Dr. Neil Wetzel - Bio

Dr. Wetzel is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Moravian College; his duties include teaching saxophone, directing the Moravian College BIG Band, and overseeing the jazz studies program. He holds both a Bachelor of Music (Jazz) and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He received his EdD at Teacher’s College, Columbia University; his studies there focused on learning theories and jazz pedagogy. His text for teaching jazz to beginners, Learning Jazz Language, is scheduled for release sometime in 2015 by Northeastern Music Publications. As founder and music director of Moravian College’s summer music camp, July Jazz Getaway, Mr. Wetzel has worked and played with many jazz greats such as Clark Terry, Ravi Coltrane, Al Grey, Terrel Stafford, Milt Grayson, Stanley Turrentine, and Bobby Watson.

Dr. Wetzel has been featured performer and guest clinician at festivals in the U.S. and Europe. He has appeared as soloist at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Conference (2007 and 2008); and the International Jazz Education Association (IAJE) Conference in Toronto (2003). He has also played and taught at the Lana Jazz Festival in Lana, Italy (2005) as well as the Karel Velebny Jazz Workshop in Frydlant, Czech Republic (2006-2014). He has performed in many jazz clubs including: The Deerhead Inn (PA), Jazz Base (PA), Shanghai Jazz (NJ), Zanzibar Blue, and Chris’ Jazz Cafe (both in Phila.). He has also worked extensively in Europe playing at CoffeeArt (Berlin, Germany) and also at Agharta, U Maleho Glena, Reduta, U Stare Pani, and Jazz Dock jazz clubs (all in Prague, Czech Rep.).

As an ensemble director, Dr. Wetzel has been the guest director for the SteelStacks All-Star High School Band (2012-14), the Berks All-Star High School Jazz Ensemble (2008 & 2013), and the PMEA District 9 Jazz Band Fest big band (2001 and 2010). He has also led many workshops and clinics throughout Pennsylvania and abroad. He is in demand as an adjudicator for music festivals and competitions.

As a performer, he has backed many of the great performers in show business including: Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Bernadette Peters, Tommy Tune, the Temptations and the Four Tops. He has also appeared with the Philly Pops Orchestra including a performance with singer Patti Page in Carnegie Hall, which was recorded and released on CD by DRG records and won the 1999 Grammy for best Pop Traditional Performance. He can also be heard on four CD’s with jazz pianist Eric Mintel: Live, Hopscotch, Dynamo and Four on the Floor. Other recording credits include Introducing the Jazz Faculty at Moravian College (as producer and performer) and Simone on Simone (released on Koch Records) featuring the jazz singer, Simone with the Rob Stoneback Big Band.

Wetzel’s first CD as leader, Misunderestimated, was released in January 2010, and is available through this website (look under the “MUSIC” drop down menu). The CD features original jazz compositions presented in a variety of styles and instrumental combinations. His follow up CD, Cowboys in Capes was released September 2014 and is also available through this website. 

Internationally, Wetzel has recorded and toured with the Rosta Fras—Skip Wilkins IQ; the International Quintet. This group is made up of both American and Czech jazz musicians and has toured Central Europe and the US. The group’s first CD, Frydlant Nights, was recorded and released by the Czech Radio Prague label in 2010.

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