Submitted by Bruce P. Diehl

Professors and Adjunct Faculty

*Lessons with a jazz focus can be made available for any instrument

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Claire Arenius, Drums                           Joe Belmont,Guitar   
Geoff Cunningham,Trumpet David Picchi,Bass
Jason Robinson, Saxophone Carl Clements, Saxophone
Eugene Uman, Jazz Piano Lecturer Bruce Diehl
Ann Maggs, Voice

Neal Melley, Trombone

Benjamin Muller, Graduate Assistant  


Claire Arenius


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Claire Arenius has been actively performing in jazz for almost 30 years. Her formative years were spent studying music at Univ. of Mass. where Archie Shepp and Max Roach were on faculty. She relocated to N.Y. after receiving a National Endowment Grant to study with master drummer, Charli Persip; which led to her joining trombonist/arranger Melba Liston's group and to performances at Carnegie Hall, Seaport, Blues Alley, The Bottom Line, and other major jazz venues. She toured Europe as the drummer for guitar master Attila Zoller's Trio, playimg the major Jazz Festivals in Germany, Austria & Switzerland. She has also performed/recorded with many reknown jazz artists, including Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, Ray Copeland, Slide Hampton, Mose Allison, Sheila Jordan & others. Claire has recently released her debut CD as a leader, "When Worlds Touch You", featuring all her original compositions, with a trio including Eugene Uman & Thomson Kneeland. They were recently featured performing in South America at Medellin, Colombia‘s International Millennium Jazz Festival; and also at this year‘s Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vt.

In addition to performing & composing, Claire also serves as an educator on adjunct faculty of music at Amherst College and at Smith College, and as a clinician for various educational jazz programs.

Click here to email Claire

For booking info, or to order CDs:

Joe Belmont

Jazz Guitar

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In addition to being a member of the Five College and Amherst College faculty, Joe Belmont teaches jazz guitar and related courses at the Northampton Community Music School. Joe plays with the nationally known band Viva Quetzal and has performed in the jazz, rock, acoustic, and classical idioms. He has received classical training in guitar and piano and holds a BA in composition and theory from City University of New York.



Carl Clements


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Carl Clements (saxophones/flutes/bamboo flute) received a BM in Jazz Composition and Arranging from the Berklee College of Music in 1987, an MFA in Jazz Performance from the California Institute of the Arts in 1990, completed a year of study in the DMA program in World Music at the New England Conservatory, and received a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2010. His PhD dissertation is entitled "Pannalal Ghosh and the Bānsurī in the Twentieth Century" (see abstract), and his writing is published in various academic books and journals (see Academic Resume). He has studied North Indian classical music on the bansuri (North Indian bamboo flute) since 1989 with Dave Philipson, Amiya Dasgupta, Steve Gorn, Devendra Murdeshwar, George Ruckert, Peter Row, and Nityanand Haldipur.

He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Hampshire College, and is an active performer and composer of jazz and world music.

Geoff Cunningham

Jazz Trumpet

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 Raised in Connecticut and educated at UMass Amherst under the direction of Jeff Holmes, Geoff Cunningham's sound is influenced by jazz trumpet greats such as Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, and Woody Shaw. Geoff is a diversely experienced musician who plays throughout New England in a variety of musical settings, including a regular chair in the Amherst Jazz Orchestra and the Jeff Holmes Big Band, and can also be found teaching music lessons and classes at Amherst College, Greenfield, and Holyoke Community Colleges.


Bruce Diehl

Director, Amherst College Jazz Ensemble, Combos, Lecturer in Jazz Improvisation/Theory 

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Bruce Diehl has been teaching and performing in the Amherst, MA area for nineteen years. In 1995, he completed his Masters of Music Degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His composition/arranging teachers included Jeff Holmes, Yusef Lateef and Frederick Tillis.

Bruce did his undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY, graduating in 1990. At Eastman, he completed two Bachelors Degrees, one in Saxophone Performance, the other in Music Education. He studied with saxophonist/author Ramon Ricker, and with the late Rayburn Wright. Performances at Eastman included the Eastman Jazz Ensemble, Eastman Wind Ensemble (in which he toured Japan in 1990 and recorded a disc, Live in Japan (for CBS/Sony) and performances with Bill Dobbins, Ramon Ricker, Branford Marsalis, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Steve Houghton, and Paquito D'Rivera.

Prior to his work at Amherst College, Bruce was Director of Instrumental Music and Jazz Studies at Northfield Mount Hermon School, a private boarding school serving grades 9-12. His responsibilities at NMH included directing the then newly-formed Concert Band, the NMH Jazz Ensemble, and the Jazz Combo. He taught Saxophone, Jazz History, Jazz Theory and Arranging, and Electronic Music at NMH. He was the founder and coordinator of the annual NMH Jazz Festival, hosting such artists as Robert Levy, Rob Tapper, Eric Applegate and David Sporny (with the Amherst Jazz Orchestra).

Currently, Bruce is a Director of Jazz Performance at Amherst College. His responsibilities at Amherst include directing the Jazz Ensembles, jazz combos, teaching jazz improvisation, jazz theory,  and jazz arranging/composition.  In addition, he coordinates the Jazz @ Schwemm's performance series.

Bruce remains active as a clinician, performer and guest director at jazz festivals. He coordinates the Teacher Training section of the Jazz in July summer camp at UMASS. The summer of 2001 saw Bruce teach at the inaugural season of the Jazz Dialogues Summer Camp at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA, and he has been back in subsequent summers. He has spent 11 summers (1988-1995, 1999-2001) teaching saxophone and jazz-related courses and directing various ensembles at Camp Encore/Coda, a music camp for ages 8-18 in Sweden, Maine.  He is a regular member of the Jeff Holmes Big Band and has taught saxophone, jazz education, and directed combos for the past five summers at Jazz in July, a summer jazz school hosted at UMASS.  He has directed Junior and Senior High District Festivals in Western MA and Vermont.

Ann Maggs

Jazz Voice

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Ann Maggs began singing in smoky bars at age 14, joining the Musician’s Union a year later. She has performed with Don Was, Jim Argiro, Fred Karlin, Andy Jaffe, Jeff Holmes, Gary Wofsey, and Rick Stepton, and sings with the Big Bands of Jeff Holmes, Sonny Costanza, Don Baptiste, and Everett Longstreth’s “Tribute to Benny Goodman” Orchestra. She sings throughout New England and New York, performing at the Plaza in New York City, First Night in Saratoga Springs, NY, and has a long-standing New Year’s Eve gig at the Inn at Sawmill Farm in West Dover, VT.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts and the University of Rhode Island, Ann is the Assistant Music Librarian at Amherst College and teaches Jazz Voice at Amherst College as well as Westfield State College. She is a clinician at Massachusetts All State Conferences, and an adjudicator for IAJE festivals of jazz choirs.

She is the narrator of several Emmy nominated documentaries for Public Television and can be heard on the computer game, “Majesty”. She is actor, composer, and music director with the Hampshire Shakespeare Company. Among her stage roles are Gertrude in Hamlet, Joy Gresham in Shadowlands, and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Ann is an archivist and playwright, portraying Edith Piaf, philanthropist Belle Skinner, and Mabel Loomis Todd, the first editor of Emily Dickenson’s poems.

Neal Melley

Jazz Trombone

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A native of Belmont, MA, Neal Melley received a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Performance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1996. Upon graduation, he joined the United States Air Force Band of Liberty stationed in Bedford, MA. After serving for four years, Neal continued his education at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, receiving a MM in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media and a DMA in Trombone Performance and Literature.  Neal enjoys playing in a variety of settings, from jazz to salsa to classical, and has performed with artists as diverse as Jiggs Whigham, John Pizzarelli, Jim McNeely, the Mills Brothers, Ernie Watts, Byron Stripling, the Temptations and the Four Tops, Johnny Rivera, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to his performances, Neal maintains a busy teaching schedule including private studio lessons in the Worcester area and trombone lessons at Amherst College. Neal currently lives in Worcester with his wife Kerri, son Tim, and daughter Sarah.

David Picchi

Jazz Bass and Combo Coach

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 David Picchi has been performing and teaching music throughout the Pioneer Valley since 2001.  

After graduating from Holyoke Community College and UMass Amherst, David spent 3 years touring nationally with the Soul/R&B band Leah Randazzo Group. In addition to being a member of the Amherst College Music Department adjunct faculty, David also contributes skills and services to the HCC Jazz Festival, Northampton Jazz Festival, UMass Jazz in July, Vermont Jazz Center Summer Workshop, and Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School.

David has performed, or can currently be seen performing with Karyn Allison, Chocolate Peach, Samirah Evans, FlavaEvolution, Chuck Langford, Yusef Lateef, Charles Neville, Arturo O'Farrill, Dave Samuels, Beau Sasser and many other wonderful musicians. 

Jason Robinson

Assistant Professor of Jazz and Popular Music, Saxophone

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American saxophonist and scholar Jason Robinson is fascinated by the relationship between improvised music, experimentalism, and cultural identity. His current performance interests include the intersection of improvisation and composition, new electro-acoustic processing and interaction enabled through software-based technologies, and the relationship between popular music and experimentalism. He performs regularly as a soloist (acoustically and with electronics), with groups he co-leads (Cosmologic and the Cross Border Trio), as a leader of varying ensembles performing his original music, and in a variety of collaborative contexts. His latest albums include his fourth release as a leader—Cerberus Rising (2009/Circumvention)—and the fourth release by Cosmologic, Eyes in the Back of My Head (2008/Cuneiform). He has performed at festivals and prominent venues in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. He has performed or recorded with Peter Kowald, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Eugene Chadbourne, Earl Howard, Emily Hay, Jeff Kaiser, Toots and the Maytals, Groundation, Elijah Emanuel and the Revelations, Bertram Turetzky, Mark Dresser, John Russell, Roger Turner, Gerry Hemingway, Kei Akagi, Mel Graves, Liberty Ellman, Babatunde Olatunji, Mel Martin, Marco Eneidi, Lisle Ellis, Raphe Malik, Mike Wofford, Philip Gelb, J.D. Parran, Dana Reason, David Borgo, Nathan Hubbard, Michael Dessen, Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (at Pearl's, San Francisco), the La Jolla Symphony, SONOR (UCSD), and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, among others. Robinson has published articles and reviews in Ethnomusicology and Critical Studies in Improvisation/ Études critiques en improvisation. Robinson holds a Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, San Diego


Eugene Uman

Jazz Piano

Image and video hosting by TinyPicEugene Uman received an MA from Queens College in Jazz Performance, and was a recipient of a Eubie Blake Scholarship. He was former faculty at 3rd Street Music Settlement House in NYC, Colegio de Musica, Medellin, Colombia, and has recorded with Carlos Averhoff of Irakere as well as various Latin American ensembles; also performed with Donald Byrd, Jerry Bergonzi, Larry Rivers group, Vermont Jazz Ensemble. Eugene has been commissioned by the Big Band de Medellin to compose and perform, and has given workshops at the university level in jazz composition, jazz theory and harmony, jazz improvisation, jazz pedagogy, and jazz history and appreciation. Eugene is the Artistic Director at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro, VT.


Benjamin Muller

Graduate Assistant

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Ben Muller graduated from Amherst in 2014 with a degree in music, focusing on composition. He a Graduate Associate for the music department, and is Assistant Director of the Amherst Symphony Orchestra. A saxophonist, pianist, clarinetist, and singer, Ben has played in a wide variety of groups. At Amherst, he was a member of the Glee Club, jazz combo program, big band, orchestra, and acapella group Route 9 (director). He also played in several rock and funk groups that toured the valley and neighboring schools for numerous years, and produced several recordings. He is active as a composer, and hopes to pursue a career in film and television scoring.