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Bethlehem, Pa., March 23, 2010— Neil Wetzel, director of jazz studies atMoravian College, recently released his debut solo CD “Misunderestimated,” from Hot Apple Spider Productions. In the works for two years, Wetzel’s CD features all original compositions that cover a variety of styles, from swing to salsa, and showcase his award-winning talent on jazz alto saxophone.
Wetzel covers a variety of styles from straight-ahead swing (Day Gig) to ballad with strings (First Dance) to contemporary smooth (An Inconsequential Life) to up-tempo bebop (Misunderestimated) and even to salsa (Rosalita d'el Fuego). The title "Misunderestimated" (an oft-quoted Bush-ism) is a tongue-in-cheek statement that Wetzel is not often underestimated. "This project has been a long time coming," says Neil, "and I'm extremely happy to be able to finally share this music with the public. I was very excited to record with these guys and the end result is more than gratifying."
Wetzel has been a regular on the Philadelphia music scene since the late 70's. Before earning a doctorate at Columbia University, he attended the Music Conservatory at the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts and started playing, touring and recording with some of the country’s best musicians. He has backed many great performers, including Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, and the Temptations.
Wetzel has toured and recorded while holding down the saxophone chair in the Eric Mintel Quartet, and he is currently a member of the Fras-Wilkins Quintet, a group made up of musicians from America and the Czech Republic. As a group member and solo musician, he has been a featured performer and guest clinician at festivals across the U.S. and in Europe. Over the years, Wetzel has appeared on many well-reviewed collaborative CDs, including 2004’s Introducing the Jazz Faculty at Moravian College, but Misunderestimated marks his debut solo outing.
As current director of jazz studies, Wetzel teaches saxophone, directs the Moravian College Big Band, and oversees the jazz studies program. He also founded and directs the College's summer music camp, which annually features many great contemporary jazz artists. He recently authored a text for teaching jazz to beginning level instrumentalists: Learning Jazz Language, which is being published by Northeastern Music Publications. His CD was produced with partial funding support from Moravian College’s Faculty Development and Research Committee (FDRC).
For sample tracks and purchasing information, visit his website at www.neilwetzel.com.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. For more information call (610) 861-1491 or visit the web site at www.moravian.edu.