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Mentors

OUR MENTORS

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Jim Lutz

Trombonist, keyboardist, arranger and composer, Jim Lutz has spent the last decade as a musical director and designer for Cirque du Soleil’s productions, including Kooza, Paramour, and Twas the Night Before.

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Ben Todd

Ben Todd is currently the drummer and bandleader for Cirque du Soleil’s Volta; his career also includes performances with various international artists as well as the Australian tours of musicals such as Cats, Miss Saigon, and Grease.

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Felipe Castro

Latin Grammy-nominated Felipe Castro is a saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist who has performed on Royal Caribbean, Princess and P&O Cruises, as well as recorded and toured with a long list of Spanish and international artists.

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Giacomo Riggi

Giacomo Riggi is a pianist, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist whose credits include bandleader for Holland America, Cirque du Soleil pianist, and a headlining performer for Royal Caribbean.

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Carl Mörner Ringström

Guitarist, arranger and composer Carl Mörner Ringström was nominated for a BMW World Jazz Award in 2015; he has performed on Royal Caribbean and regularly collaborates and tours with a slew of international artists.

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Mario Criales

Mario Criales is a bassist, vocalist, composer and author whose career includes extensive international touring, Berklee masterclasses, and bandleading for Holland America.

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Leandro García

Pianist and composer Leandro Garcia has served as a bandleader for Holland America, and was recognized by the National Foundation of the Arts in Argentina for his 2017 album.

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Mike Brehm

Mike Brehm is a trumpet player, arranger and composer whose career has ranged from the lead chair aboard Carnival and Princess Cruises to performing and arranging for the US Navy fleet bands.

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Omer Idan

A multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger, Omer Idan has spent the last several years bandleading for Holland America and Seabourn as well as touring with Israeli and international artists.

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Oscar Cordero

Oscar Cordero’s trumpet career includes a litany of musicals from Les Miserables to Chicago to Beauty and the Beast, as well performances with Venezuelan, Spanish and other international artists.

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Lewis Sutch

Pianist Lewis Sutch has spent multiple seasons performing with London’s Giffords Circus, bandleading with Holland America and Royal Caribbean, and on tour with Postmodern Jukebox on Deck.

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Nuno Monteiro

Guitarist Nuno Monteiro has toured Europe with musicals such as Mamma Mia! as well as with Portuguese and international artists, and has also performed aboard Princess Cruises.

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Keith McKelley

A saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, Keith McKelley has performed on Carnival Cruise Lines and has shared the stage with international artists including Usher, Phillip Bailey, and Mary J. Blige.

  • Originally from central Michigan, Jim Lutz has appeared on stages, in recording studios, and in broadcast media across dozens of major cities around the world, with credits that include Cirque du Soleil, Disney, and the TONY® and EMMY® award-winning production Blast!” 

    From 2010-2015, Jim was the music director and played trombones, keyboards, sequences, and effects on Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza.   More recently, Jim was the associate conductor and trombonist for Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour in New York, served as associate music supervisor for Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour das Musical in Hamburg, Germany, and was the Ableton designer for Cirque du Soleil’s Twas The Night Before.

    Jim currently resides in the greater NYC area and continues to perform, compose, produce and, as he sees it, tell stories, stir emotions, and help to bring a little bit more beauty into our world through music.

  • Ben Todd is a drummer, percussionist, composer and bandleader from Adelaide in South Australia.  Over the past 10 years, he’s been touring the world with Cirque du Soleil as a featured drummer, percussionist and now-bandleader with 3 of their shows, Corteo, Kooza, and most recently, Volta. During this time, Ben has performed in Japan, Russia, the US, Spain, Canada, France, Belgium and England for a total of over 1500 shows. 

    Prior to joining Cirque, Ben performed with a wide range of artists back in Australia including Kate Cebrano, Paulini, Ben Folds, Doug Parkinson, Rhonda Burchmore, James Morrison, David Campbell, Barry Humphries and Glen Shorrok, as well as pit orchestra work for many musical theater shows including the Australia / New Zealand tour of Cats, Miss Saigon, Grease, Metro Street and The Candyman.

    In 2007, Ben was selected as a James Morrison Jazz Scholarship finalist.  The following year, he was a featured artist at Ultimate Drummers Weekend in Melbourne, Australia, and he would be asked back to perform again in 2015, this time in a duo format with multi-instrumentalist Adam Page.  He’s also released three albums as a leader, including 20Ten and The Ben Todd Quintet.  He continues to tour, perform, and do awesome things behind the drum kit.

  • Latin Grammy-nominated Felipe Castro is a saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist whose 26-year career spans performing, recording and arranging in a variety of styles — from jazz, bossa, merengue, and salsa, to pop, funk, gospel, and house music — for countless Spanish and international artists. 

    His touring credits include names like Tony Succar, Carlinhos Brown, Bonnie Tyler, Matthew Herbert, David Bisbal, Inna, Chino and Nacho, Mónica Naranjo, Ana Torroja, David Civera, Natalia Jiménez, Merche, Malú, and many others, and he has also performed his headlining show on P&O and Princess Cruises.  

    Felipe currently resides in Holland, where he continues to arrange, tour, and crank out earth-shattering solo after solo.

  • Multi-instrumentalist Giacomo Riggi’s career has taken him all over the map, literally.  He’s won many awards in his native Italy for both composition and performance in piano and classical percussion; toured Europe, Asia and the Americas with orchestras and jazz ensembles; and sailed around the world as a bandleader and musical director on cruise ships and with Cirque du Soleil.

    He’s collaborated with a long list of artists that includes Danilo Rea, Mauro Grossi, Tony Scott, Garrison Fewell, Marlene VerPlanck, Paul McCandless, and others, and he’s sung with Bobby McFerrin multiple times.  He’s also performed his show Sonic Odyssey as a headliner on Royal Caribbean cruises.  And he’s released three albums as a leader, including Izevarm and Into My Life.

    Giacomo is currently based in Tuscany, where he organizes concerts, explores the musical boundaries of everything from the vibraphone to the harpejji, and continues to learn, experiment, share, and stay curious.

  • Carl Mörner Ringström is a Swedish guitarist, arranger and composer.  Since graduating with a masters from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Carl has offered up his musical wisdom through clinics, workshops and masterclasses, and has performed everywhere from tours to cruise ships to various other big stages around the world.

    Notable collaborations include Henrik Linder of Dirty Loops fame, Louis Cole, Virgil Donati, David Binney, Wayne Krantz, Claudia Campagnol, Sidsel Storm, Malene Mortensen, Marius Neset, Snorre Kirk and Vivian Buczek.  He was also nominated for a BMW World Jazz Award in 2015, and is endorsed by Yamaha and Line6.

    After stints in Copenhagen and New York, Carl is currently based in Stockholm, where he continues to write, teach, perform, and transfix listeners with everything from adult chords to thrash metal solos.

     

  • Hailing from the country of Colombia, Mario Criales is a bassist, vocalist, composer and author who, after winning several awards for bass performance in his youth, has enjoyed a career of touring and performing that has taken him from Honduras to Kenya to Italy.  He has also sailed much of the globe as a bandleader for Holland America Line, and is endorsed by Aguilar amps.

    Much of Mario’s career has been spent as an ambassador of joropo, a hybrid style of music originating in his native Colombia.  To this end, he has given masterclasses at prestigious institutions such as the Berklee School of Music, released an original album entitled Influencias, and published a book, El Bajo y el Joropo Llanero, in 2017.  

    That said, Mario’s passion for joropo has never compromised his love and dedication to other styles, from jazz to pop to classical.  He currently resides in Amsterdam, where he continues to perform, teach, compose, and churn out intoxicatingly groovy bass lines.

     

  • Argentinian-born Leandro Garcia is a pianist, arranger and composer who has performed on the stages of major cities all over the world, including Barcelona, Rome, Paris, London, Boston, and New York City, in addition to extensive touring and festivals in his native country.  

    He’s also familiar with much of the world’s waterways, having served as a bandleader for Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines over the course of several years.  His writing and composing during this time led to his recognition at the Fondo Nacional de las Artes, in the jazz category, for his solo album Despierta, in 2017.

    Leandro also spent time in the Buenos Aires musical theater scene, where he has performed shows such as Chicago and Les Miserables; he’s also been featured as a pianist and vocalist in top jazz clubs around the city, and currently continues to teach, perform, and craft sweet lines on his piano.

  • Hailing from Texas, Mike Brehm is a trumpet player, arranger and composer whose wealth of gig experience ranges from cruise ships to the US Navy.  After graduating from Texas State with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, he went on to play lead trumpet for Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises for several years.

    In 2016, he joined the ranks of the US Navy Fleet Bands, and has spent the past three years stationed outside of Seattle, Washington, performing and arranging for the Navy Band Northwest.  Through his performing career he has played alongside Tony Vega, Rufus Reid, Bob Mintzer, Michael Philip Mossman, Bob Shephard, and Marvin Stamm.

    Mike has recently accepted a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and will move cross-country with his rad family later this year to begin his Master’s degree in Jazz Performance and light up the northeast with his playing.

  • Omer Idan is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger from Eilat, Israel, and there are few places on the planet he hasn’t visited with a guitar or bass in hand.  While studying jazz at the Rimon School in Ramat Hashasron, he formed the fusion ensemble The Boogie Knight, and would go on to tour with other groups such as Los Omres and the Groove Ambassadors.

    Starting in 2015, Omer took his talents to the sea and spent several contracts as a musician and musical director with Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruises, during which time he performed on all seven continents, with hundreds of artists from all over the world, to audiences all around the world.  He’s also had the pleasure of collaborating with Tararam, Laila Malcus, and many other artists.

    Omer has settled back in Tel Aviv, where he continues to perform, produce, and create groovy, innovative music at an alarmingly high level.

  • Oscar Cordero is a trumpet player with a wealth of professional experience, in styles ranging from classical to pop to jazz, and across three continents.  He won the position of Associated Soloist at the National Philharmonic of Venezuela at the age of 17, and would eventually move to Europe for various performance opportunities.

    Among the musicals he’s played are Les Miserables, Chicago, Saturday Night Fever, Beauty and the Beast, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Spamalot, and On Your Feet.  And his performance and touring credits include international artists such as Ray Barreto, Cheo Feliciano, Adalberto Santiago, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Isaac Delgado, Paloma San Basilio, Malu, Luisito y Robert Quintero, and many others.

    As has been the case in his native Venezuela as well as Spain, Oscar has become a top-call musician in the Netherlands, where he currently resides, performs, and continues to blast high notes for days.

  • Lewis Sutch is a British pianist who has performed all over the world, both solo and with various renowned acts. Conservatory-trained in both jazz and classical piano, he’s since broadened his scope with gigs ranging from pop to blues to rock, through everything from ships to tours to the circus.

    Over the course of two seasons on tour with Giffords Circus in London, he performed to 80,000+ people across the UK, including notable celebrities such as Adele, Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Knopfler, Jennifer Saunders, Jamie Cullum, Hugh Grant and Vivianne Westwood. He’s also had the privilege of playing some of the top venues across England, including Blenheim Palace and Ronnie Scott’s.

    Subsequently, Lewis has traveled to 6 continents as a pianist and musical director for Holland America Line and Royal Caribbean, most recently finishing a year-long run with Postmodern Jukebox on Deck. He currently splits time between the UK and the US, continuing to perform and hone his craft.

  • Portuguese guitarist Nuno Monteiro’s varied career includes musicals, tours, cruising, conservatory teaching, a degree in Flamenco guitar, and projects ranging from jazz to blues, pop to rock, and funk to Latin.

    He has enjoyed collaborations with Steve Larkins, Kim Purling, Paul Baker, Mark Anthony, Glenn McNamara, Nijel Rawlins, John Bressler, the Corleone Big Band, and four years of touring with the international vocalist Jose Alberto Reis.  He also toured as the lead guitarist for Mamma Mia! for two years, performing over one thousand shows for over two million people.

    Nuno has also spent multiple contracts performing with Princess Cruises and traveling much of the world.  He currently resides in Porto, where he continues to play, teach, and consistently produce tasty lines on his guitar.

  • American saxophonist Keith McKelley has spent a lot of time on the big stage, where he’s also made a name for himself with the Aerophone, Roland’s model of the EWI.  Originally from Ohio, he moved to Los Angeles in 2013, where he’s worked as a live and session musician, as well as a producer.

    Keith has shared the stage and the studio with an assortment of artists that includes Usher, Phillip Bailey, Mary J. Blige, Rapper Logic, Jhene Aiko, John Lindahl, Gin Wigmore, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, David Foster, Tyrese, Larry Dunn, Bob James, Harvey Mason, Raphael Saadiq, Andrew Gouche, Solange Knowles, Bill “The Buddha” Dickens, Micki Howard, Angela Bofill, Marcus Johnson, Marc de Clive-Lowe, and others.  He’s also performed on Carnival Cruise Lines and released three original albums.

    Keith continues to be an integral part of the LA music scene, always striving to create music that is at a high level, that will last, and that is absolutely heartfelt.