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, will be released in 2010 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 PMEA Conference (2007 and 2008); and the 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, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010). He has performed in many jazz clubs including: The Deerhead Inn (PA), Shanghai Jazz (NJ), Zanzibar Blue (Phila.), Agharta, U Maleho Glena, and Jazz Dock jazz clubs (all three in Prague, Czech Rep.).
As an ensemble director, Dr. Wetzel has been the guest director for The PMEA District 9 Jazz Band Fest big band (2001 and 2010) and the Berks All-Star High School Jazz Ensemble (2008). He has also led many workshops and clinics throughout Pennsylvania and abroad. He is in demand as an adjudicator for middle and high school jazz festivals.
He has backed many of the great performers in show business including: Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Bernadette Peters, Tommy Tune, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, 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. Most recently he produced and performed on Introducing the Jazz Faculty at Moravian College, a CD featuring compositions written and performed by the Moravian College Jazz Faculty Ensemble. Most recently he played on the CD Simone on Simone (released on KochRecords) 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 his website: www.neilwetzel.com. The CD features original jazz compositions presented in a variety of textures, styles and instrumental combinations.
He has also 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.
Bio taken from www.moravian.edu.