Jazz Improvisation

HMP’s mission to provide Jazz training to classical music students is another defining element of its curriculum. Students develop the ability to improvise in various styles. Our structured approach to teaching Jazz Improvisation takes students from their first years in Musicianship class to their final years in Jazz Combos.  Jazz classes offer an opportunity to learn America’s signature music beginning at a young age. Jazz improvisation provides students with hands-on practice on their instruments working with theory concepts. Students experience both lab-style classes and combos and study with instructors who are active performers throughout the NYC and Philadelphia areas.

We are proud to have won the support of the Bharvaney Fund in support of HMP’s mission to offer jazz study to talented, classically-trained music students. The fund provides scholarships to many HMP students.


Ben Cahill


Ben Cahill has been a part of the Young Artist Program’s Jazz faculty since the Jazz program’s inception in 2001. He has been a teacher, an accompanist, and a co-author of the YAP Jazz Curriculum.

Ben holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, where he studied Composition and Analysis under Eastman School of Music’s Dr. Ernest Livingstone.  He attended The University of Miami’s (Florida) Recording Engineering and Jazz programs, where he studied jazz piano under Dave Roitstein and Vince Lawrence Maggio.  Ben also studied jazz performance and composition with Laurie Altman. Ben’s compositions have been performed in Westminster Conservatory’s Jazz faculty recitals.  He both composes and arranges choral and hand bell pieces, many of which are performed regularly at the Presbyterian Church in Flemington, New Jersey, where Ben has served as the church’s Youth Choir director. Ben continues his study of organ and performs regularly on Hammond organ, other keyboards, and electric bass in numerous jazz and rock ensembles throughout the New Jersey area.


Stanton Davis, Jr.

Email: stanton_davis555@msn.com

Davis _small

Stanton Davis, Jr. began his musical training on piano then trumpet in the 3rd grade in New Orleans. Music became a passion and he continued through school and on to college at Berklee College of Music, then the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He studied trumpet with various Classical as well as Jazz performers/teachers. Even before graduating, Davis begin his musical career by performing, toured, and /or recorded with a plethora of Jazz Groups: The Mercer Ellington Orchestra, The Lionel Hampton Orchestra, George Russell’s Living Time Orchestra, Mario Bauza & His Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. Davis also appeared as a soloist with the Swedish Radio Big Band, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Dave Sanborn’s Night Music on NBC TV. As a free- lance musician, Davis has been a key player in the orchestra pits and on stage for numerous shows as The Dianna Ross ’TV Special. And Broadway‘s touring shows such as Jelly’s Last Jam, Black and Blue, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Sophisticated Ladies, Play On, Bring In ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.

Davis’s soulful trumpet voice also graced the soundtracks for television documentaries such as PBS’ An American Dream and The Virgin Island Adventure.  Mr. Davis is also an active educator at Ocean County Community College and Westminster Conservatory.


Michael Green

Email: michaelcarlgreen@hotmail.com

Mike Green (2)

Following music composition studies at Michigan State University and film scoring courses at the University of California in Los Angeles, Michael C. Green joined various musical groups in London and Los Angeles, where he gained experience as an arranger in the recording industry.

After moving to New York, Mr. Green continued performing as a trumpeter and pianist in small jazz groups, larger bands, pit orchestras, brass ensembles, church services. He makes frequent appearances in numerous concerts, shows, clubs, private parties, corporate, and civic events and has performed for over ten years as a solo jazz pianist at a major hotel in Princeton, NJ.

Also active as a composer and arranger, Mr. Green has written works for piano, concert band, brass band, various ensembles, choir and organ. He has also orchestrated a Broadway show and the score of a PBS documentary film. He has been involved in jazz outreach programs in Pennsylvania high schools and has adjudicated jazz competitions. In recent years the Princeton Brass Band has premiered two of his compositions, and in 2007 Mr. Green was appointed composer-in-residence of that organization, which commissioned him to write a major contest piece (to be premiered in 2010). He continues active freelance engagements as a pianist and trumpeter in a wide variety of musical settings.

John Paul Velez

Honors Music Program Jazz Coordinator

Email: velez.johnpaul@gmail.com

John Paul Velez – Jazz Pianist
Young Artist Program Improvisation Coordinator

M.A., music education, Teachers College Columbia University; B.M., music education with piano principle, Westminster Choir College of Rider University.  Recipient of the Laura Fenn Hood piano award in 2001.  Piano studies with Jose Ramos Santana, Ena Barton and James Goldsworthy.  Jazz piano and composition studies with Laurie Altman.  Piano pedagogy studies with James Goldsworthy, Ingrid Clarfield and Betty Stoloff.  Teaching experience: vocal music teacher, Littlebrook School in Princeton, grades K-5 in general music and choir since 2005.  Private piano studio in Princeton since 2004.  Conservatory faculty since 2010.