Productions. Misunderestimated, Dr. Wetzel's first CD recording as a solo artist, includes a wide range of jazz styles and original compositions and features many world-class musicians. More information and audio samples are available at his new website neilwetzel.com.
- On October 9, Neil Wetzel, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies, Tony Gairo, artist lecturer, and five Moravian College students led a session at the 2009 Delaware Music Educators Association (DMEA) in-service day. Together, they formulated and led "From an Adjudicators Point of View: The Jazz Band Saxophone Section." Student participants included Courtney Eby '10, student director of the Moravian College Big Band, Jesse Renner '11, Robbie Brown '11, Steve Inghram '10, and Christina Bonavita '11. The Moravian group was selected through a peer review process to present the clinic to professional music educators from the state of Delaware.
- Neil Wetzel, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies, presented a session at the 2009 PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Conference held at the Valley Forge Convention Center, April 22-25, 2009. His session was "The Saxophone Section in the Jazz Ensemble." Assisting in the session were several Moravian College students: Robbie Brown '11, Jessie Renner '10, J. Steve Inghram '10, Matt Gibson '12, and Angel Molina '11. The session was on rehearsing tips and addressing problems music educators encounter in jazz ensemble rehearsals.