MPH Apply Now

Noah Kellman starts Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation student alumni association

Back home in Syracuse for the summer, SUNY Purchase arts management major Noah Kellman found the perfect internship.

Kellman pitched the idea to Larry Luttinger, executive director of the Central New York Jazz Arts Foundation. Luttinger loved it.

For the past couple of months, Kellman, a pianist and composer, has been working to establish the student CNY Jazz Alumni Association. He’s inviting everybody who’s in CNY Jazz’s data base because they’ve participated in the organization’s scholastic education workshops since its 1997 inception.

What sold Luttinger?

“The fact that the most distinguished graduate came to us with the idea,” he says of Kellman.

Kellman has that honor by becoming a Brubeck Fellow after his 2009 graduation from Manlius Pebble Hill School, attending the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, Calif., and transferring to SUNY Purchase, where he’ll start his senior year in a month. The Brubeck Institute, founded by jazz legend Dave Brubeck, gives out just a handful of fellowships each year.

“We knew we had a good legacy, with a lot of students who went on (to continue playing),” Luttinger said. “But being a small organization, we didn’t have the wherewithal to go about this.”

Kellman had the time, inclination and social media skills. He’s receiving college credit for the internship, too.

He started a CNY Jazz student alumni group on Facebook and sent an invitation to 500 former or current students.

About 200 people joined the group.

The first get-together will come Saturday during the Great Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival in Clinton Square. Students are invited to join former instructors from the Central New York Jazz Orchestra from 1 to 5 p.m. in the World Beat Pavilion.

Professional musicians Rick Montalbano, Joe Colombo, Jimmy Johns and John Rhode have said they’ll try to be there.

Thirty students have told Kellman via Facebook that they’ll be there to mingle and jam. He says he’ll make more calls to recruit up to the last minute.

Among those who’ve said yes are Andrew Frederichs, who is working on a master’s degree in trombone studies at the University of Miami as a fellow in its Mancini Institute; August Cook, who also return for his senior year at SUNY Purchase to get his jazz saxophone studies degree; and William Hotaling, who is studying saxophone at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and also is an intern at CNY Jazz this summer. Also coming are Daniel Pugh, a pianist, and Jared Mulcahy, a bass player, who both attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

And, of course, there’s Nick Frenay, the trumpet player who was Kellman’s closest friend at Manlius Pebble Hill as well as a Brubeck Fellow and now a presidential scholar at Berklee.

Kellman says the mission of the alumni association will be to keep members aware of performance and educational opportunities.

“There’s been a community force to keep in touch, but never anything official,” Kellman says.

Kellman has set up a board that includes Joe Frateschi, who is studying law at Syracuse University; David Carpenter, who is studying music at SU; and Chelsea Henning, a rising high school senior.

“Our long-term goal is to establish ways to bring alumni together and to bring them opportunities to stay connected, make new connections and have experiences that they wouldn’t get otherwise,” Kellman says.

Luttinger says he sees the effects of CNYJAF educational programs. He smiles when he recalls the early scholastic jazz jams at the since-closed Happy Endings Cake and Coffeehouse on South Clinton Street.

“When we started the jazz orchestra, we looked around and there were no younger jazz musicians ready to replace us,” he says. “I’m very proud of the 10-plus years of educational workshops. Now we’re seeing young people come back (after college) to live and work.”

He and Kellman pointed out drummer Greg Evans, bass player Spencer Murphy, trombonist Melissa Gardiner, keyboardist Andrew Carroll, bassist Ian Stewart, clarinetist Bob Lawler, percussionist Preyas Roy, guitarist Tom Bronzetti and his vocalist sister, Alicia Bronzetti, as those who have gone through the CNYJAF programs and are continuing with their musical success.

“There are so many musicians (who went to the CNYJAF programs) who’ve gone on to great things,” Kellman says. “That’s all because of this organization. And that’s as important to know about as who’s playing (on the main stage) of the festival.”

Here’s a video of Kellman and Frenay peforming as students at Manlius Pebble Hill School, before their trip to Los Angeles to play with the Grammy Awards’ scholastic jazz band.

See video here