Meet Our Faculty

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Artist-in-Residence – Allison Miller
Artist-in-Residence – Derrick Hodge

Saxophone – Kasey Knudsen, Paul Contos
Trumpet – Kyle Athayde, Mike Galisatus
Trombone – Jeanne Geiger
Piano – Eddie Mendenhall
Drums – Matt Witek
Bass – Katie Thiroux
Guitar – Pat Kelley
Vocal Jazz – Gaw Vang


Kyle Athayde is a New York based composer, arranger, performer, teacher, and bandleader. A native of Orinda, California, Kyle plays vibraphone, piano, trumpet, and drums, bongos, congas, timbales, string bass, bass clarinet, sousaphone, and vocal percussion. He is the leader, conductor, and principal writer for the New York based big band, the Kyle Athayde Dance Party, a group acclaimed for its versatility in the wide scope of styles it performs, and is pianist for the New York Trumpet Ensemble.

Influenced by the music of J. S. Bach, Duke Ellington, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Eric Dolphy, Dmitri Shostakovich, Louis Armstrong, Igor Stravinsky, Charlie Parker, Olivier Messiaen, Art Tatum, and many others, Athayde composes and arranges music in a variety of genres, with an emphasis on jazz, classical, salsa, and electronic. While an undergraduate student at Juilliard, Kyle was heavily immersed in an inter-disciplinary arts environment which included dance, drama, and music, which provided him the opportunity to further develop and refine his programmatic approach to composition.  

Athayde’s recent commissioned compositions and premieres include a double concerto for the New York Sinfonietta, a tone poem for Bobby Sanabria and the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra (the title track of their most recent album, ¡Que Viva Harlem!), two pieces for choir and band for the University of Scranton’s performing ensembles, and music for the ending credits of the film Diller, Scofidio + Renfro: Reimagining Lincoln Center and the High Line. He also arranged the music for the halftime show for the University of California at Berkeley Marching Band in their final performance of the 2013 season. Kyle is currently working on commissions for the Canadian Brass, the New York Trumpet Ensemble, Manhattan School of Music Trumpet Ensemble, and the San Francisco Conservatory Brass Choir.

Committed to inter-disciplinary educational outreach in the arts, Kyle has offered classes, clinics, lessons and masterclasses at schools, workshops, and camps in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Alaska. A regular visiting faculty member of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, he recently developed and taught a class on video game music history and composition there, and directed the jazz band and a vocal hip hop class. He is the Director of Curriculum at the Lafayette Summer Music Workshop, and regularly offers clinics and masterclasses to middle school and high school bands throughout Northern California. 

Kyle has a wide range of interests, and loves to teach and learn about a variety of subjects, which brings a wide stylistic variety to his music, as his diverse interests inspire his work. A passionate fan of American football, the ruthless power and strategy of the sport influence his exciting writing style. An avid gamer, the music of these games has inspired some of his most unusual and engaging compositions.

PAUL CONTOS, saxophone

Since the 1970s, Paul Contos has been involved in jazz performance and education in the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally. He has mentored and taught an impressive roster of musicians through his work for the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Jazz Education Programs as saxophone clinician and director of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Monterey County High School All-Stars is distinguished. He has been an essential part of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Jazz Education Programs since their inception in 1984, and is active as a saxophone clinician, educator, and performer at various educational festivals, clinics, concerts, and workshops in the U.S., Japan, and Brazil. Contos is a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz, has taught at Monterey Peninsula College, and has developed the curriculum and pedagogy for the Music Recording/Technology Concentration at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. He received three performer grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as serving as Artist In Residence for the California Arts Council. He conducts, performs, and adjudicates at college and high school jazz competitions internationally, including Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival. In September 2009, Paul Contos was appointed as the Director of the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Orchestra.

An inspiration and active in the formation of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Contos has played with many world-renowned jazz artists such as Mundell Lowe, Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove, Jon Hendricks, Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Sheila Jordan, Ray Drummond, Eddie Marshall, Kenneth Nash, Vince Lateano, Madeline Eastman, Mark Levine, Rebeca Mauleón, Bruce Forman, Tee Carson, Dave Eshelman, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, the Heath Brothers, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Regina Carter, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, John Faddis, David “Fathead” Newman, and many others. He has recorded with Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, John Patitucci, Richie Beirach, Alan Broadbent, Terence Blanchard, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, John Abercrombie, and Alex Acuna.


Michael Galisatus is the Director of Bands at the College of San Mateo directing both the college big bands and the wind ensemble. He has been the recipient of various teaching honors including the CMEA Bay Section Outstanding Jazz Educator Award 2015-2016, the Peninsula Arts Council Arts Educator of the Year for 2007, the Otter Distributors 2004 Jazz Educator Award for the state of California, the California PTA Honorary Service Award, and the CMEA Bay Section Gil Freitas Memorial Award for music education. Prior to his appointment at the College of San Mateo, Michael was the band director at South San Francisco, El Camino, and Aragon High Schools. He currently holds the office of Jazz Representative for the California Music Educator’s Association, and is on the board of the California Alliance for Jazz. He is also a past president of the California Music Educator’s Association Bay Section.

Michael is in demand as an adjudicator throughout California, and has appeared as guest conductor for the CMEA Bay Section Conference Band, Hayward Unified School District High School Honor Band, The Elk Grove Unified School District High School Honor Band, The Stanislaus County Music Educators Association High School Honor Jazz Band, The San Mateo Union High School District Honor Jazz Band and Concert Bands, the Contra Cost County Honor Junior High School Honor Jazz Band, and the West Contra Costa County Honor High School Band.

As a freelance trumpeter in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michael has recorded with Pete Escovedo and Queen Ida, and has performed with a variety of artists, including Louis Bellson, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra Jr., Mary Wilson, Kenny Washington, Jamie Davis, Frankie Valli, Kenny Loggins, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Mel Torme, The Temptations, Michael Feinstein, and a host of others.


Jeanne Geiger, a Bay Area native, is proud to be a member of the music scene for over 20 years. She completed a B.A. in music performance (2002) and M.A. in music composition (2007) from California State University, East Bay. She has performed with numerous groups including: Sheila E., Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy, Deltron 3030, Lyrics Born, Green Day, Ozomatli, Joan Osborne, 10,000 Maniacs, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Gladys Knight, The Coup, The Dells, Roy Ayers, The O’Jays, Jazz Mafia, Dave Eshelman’s Jazz Garden Big Band, Ray Brown Great Big Band, Dave Brubeck Big Band, Maza Cote, Michael Feinstein Jazz Orchestra, Johnny Mathis Orchestra, JSoul, Brass Mafia, The Uptones, Dynamic, among many others. She has also toured and/or recorded with her current groups: Birdland All-Stars, Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy, Sheila E, Deltron 3030, and more.

Her compositions have been recorded and performed by schools such as CSU Fresno, Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College, Adam’s Middle School, and CSU East Bay. She has played for many different theatrical works including SHN’s Broadway productions of Anything Goes, A Chorus Line, Annie, White Christmas, as well as numerous Broadway productions for over 10 years with the Contra Costa Musical Theater Company.

Recent composing/arranging projects have included: Joan Osborne’s Soul Revue at Stern Grove, Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy: The Music of Steely Dan, Deltron 3030 Live Orchestra, Roy Ayers with the Jazz Mafia Symphony, Jazz Mafia Symphony (Emperor Norton Suite), Lyrics Born (Tribute to Curtis Mayfield & James Brown), Heartical Roots, Fay Carol with Adams Middle School, Zoe Presley with the Bay Area Composers Big Band. Other studio work has included Sekai No Owari produced by Dan the Automator, The New Broadway Cast Recording of A Chorus Line, Tiger Club, Rupa and the April Fishes, Anais Croze’s The Love Album produced by Dan the Automator, U-Roy, and Pinhead Gunpowder. She recently was an instructor of Jazz Trombone at CSU East Bay. Jeanne Geiger is the musician contractor, sheet-music arranger, librarian, and trombonist leading the Deltron 3030 orchestra.

DERRICK HODGE, Artist-in-Residence, bass

Two-time GRAMMY Award-winning bassist and Blue Note Recording Artist Derrick Hodge attended Temple University and was the first jazz major to participate in their Symphony and New Music Chamber orchestras. His wide range of accomplishments in many genres include orchestrations and arrangements for Nas with the National Symphony Orchestra, Common, and Kanye West. Hodge has won two R&B GRAMMYs with the Robert Glasper Experiment, and has co-produced albums with Quincy Jones and Don Was. Hodge has toured, performed or recorded with Maxwell, Kanye West, Herbie Hancock, Q-Tip, Mos Def, Timbaland, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Gerald Levert, Common, Bilal, Andre 3000, Sade, Terence Blanchard, Ledisi, Terell Stafford, Donald Byrd, Stefon Harris, and many others. For Blue Note, Hodge has released two albums, and he has written original music for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Chicago Brass Ensemble. Some of his many film score credits include Back to School Mom, the 180 Days documentary series for PBS, Land of Opportunity, Black Candle, and others. Hodge has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival multiple times over the years and represented MJF during the 50th Anniversary All-Stars’ national tour in 2008.

PAT KELLEY, guitar

Recognized for his signature touch, harmonic dexterity, bluesy melodies and sense of rhythm, guitarist Pat Kelley has enjoyed an extensive and successful career as a studio and touring musician, recording artist, composer, lyricist, producer, arranger, vocalist, recording engineer, publisher, and educator. He has now officially embraced the title of mentor. As an integral part of the Thornton School of Music Guitar faculty at the University of Southern California for the past 22 years, he has helped guide students to success as professional musicians. Pat also devotes time to preparing high school guitarists for college auditions. He has been the guitar faculty for the Monterey Jazz Festival Summer Jazz Camp for two years and the University of Tulsa Summer Jazz Camp for seven years. Two of Pat's books, Arpeggios for the Evolving Guitarist and Melodic Minor Guitar are part of the USC Thornton School of Music instructional series and are available from Mel Bay Publications.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Pat grew up playing with his Dad, other guitarists, singers, and bands from the age of five. After attending the University of Tulsa with a major in music composition, he moved to Southern California in the early 1970s where he has navigated the music business in Los Angeles, touring internationally and/or recording with George Benson, Natalie Cole, David Benoit, Jane Monheit, Hubert Laws, Ronnie Laws, Eric Marienthal, John Pisano, Mark Winkler, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Dave Brubeck, Gregg Karukas, Dave Koz, Bill Cantos, Tom Scott, Al Jarreau, Nickel Creek, CeCe Wynans, Melissa Manchester, Randy Crawford, Burt Bacharach, Olivia Newton John, Jose Feliciano, Carol Welsman, and many others.

Pat worked for nearly seven years as the house guitarist on the Merv Griffin Show, Pat Sajak Show, and the New Carol Burnett Show. Performances with symphony orchestras include San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Atlanta, Tulsa, Denver, San Antonio, Auckland, Nashville, Toledo, and the Asia America Symphony Orchestra. With a BMI catalogue containing more than of 150 compositions that have been commercially recorded for CDs, films, television, jingles, and music libraries, Pat's latest CDs feature collaborations with nine different guitarists (Overtones 4 Two Guitars), and five different singers (Sing Me Back Home). In 2003, Pat was honored in his home state by being inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, joining past inductees Chet Baker, Oscar Pettiford, Lester Young, Charlie Christian, and Barney Kessel.

KASEY KNUDSEN, saxophone

Kasey Knudsen is a San Francisco-based saxophonist, composer, and educator and leader of the KK Group, a septet focusing on original music and arrangements. She also co-leads the Permanent Wave Ensemble, an octet dedicated to performing and arranging the music of Carla Bley; the RW3 Trio along with Bay Area drummer Jon Arkin; and the Holly Martins with vocalist Lorin Benedict and guitarist Eric Vogler.

Kasey earned her BA in Jazz Composition from the Berklee College of Music where she was a featured composer for the Greg Hopkins Jazz Orchestra and the Joanne Langione Dance Company. She was commissioned by the Jazzschool’s 2005 Emerging Artist Series to write and perform a new work and in 2007, she was commissioned by Intersection For The Arts in collaboration with the De Young Museum to write and perform a piece inspired by the work of visual artist Deborah Oropallo.

Kasey can be seen performing with a number of ensembles and bandleaders including Evan Francis and Spaceheater, Tune-Yards, Lisa Mezzacappa, Ted-Brinkley’s Horn Blower Cruise Ship, Graham Connah, Nathan Clevenger, Aaron Novik’s Thorny Brocky, pianist Jarrett Cherner, Michael Coleman’s Schumann’s Humanns, the Bay Area Composer’s Collective Orchestra, guitarist Q Morrow, Rob Ewing’s Disappear Incompletely, and more. She has also shared the stage with the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, Realistic Orchestra, The Slip, Joe Bagale and the Dirty Workshop, Adam Shulman Group, the Industrial Jazz Group, Brass Bows and Beats, Terrence Brewer, Rova Saxophone Quartet’s Sax Cloud, and many others. Kasey teaches at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the Jazzschool in Berkeley, and the Young Musicians Program at UC Berkeley. She has also served as a judge and clinician at the Reno Jazz Festival. Read more about Kasey here.


Eddie Mendenhall is an exceptional pianist and composer who leads his own group and also has performed with “Senator” Eugene Wright, Ray Drummond, Pete Christlieb, Gary Meek, Manhattan Jazz Quintet, Ali Jackson Jr., Tommy Campbell, Calvin Keys, James Mahone, Enrique Iglesias, Peter Yellin, Virginia Mayhew, Paul Contos, Vince Lateano, Scott Steed, Steve Houghton, Mark Sherman, Akira Tana, John Schifflett, Dottie Dodgion, Mike Lent, and many more.

Eddie began studying piano when he was four years old, and by the time he was eight, he was performing the works of Schumann and Beethoven. He became hooked on jazz at the age of 13, when he attended the Monterey Jazz Festival. He earned a place in the Monterey Jazz Festival High School All-Star Band in 1989 and 1990, under the direction of Bill Berry, and performed with Dizzy Gillespie on the Arena Stage of the festival. Eddie earned scholarships to the Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated with a bachelors degree in Jazz Composition.

Spending the next seven years in Japan, Eddie rapidly became one of the busiest pianists in Tokyo. Along with several trips back to the states, performances ranged from jazz clubs, major hotels, touring around Japan and embassy parties.

Eddie has performed and recorded with Ray Brown’s Great Big Band and is featured the Ray’s 2010 CD, Kayak. Eddie’s compositions also include works ranging from solo piano to large ensemble. His exceptional writing is featured on Cosine Meets Tangent, Eddie’s 2011 debut recording as a leader on Miles High Records, and features vibraphonist Mark Sherman, drummer Akira Tana, and bassist John Schifflett.

ALLISON MILLER, Artist-in-Residence, drums

New York City-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Describedby critics as a “Modern Jazz Icon in the Making,” Miller has been named “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in DownBeat Magazine and her composition, “Otis Was a Polar Bear,” is included on NPR’s list of “The 200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women+.”

Miller, a three-time Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, is Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2019 Artist in Residence, alongside Derrick Hodge. Simultaneously her band, Boom Tic Boom, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the release of their fifth album, Glitter Wolf. NPR’s Kevin Whitehead says, “All the parts fit together like clockwork on Allison Miller's new album.” The band has toured extensively throughout the US, Europeand Asia as well as being featured on such programs as NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Tiny Desk with Bob Boilen, WNYC’s Soundcheck and New Sounds with John Schaefer, and Jazz Night in America with Christian McBride.

While breaking from leading Boom Tic Boom, Miller focuses on collaborations, co-directing Parlour Game with Jenny Scheinman and Science Fairwith Carmen Staaf. Science Fair’s debut release is included in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Jazz of 2018 list. Miller is also aproud member of the critically-acclaimed supergroup Artemis, and is the musical director for Camille A. Brown’s Ink.

As a side-musician, Miller has been the rhythmic force behind such artists as Sara Bareilles, Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, Brandi Carlile, Toshi Reagon, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Patricia Barber, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Allison, and Late Nightwith Seth Meyers.

Allison teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Stanford Jazz Workshop, and is the Artistic Director of Jazz Camp West. She has been appointed Arts Envoy to Thailand for her work with Jazz Education Abroad and endorses Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth heads, Evans drumheads, and Sunhouse percussion.


Rising star Katie Thiroux is a bassist, vocalist and composer. Coming from a musical family in Los Angeles, Katie began her career in music at age four on violin, and switched to bass at eight. By age 10, she was performing in principal vocal roles in the LA Opera and Opera Pacifica. She began studying privately with jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton at the age of 12, and in 2005, Thiroux began a mentorship with John Clayton. Among her many awards, she’s received the Shelly Manne New Talent from the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and in 2006, Katie was awarded the full-ride Phil Ramone Presidential Scholarship to Berklee College of Music. Thiroux was asked to teach abroad at the Berklee International School in Quito, Ecuador, and when she returned Los Angeles, she completed a masters of Jazz Bass from California State University of Long Beach on full scholarship in 2012. In 2015, Katie was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk Competition.

Thiroux carries on the hard-swinging tradition of such bass masters as Ray Brown and John Clayton, while channeling the buoyant vocal finesse of iconic singers including Anita O’Day, Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald. She has performed at jazz festivals in the United States, Mexico, Germany, Finland, Serbia, Singapore and Switzerland as both a leader and a sideman. In addition, Thiroux often incorporates workshops for students and audiences.

Her debut record, Introducing Katie Thiroux was released in 2015, and received many awards including "Debut Record of the Year" from the Huffington PostAll About Jazz, the Jazz Journalists Association and "Top 5 Debut Records of the Year" from the NPR Jazz Critics Poll. Katie’s latest recording, Off Beat, features pianist Justin Kauflin and drummer Matt Witek, as well as saxophonist Roger Neumann and saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Peplowski. It has already been cited by DownBeat as one of the “Best Albums of 2017.”


Originally from upstate New York, Matt Witek is a Los Angeles-based drummer. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2009, Witek furthered his studies by moving to Los Angeles to study under the tutelage of world-renown drummer Jeff Hamilton.  Along with Hamilton’s mentorship, Matt completed a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies on full scholarship at California State University Long Beach in 2012. Matt’s musical approach to drums has caught the attention of today’s most prolific musicians.

He has toured with John Pizzarelli Quartet, Ken Peplowski, Larry Fuller Trio, Justin Kauflin Trio, Graham Dechter Quartet, Katie Thiroux and worked with several artists that include John Clayton, Russell Malone, Ken Peplowski, Houston Person, Ralph Moore, Scott Hamilton, Eric Reed, Barbara Morrison, Harry Allen, James Morrison, Bucky Pizzarelli, Larry Koonse, Anthony Wilson, Shelly Berg, Tony Monaco, Tamir Hendelman, Bill Cunliffe, Rosanno Sportiello, Chuck Redd, and Ben Wolfe.

Matt had the pleasure of joining the rising star bassist and vocalist Katie Thiroux on her debut award winning album, Introducing Katie Thiroux. In 2015, he recorded albums for Capri Records pianist Mike Jones, flutist Lori Bell, pianist Mikan Zlatkovich, vocalist Steven Davis. He has also been called upon for numerous other recordings both in Los Angeles and New York City. His passion for drumming goes beyond the small group as he is becoming an in-demand big band drummer. Matt has performed with the Woody Herman Orchestra led by Frank Tiberi, Roger Neumann's "Rather Large Ensemble" and played for big band sessions at Capitol Studios.

Performance highlights include Monterey Jazz Festival, Iowa City Jazz Festival,  Juneau Jazz Festival, The Jazz Cruise, Marian's Jazz Room, North City Jazz Festival (Serbia), Musical Instrument Museum, Birdland, WBGO's "The Checkout", The Sidedoor, The Kitano, The Allen Room, Smalls Jazz Club, Earshot Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Sculler’s Jazz Club, Newport Beach Jazz Party, Catalina’s and more.


Gaw Vang Williams is a jazz-pop vocalist and educator native to Sacramento, California. She became the director of vocal jazz ensembles at Sacramento State in 2014, where she earned her Bachelors of Music in jazz studies and Masters of Music in vocal performance. Williams studied vocal jazz performance, voice pedagogy and arranging, and performed with the multiple DownBeat award-winning Sac State Jazz Singers and C-Sus. She began teaching in 2004, serving as a music instructor at VAPAC (Visual and Performing Arts Charter), C.K. McClatchy High School, Folsom High School, Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps and Sierra College. Williams was also a member of the mellophone section in the 2007 world champion Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. She also currently directs the Christian Brothers High School vocal jazz ensemble and is an active private music instructor. Williams has been working for several years as a vocal clinician, working with many middle school, high school and collegiate ensembles and served as an adjudicator for many music festivals.

Under Williams's direction, the Sac State Vocal Jazz program has won seven DownBeat Student Awards. In addition, the Sac State vocal jazz ensembles took first place consecutively in 2016 and 2017 at the Next Generation Monterey Jazz Festival in the collegiate vocal jazz ensemble category and performed at the 60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September 2017.

Williams has also started a non-profit organization call VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) for All, providing free music lessons and classes to socioeconomically disadvantaged students.