Several years ago, the Society ended the long tradition of having the NJJS annual jazz studies scholarship winners play the opening set of the Pee Wee Russell Stomp. Since then the young players have been given a slot at one of the monthly Jazz Socials (which are made possible, in part, by a grant from Morris Arts and the NJ State Council on the Arts) at Shanghai Jazz. It’s been a win-win for the players and listeners alike.
While the NJJS provides the funds for the annual scholarships, it is the jazz studies directors and their staffs at the different universities who select the student recipients. A total of $7,900 was awarded to the 2017 group. For the first time, the scholarship program included students from the Montclair State University Jazz Studies Program. Under the leadership of Jeff Kunkel, the program has been in existence for ten years.
Justin Jones, Alto Saxophone, William Paterson University (Jack Stine Scholarship). Justin is from Edison and graduated from JP Stevens High School under the tutelage of Jazz Director Andrew DeNicola. He is a transfer student who began his undergrad studies at Rutgers University.
Patrick Higgins, Baritone Saxophone, Rowan University (Bill Walters Scholarship). Patrick is a graduating Senior at Rowan after studying with Jazz Studies Director Denis Deblasio, and hails from Willow Grove, PA.
Dhalil Sadiq, Trumpet, Montclair State University (NJ Jazz Society Board of Directors Scholarship). Dhalil is from Pennsauken and attended the Moorestown Friends School in Moorestown, New Jersey.
Galo Inga, Piano, Montclair State University (NJ Jazz Society Board of Directors Scholarship). Galo hails from Newark and is a graduate of Arts High School.
Ian Heisler, Bass, New Jersey City University (Don Robertson Scholarship). Ian is from Andover, New Jersey and is a graduate of Newton High School.
Michael Yaw, Drums, New Jersey City University (Don Robertson Scholarship). Michael’s hometown is Sparta and he attended Sparta High School.
Pablo Hernandez, Saxophone, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (Pee Wee Russell Scholarship).
Vocalist Emily Zapata is a recent Montclair State University Jazz Studies graduate, and joined the ensemble to lend her vocal skills.