JazzArts Academy programs are led by many of the Charlotte region’s most experienced music educators. These professional musicians and teaching artists offer extensive and diverse experience in the jazz education field and provide students of all ages enriched learning opportunities.
In addition to the faculty below, we consistently enhance our programs with special guests from around the region and around the country.
Patrick Brown, saxophone
Dr. Patrick Brown is the Education Director for JazzArts Charlotte. His past teaching positions include Davidson College, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Middle Georgia State University, Wingate University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, and Mitchell Community College. Patrick has presented clinics and research at the Jazz Education Network International Conference, College Music Society Southern and Mid-Atlantic Regional Conferences, North Carolina Music Educators Association Conference, Nebraska Music Educators Association Conference, North American Saxophone Alliance Regional and National Conferences, and the Nebraska State Bandmasters Association Convention.
Lovell Bradford, piano
Adjunct professor of piano at Davidson College, where he also studied Music and Art, is well known and played on a number of top recordings in both the Gospel and Jazz traditions. Bradford is a native of Gary Indiana. His first musical influences were in church where his first teacher, his grandmother, played every Sunday. His gifts grew and took him to Central State University where he would broaden his musical sphere of influences. He began playing in the jazz scene of Columbus, OH before moving to Charlotte, NC. Lovell has performed with artists such as Pharez Whitted, Slide Hampton, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Ronnie Burrage, and many others.
Geoff Clapp, drums
Geoff Clapp is a one-of-a-kind drummer who’s feel and style are only matched by his kind and generous spirit. He plays what he describes as a mix of the “heady New York and soulful New Orleans” drum styles. Geoff is a true artistic rarity in progress. He has played and toured with some heavies, including Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Marsalis (vibes), Peter Martin, Reuben Rogers, Peter Bernstein, Aaron Goldberg, Frank Morgan, Ron Blake (SNL), Eric Reed, Charlie Hunter, Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, LOUQUE, James Tealy, Jamil Sharif, Wess “Warm Daddy” Anderson, Matt Ray Trio, Jermey Pelt, Evan Christopher, Petr Cancura, Sam Fribush Trio, and Wycliffe Gordon.
Johnny Conga, multi-percussionist
Johnny Conga has been performing for 55 years, as a world renowned “multi-percussionist-specialist”, in the Art of Afro-Cuban/Caribbean drumming and music. As a performer, he has been in 150 bands, done 17 international tours, and worked with over 100 major artists including Paquito D’Riviera, the Jackson Five, Willie Bobo, and Gloria Ganyor. As educator, Johnny is an ethnomusicologist, teaching a Latin jazz style percussion and drum curriculum for over 35 years. Johnny started playing the congas professionally at age 16 in New York, has traveled and performed all over the world, and now calls North Carolina his home for the past several years.
Troy Conn, guitar
Troy Conn started playing guitar at age thirteen. Soon after, he was playing shows before he could even drive himself to them. By sixteen, he was on the scene performing in local rock clubs. At UNC Charlotte, Troy studied classical guitar and, after graduating, was invited to study at Berklee Guitar Sessions under a full scholarship. Versatile in jazz, classical, and rock, Troy has performed across the country and overseas. He is a native to Charlotte, NC, where he regularly plays with his own bands – Ocie Davis Trio, Ron Brendle Quartet, Al Sergel IVtet, and Bunky Moon- as well as with local musicians and with artists on tour. Troy often utilizes his diverse background in styles to perform with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and numerous pit orchestras. When he ‘s not playing, he’s often teaching and mentoring younger musicians, from elementary school through the university level. His latest CD, “Old and New,” was released in Spring 2018.
Sean Higgins, piano
Pianist and composer, Sean Higgins is an international touring and recording artist acting as a musical ambassador to audiences worldwide. While classically trained, his own group offers a modern take on the jazz trio configuration. Higgins enjoys exploring many musical genres and has played keyboards in many commercial settings such as R&B, pop, and fusion.
Carl Ratliff, saxophone
A celebrated Charlotte-Mecklenburg middle school music teacher, Carl earned the Master of Arts in Teaching in Music Education from Winthrop University. Currently, he is the Director of Bands at South Charlotte Middle School. His students have been selected by audition as members of the All-State, All-District, and All-County Bands as well as All-State Jazz and All- Region Jazz Bands and Charlotte Junior Youth Symphony Orchestra. During last school year, Carl was selected Teacher of the Year (second time) at South Charlotte Middle School.
iliana Rose, Piano
Iliana Rose is a fantastic musician. Born in Miami and raised by Cuban parents and grandparents she is steeped in Cuban rhythms and culture. Being a genuine prodigy she started playing music at the age of four. After years of classical and jazz training, she graduated from the prestigious University of Miami as well as the National Piano Guild with performance degrees. She moved to Los Angeles and formed her band, “The iliana Rose Cuban Jazz Band” and worked with some of the finest musicians in the industry including Calixto Oviedo, Alain Perez, Pedro Calvo, Herman Olivera, Jimmy Branly, Richie Gajate Garcia, Munyungo Jackson, Walfredo Reyes Jr, Rene Camacho, Oskar Cartaya, Justo Almario, Alberto Salas and many more.
Al Sergel, Drums
Drummer and composer Alfred Sergel IV, has shared the stage with Grammy award winning artists and recorded on numerous Billboard charting albums. Sergel has 30 years of experience as a professional musician and educator with studies at Florida State University and Berklee College of Music in the area of percussion, drum set, and jazz studies. Sergel performs and tours regularly with Jason Upton, John Mark McMillian, Chad Lawson, and Shana Tucker. Currently Sergel is adjunct faculty at The Kings University in Dallas, TX, Davidson College in Davidson, NC and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC.