Dr. Neil Wetzel
Dr. Neil Wetzel is Professor of Music as well as the Chair of the Department of Music at Moravian University (Bethlehem, PA). He is the Director of Jazz Studies, directs the Moravian University BIG Band, and teaches saxophone. He holds both a BM (Jazz Perf.) and MAT degrees from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a doctorate in music education (EdD) at Teacher's College, Columbia University. His dissertation focused on teaching jazz improvisation. Mr. Wetzel has worked and played with Clark Terry, Phil Woods, Terrell Stafford, Stanley Turrentine, and Bobby Watson. He has backed many great performers including Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Bernadette Peters, the Temptations and the Four Tops. Currently he performs regularly in the Water Gap Jazz Orchestra and the Celebration Saxophone Quartet (founded by Phil Woods).
He recorded with the Philly Pops Orchestra and singer Patti Page in Carnegie Hall; the resultant CD won the 1999 Grammy for best Pop Traditional Performance. He can be heard on four CDs with jazz pianist Eric Mintel: Live, Hopscotch, Dynamo and Four on the Floor. Dr. Wetzel has also played and taught at the Karel Velebny Summer Jazz Workshop in Frydlant, Czech Republic and the Lana Jazz Festival in Lana, Italy. He can also be heard on the CD Simone on Simone (released on Koch Records) featuring the jazz singer, Simone with the Rob Stoneback Big Band. Wetzel’s first solo CD as leader, Misunderestimated, was released in January 2010. He has also recorded and toured with the Rosta Fras—Skip Wilkins IQ, the International Quintet. The group’s first CD, Frydlant Nights, was recorded and released by the Czech Radio Prague label in 2010. His most recent CD release as leader, Cowboys in Capes (2014), is available through his website www.neilwetzel.com.
His two most recent recordings include After Midnight in Frydlant; the Neil Wetzel—Gary Rissmiller 5 O’Clock Big Band (released in 2016 on the Arta record label, based in the Czech Republic), and The Saxophone Music of Phil Woods; Celebration Saxophone Quartet (released 2018 on the Minsi Ridge label).