Valley Jazz Cooperative Director, pianist
As a performer, conductor, composer, and educator, Russell Schmidt has been collaborating with world-class musicians while also shaping future artists for nearly three decades. A deeply creative pianist, he has shared the stage with such celebrated performers as Carl Allen, Eddie Daniels, John Hollenbeck, Gerry Mulligan, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry, and Frank Vignola. Highlights in his discography include The Surprise of Being – Live at Birdland, by the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra featuring saxophonist Joe Lovano, and Anachromysticism, a release by Russell’s own quintet, showcasing his wide-ranging efforts as a jazz composer, with eleven original works presented in two different release formats: CD and vinyl (double-LP). Recent featured performances include an appearance as guest soloist with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble at an alumni concert tribute to famed jazz pedagogue Rayburn Wright and a Carnegie Hall concert with Caleb Chapman’s Crescent Super Band for the premiere of Russell’s big band composition, Percolate(r). Additionally, he has served as a keyboard soloist with more than 30 professional orchestras, including performances with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center and the San Francisco Symphony.
Russell served as Artistic Director of the Toledo Jazz Orchestra for five years, collaborating with guest artists including Terence Blanchard, Ken Peplowski, and Humberto Ramirez. As a composer and arranger, he has written for artists as varied as saxophonists Bob Berg and Michael Brecker, the Ying String Quartet, and the chamber music group Rhythm & Brass. His works as a composer/arranger have been released by Advance Music, GIA Publications, and the Penfield Commission Project. In June 2013, the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra premiered Russell’s jazz ensemble composition, Patience, at the annual Utah Arts Festival. The piece resulted from his being named recipient of the 2013 UAF Jazz Composition Commission.
After a long, distinguished career in academia, Russell joined Music Serving the Word Ministries in June 2014 as Coordinator of Education and Keyboardist. In early 2016, he spearheaded the creation of MSW’s Valley Jazz Cooperative program, which he currently directs. Previously, Russell served as Director of Jazz Studies at Bowling Green State University and the University of Utah. He also held faculty appointments at Northern Arizona University, the University of North Carolina–Asheville, and the Eastman School of Music, where he co-conducted the Eastman Studio Orchestra. A student of Rayburn Wright, Russell holds two degrees from Eastman.
Valley Jazz Cooperative Ensemble Director, saxophonist
Paul Brewer, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, loves performing jazz, rock, soul, funk, Latin, and classical music styles. As a saxophonist, he has had the opportunity to perform with such artists as the Temptations, the Four Tops, Doc Severinsen, Diana Ross, the Phoenix Symphony, Michael Bublé, David Foster, Frankie Valli, and Renee Olstead. Paul has also worked as an Artist-in-Residence for the Peoria and Roosevelt School Districts and served on the board of the Arizona Association for Jazz Education.
He earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Northern Arizona University, and later earned his Master’s degree in Music Education with emphasis in Jazz Studies from Arizona State University. As an educator himself, Paul has taught music at Barry Goldwater, Paradise Valley, and Marcos de Niza High Schools as well as Scottsdale Community College. Currently, Paul is the Director of Jazz Studies at Mesa Community College. In December 2018, he joined the Valley Jazz Cooperative team as the Director of the EVJC Sapphire Ensemble.
Valley Jazz Cooperative Clinician, drummer
A graduate of Arizona State University’s School of Music, Rob Moore has been working as a free-lance professional drummer in the Metro-Phoenix area for the past 18 years. His work experience also includes a stint with Yamaha Pro-Audio. More recently, Rob served as Adjunct Faculty at Scottsdale Community College where he taught drum set and directed small jazz ensembles.
Rob now works for Music Serving the Word as its resident audio engineer and drummer for live events and various recording projects. He also enjoys a close collaboration with MSW’s Visual Media area, with which he developed the innovative electronic music score for Incarnate.
Rob continues to perform with various musicians and groups in the community, including the Inner Journeys Trio, led by pianist Bob Ravenscroft. Among his more recent recordings are Jazz Hymns, by Bass x 2 + 1, featuring Vicki McDermitt, Anachromysticism by the Russell Schmidt Quintet, and the Inner Journeys Trio release Into The Unknown, Not Alone.
Occasional guest artists, such as trumpeter/ASU faculty member Denny Monce, will support Valley Jazz Cooperative educational activities through presentations and clinics. Stay tuned for announcements about these appearances.