Six SFLS Jazz House Musicians Make Public Concert Debut in Montclair

Six Senator Frank Lautenberg School (SFLS) student-musicians from Paterson who had never played a musical instrument until six months ago made their public concert debut at Montclair’s Wellmont Arts Plaza on Thursday.

From left, SFLS student musicians Ashley Riera, Emma Bermudez, Jhnelle Rodriguez, Julissa Crespo, and James Martinez.

The student musicians had all participated in the JAZZ HOUSE Music Scholars Program that launched at their school in January and continued their music education at the Summer at the JAZZ HOUSE Sessions in Montclair. The student musicians who performed at the JAZZ HOUSE Summer Sessions concert on Thursday were trombonist Jhnelle Rodriguez, saxophonists Julissa Crespo, James Martinez, trumpeter Emma Bermudez, clarinetist Ashley Riera, and vocalist Dif’rent Simpson.


SFLS student musician Dif’rent Simpson.

The students participated in the summer program with the help of a $10,000 McDonald’s of Paterson Scholarship established by Angela Adderley and the Adderley Management Company, Inc. Adderley is the owner/operator of several McDonald’s restaurant locations including one on Market Street in Paterson. Her husband, multi-Grammy Award-winning artist Nat Adderley, Jr., led the Funk + Soul Band at the JAZZ HOUSE Summer Sessions. He also worked as musical director for the late Luther Vandross and is the nephew of legendary jazz saxophonist Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley.


From left, PPS Communications Director, Jazz House staffers Brianna Ford and Galo Inge, Jazz house instructor Ed Palermo, SLFS student musicians Julissa Crespo, Jhnelle Rodriguez, James Martinez, Emma Bermudez, Ashley Riera, student from another school district, PPS Superintendent Eileen Shafer, Jazz House instructor Nat Adderley, Jr.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our wonderful musicians who gave an outstanding performance today,” said Superintendent of Schools Eileen F. Shafer. “They have made such amazing progress in a short period of time, not only on learning to play their instruments but in developing the confidence to stand before a crowd and perform. I congratulate all of our student-musicians and thank their parents, their school administrators, Melissa Walker and the JAZZ HOUSE instructors for all of their care and support, and Angela Adderley for her kind generosity that benefitted our students.”


Center, SFLS student musician Dif’rent Simpson flanked by her father and Jazz House Founder and President Melissa Walker.

Melissa Walker, founder and president of JAZZ HOUSE, and her team launched the Music Scholars Program at SFLS in January with 54 middle school students who received music instruction twice a week after school.

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