Originally from Chicago, Jeff Suzda worked as one of the most in-demand young baritone saxophonists on the Midwest jazz scene and is now having the same success after moving to Washington, DC. Jeff, who recently performed in the Kennedy Center with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, has just been selected as an Emerging-Artist-in-residence at one of the premier music venues in all of the DC area, the Music Center at Strathmore.In 2006, Jeff finished playing the national tour of the show 42nd. St., is a 2004 recipient of the Downbeat Music Award for Best College Combo. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Studies from the prestigious Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, IN where he studied saxophone under Dr. Thomas Walsh.
In his short professional career, Suzda has had numerous opportunities to work with a wide range of entertainers and jazz greats. Jeff performed and recorded live tracks with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lew Tabackin, Mike Verta, and Byron Stripling. At the 2005 IAJE conference, he performed with the Frank Mantooth Tribute Band, and has shared the stage with Bob Mintzer, Al Cobine’s Band, Ben Vereen, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tommy Dorsey Band, and Ingrid Jensen among others.
He has also played in opening acts for a variety of artists, ranging from the Chick Corea/Gary Burton Duet to Joseph Jarmin, Fugazi, and Wesley Willis.
While attending Indiana University, Jeff held positions in two of Indianapolis’ top jazz groups, the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra and the Mid-Coast Swing Orchestra. He also performed in renowned jazz educator Dr. David Baker’s jazz ensemble for two years. In 2004, he performed the world premiere of David Baker’s Mass at the Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis, and is honored to have played for the prestigious American Pianist Association’s tri-annual competition judged by Kenny Barron.
During the summer of 2002, he spent time working at the Indianhead Arts and Education Center in Shell Lake, WI playing in the faculty big band and combo, which included members such as Ron Keezer, David Bixler, and Bill Sears. Continuing his dedication to education, in 2003-2004, Jeff was a founding coach of the Musical Arts Youth Center Jazz Combo Program – an initiave designed to help bring jazz into young students’ lives.
In 2000 Suzda received the Louis Armstrong, John Phillip Sousa, and Samuel E. Magis Awards for outstanding musical performance in both the classical and jazz arenas.
Jeff Suzda has been recently honored by being a selected performer at the 2005 International Association for Jazz Education Conference in Long Beach, California. While there, he led with the award-winning group, Monk By 5, and performed with the Frank Mantooth Tribute Band. Playing with the Mantooth band enabled Jeff to share the stage with such luminaries as Pat Labarbara, Howie Smith, Steve Houghton, Bill Watrous, and Roger Ingram among others.
Jeff’s music has allowed him to travel to Japan, China, and the Caribbean Islands and there is no doubt that Suzda’s diverse musical abilities are finding him a niche among respected musicians and jazz greats.