I am an Associate Professor and Director of Bands at Aquinas College here in Grand Rapids. I hold a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Composition and Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado, and Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
I’ve also been active as a professional trombonist since 1970. While jazz is my main musical endeavor, I have also played in a variety of musical ensembles including everything from orchestral groups to rock and roll bands (I was on the road with Leon Russell in 1981, for example). Along with that, I spent many years as a trombonist in musical theater productions which gave me the opportunity to work with celebrities such as Mickey Rooney, Ann Miller, Richard Harris, Robert Goulet, and many others.
As a jazz trombonist I’ve been so very blessed to have performed with such greats as J.J. Johnson, Max Roach, Urbie Green, Mel Torme, Randy Brecker, and many others. Among my contributions to the field of jazz education, I was chosen three times to lecture at the prestigious International Association for Jazz Education annual conference (twice in New York City and once in Toronto). And from 1990 to 2011, I was also on the jazz faculty at the Interlochen Arts Camp held each summer in Interlochen, Michigan.
At Interlochen, I taught many wonderful students from all over the world among them, five-time Grammy Award winner Norah Jones and my son, Matt Brewer, an upright and electric bassist currently performing with the great drummer and Cam Jazz recording artist, Antonio Sanchez.
Currently, I play second trombone (jazz soloist) in the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, a big band that performs on the first Sunday of every month at Founders Brewery, and lead trombone with the Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra in Kalamazoo, featured frequently at The Union Club.
In addition, my wife, the superb singer-pianist, Robin Connell, and I play in formats from duo (we both play and sing), to quintet. We will be featured in a series of upcoming performances (along with other featured performers) at the Harris Building in Grand Rapids from January through May of this year.