The New Jersey Jazz Society presented scholarships to several outstanding jazz students at the 43rd Annual 2012 Pee Wee Russell Memorial Stomp. Posing after their performance at the Stomp at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany on March 4, 2012 are (from left): Marcell Bellinger (New Jersey City University), pianist Billy Test (accompanist, not scholarship winner), Melissa Meehan (Rowan University), William Macirowski (Rutgers University), and Errold Lanier, Jr. (William Paterson University). Photo by Tony Mottola.
Marcell Bellinger, Trumpet, New Jersey City University (Don Robertson Scholarship). A graduate of Stroudsburg High in Pennsylvania, Marcell as a junior high student started out hearing players like Dave Liebman and Urbie Green at the Deer Head Inn and at the Delaware Water Gap Festival held every September. He’s come full circle and has shared the same stage as those players for the past few Water Gap festivals. Marcell has attended Temple University as an undergrad and is set to graduate New Jersey City’s Master of Music program in May. He credits his Temple instructor and trumpeter Terell Stafford and trumpeter Joe Magnarelli at New Jersey City.
Melissa Meehan, Vocals, Rowan University (Bill Walters Scholarship). Rowan is not Melissa’s first collegiate jazz studies program — she attended SUNY New Paltz as an undergrad. Her mother inspired her to sing and her brother got her started on guitar. She has toured Europe with her Washington Township High School choir. She gives a public thanks to her trio of professors from the Rowan University Jazz Studies program: Denis Di Blasio, Douglas Mapp and George Rabbai. In all the years that this ensemble of scholarship winners has performed as the opening act at the Pee Wee Stomp, Melissa is the first vocalist to be included in the group.
William Macirowski, Bass, Rutgers University (New Jersey Jazz Society Scholarship). Will is from Spotswood and is now a graduate assistant for the Rutgers Jazz Studies program. He began music lessons at age 6 and picked up the bass at age 12. His travels with the Rutgers Jazz Ensemble have taken him to the Blue Note and to Symphony Space in New York City, and to the studios of WBGO. Will comes from a musical family and follows his older brother at Rutgers, who is now leading young musicians in the Nutley public schools. And he credits a long list of inspirational Rutgers faculty people — among them fellow bass players Mike Richmond, Kenny Davis and Joe Macaro.
Errold Lanier, Jr., Drums, William Paterson University (Jack Stine Scholarship). Errold is a graduate of McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, is a sophomore undergrad at William Paterson. He is enjoying his immersion in William Paterson’s jazz studies program and credits professor Mulgrew Miller and percussion instructor Horace Arnold as major inspirations, along with his dad, Errold Lanier, Sr., high school music teacher Larry Puentes, and drummer Ned Stroh.