New Arts Jazztet | Music | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

New Arts Jazztet

New Arts Jazztet

The New Arts Jazztet has long been regarded as southern Illinois' premier jazz group, regularly presenting a select repertoire—engaging original works as well as choice standards—forged in the energy of neo bop and the eclecticism of contemporary jazz. With its hip, approachable character and sound, the cross-generational group—saxophone, trumpet, guitar, bass, and drums—convincingly helps to sustain jazz into the 21st Century.

The NAJ’s club dates have included Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp, Chicago’s Pops for Champagne, and other nightspots around the Midwest. Its concert, clinic, and festival engagements have comprised a number of universities and other performance venues throughout the Heartland. The group has opened twice for Stanley Jordan, and has shared the stage with numerous other jazz artists, most recently the iconic Charles McPherson. In 2010, the NAJ was invited to perform at the inaugural Jazz Education Network Conference in St. Louis. The group has also performed as part of a live statewide television broadcast, Arts Across Illinois: CenterStage at PBS affiliate, WTTW/Channel 11, Chicago. And it is regularly included on the Illinois Arts Council ArtsTour Roster.    

Arkadia (a caldera productions, 2014), the most recent release by NAJ bassist, Phil Brown, features the New Arts Jazztet, and broke into the national top 50 jazz albums for radio airplay in early 2015. The group also enjoyed nationwide radio airplay and attention on Brown's previous recording, Bright Side (a caldera productions, 2009). And the New Arts Jazztet, along with the duo, FourOnSix, was featured on Brown's Darkness Into Light (a caldera productions, 2006).

The NAJ is in residence at Southern Illinois University, where all but one of its members are School of Music faculty. Its current line-up is Dick Kelley, reeds; Bob Allison, trumpet/flugelhorn; Isaac Lausell, guitar; Phil Brown, bass; and Jimmy Beers, drums/percussion. Annually for one week in June, New Arts Jazztet members staff a jazz improvisation camp at SIU. Each fall, the group presents a formal concert of standards, and each spring, a formal concert of original music. The NAJ is also a headline ensemble at the Southern Illinois Music Festival each summer.

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Phil Brown, A Caldera Enterprises, P O Box 431, Carbondale IL 62903 USA, 618/303-8051,


Dick Kelley joined the New Arts Jazztet in 2008, and is currently Assistant Professor of Saxophone, and Director of Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University.  As an active performer both nationally and internationally, he has performed throughout North America, France, Italy, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, as well as at several conferences of the North American Saxophone Alliance, the World Saxophone Congress, and the United States Navy Band Symposium. 

In the jazz arena, Dr. Kelley has performed with the likes of Jon Faddis, Dick Oatts, Stefon Harris, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Bob Mintzer, Wycliffe Gordon, Jim Pugh, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Bobby Shew and Kenny Werner, among others. Additionally, he has toured extensively with Patti Page, Marie Osmond, and the Motown Soul Review. As well as performing with the New Arts Jazztet at the inaugural Jazz Education Network Conference, Dr. Kelley has performed or presented at several conferences of the International Association of Jazz Educators. 

He received his Bachelor of Music from Millikin University, his Master of Music from Indiana State University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Kelley has been fortunate to study with Perry Rask, Paul Bro, Jean-Marie Londeix, Otis Murphy, Chip McNeill, Glenn Wilson, Ron Bridgewater, Dick Oatts, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, Claude DeLangle, and Debra Richtmeyer.

BOB ALLISON  trumpet/flugelhorn

Bob Allison, originally from Memphis, Tennessee, is Associate Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University. He has also taught at Millikin University, and at the Latvian National Conservatory, in Riga, Latvia. Besides fulfilling his teaching duties, he is active as a performer in the classical and jazz idioms. Dr. Allison is a founding member of the New Arts Jazztet, which formed in 1984. He is a former winner of the International Trumpet Guild's Jazz Improvisation Contest, and has performed in England, Latvia, and Sweden. Dr. Allison also has performed with numerous jazz artists, including James Williams, Cal Thomas, Willie Thomas, and Stanley Clarke. He has also been a frequent featured soloist with the New Chicago Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Allison earned his Bachelor of Music from Memphis State University.  He received most of his training at the University of Illinois, where he earned his Master of Music and his Doctor of Musical Arts.  There he was a student of Ray Sasaki, David Hickman, and Mike Tunnell.


Isaac Lausell is Assistant Professor of Guitar at Southern Illinois University, and joined the New Arts Jazztet in 2012. Prior to his appointment at SIU, he taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, University of North Texas, and several schools in Puerto Rico, including the Inter-American University and the Consevatorio de Música.

Dr. Lausell has performed and recorded with jazz and Latin artists such as Ray Anderson, Ignacio Berroa, Coco Freeman, Chris Carrington, Kenwood Dennard, Ricky Encarnación, Jon Faddis, Eddie Gómez, Heaven Report, Rick Latham, Matt Marvuglio, Paoli Mejias, Fidel Morales, Marcello Pellitteri, Marco Pignataro, Proyecto EVIF, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, Jorge Vizcarrondo, Oscar Stagnaro, and Norbert Stachel and 33DC.

He holds a Bachelor of Music from Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, a Master of Music from the University of North Texas, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Lausell has studied guitar with Jerry Willard, Benjamin Verdery, Thomas Johnson, Richard McClure, Fred Hamilton, Terry Hankins, Mike Wheeler, Luis Enrique Juliá, Ismael Falcón and Sandra Reyes.  And he has participated in master classes with Andrew York, Dale Stuckenbruck, Pepe Romero, John Benitez, Alexander Sergüei, Eladio Scharrón, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Mark White, Oscar Stagnaro, and Walter Quevedo.

Dr. Lausell is also the author of four publications:  A New Approach to Scales for Classical Guitar (2013); Lausell’s Jazz Guitar Notebook (2012); A Reference Guide for the Improvising Musician (2012); and The Sound Matrix (2005).


Notable among the many jazz artists with whom Phil Brown has collaborated are Pepper Adams, Lockjaw Davis, Herb Ellis, Steve Gadd, Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie, Tom Harrell, Delfeayo Marsalis, Mark Murphy, and Clark Terry. A native of Amarillo, Texas, he is currently Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University. He joined the New Arts Jazztet in 1991.

Brown has also served as guest artist, clinician, and adjudicator at any number of national and area jazz competitions, camps, and festivals, most recently the University of Louisville Jazz Week.

He earned his graduate degree in music education at North Texas State University, where he was a member of NTSU's highly acclaimed jazz ensemble, the One O'Clock Lab Band. His undergraduate degree in composition was completed at Northwestern University. Brown's bass teachers have included Lawrence Hurst, Ringwalt Warner, Evan Tonsing, Warren Benfield and Edward Rainbow. He studied composition with M. William Karlins and with Luciano Berio.

Brown’s recent writing efforts have produced almost 50 originals for the NAJ. In 2003, the Illinois Arts Council honored him for his work and commitment within the arts with an Artist Fellowship Award in music composition. He has released three recordings, with a fourth on the way, and appears on a number of other recordings, including the compact discs that accompany the 2-volume Jazz Tunes For Improvisation, by Dan Haerle, Jack Petersen and Rich Matteson.


Jimmy Beers is a percussionist and music educator in southern Illinois.  He has performed intermittently with the New Arts Jazztet since 2011, and is its newest member.  Beers’ musical collaborations cover the gamut of big band and small group jazz, contemporary percussion music, orchestral music, various styles of world music and popular music, and a bevy of Broadway musicals.  

 Beers has performed with such artists as Glenn Wilson, Ron Jones, Bill Prince, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Maraca2 Percussion Duo, Moussa Bolokada Conde, and Mwatabu Okantah, among others.  He also has traveled internationally as both performer and presenter to various conferences including the College Music Society National Conference, John Cage’s Circle of Influence Conference, Illinois Music Educators Association Conferences, Percussive Arts Society Illinois Day of Percussion, and the Murray State University Athena Festival.

 Originally from Chester, Illinois, Beers attended Southern Illinois University where he earned Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in Percussion Performance, studying under Ron Coulter.  He maintains a private studio while sharing the percussion instruction at The Practice Pad in Carbondale, and coaching the front ensemble of the Carbondale Community High School Marching Terriers.