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The NYJW Team

Marco Chelo

NYJW Co-Founder and Director

he/him/his

I was born in Milan and raised in Rome. I moved to New York in 1995 where I started a travel agency then a Web development company and finally together with Marc Mommaas Co-founded the New York Jazz Workshop. I have a passion for music which led me to this path. At the New York Jazz Workshop my main functions are in Administration and Marketing.

Where are you from?
The Universe
What is something that drew you to music?
Joie de vivre
What is one album you’d take with you on a desert island?
Just one? Not fair! If I had to pick one it would be “The Real Mc Coy by Mc Coy Tyner
Favorite food?
Homemade food from Italy, China, India, and Jamaica
One fun fact
I like to sail, you can keep up with my travels here

Marc Mommaas

NYJW Co-Founder, Director, and Instructor

he/him/his

I moved to NYC in 1997, and founded NYJW with Marco in 2008 to develop a platform for music enthusiasts to get together, play and enrich their lives with Jazz and Improvisation. Besides NYJW I am a performing/touring artist, with records out as a leader under the renown label Sunnyside Records, am a professor at the New School and co-founder of HJW (Hudson Jazzworks).

Where are you from?
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
What is something that drew you to music?
Am a fourth generation musician, classical music from my mothers side. Jazz was introduced by my father, a known painter/artist who was passionate about Jazz.
What is one album you’d take with you on a desert island?
Hmmmmm, the 6 box set of Stan Getz with Kenny Baron, People Time. Technically that is still one album right?;) If just one album, no set, then Coltrane’s Crescent, or maybe Bill Evans Quintessence, or no wait, Steve Lacy’s Reflections, or maybe Miles live in paris, or ….. you know what, I will get back to you on this one…. Parker with strings maybe? .. no .. Duke Ellington with Trane … hmmmm, forget about the desert island, I am staying in Manhattan.
Favorite food?
Anything that Marco makes, he is an amazing chef.
One fun fact
After decades of swimming got seriously hooked on cycling, always just saw it as a mean of transportation (Dutch Roots) but then I got my hands on a Cinelli Super Corsa and next thing I know I am shopping for spandex.

Erin Rabitcheff 

Manager of Student Services

she/her/hers

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Manhattan.
What is something that drew you to music?
My mother’s love of all kinds of music influenced me. I had heard Ray Charles, Erroll Garner, Ramsey Lewis, Beethoven and other pianists in our home so when she asked me what instrument I wanted to play, I said piano. I received a piano at age seven and fell in love with it.
What is the one album you would bring to a desert island?
Tough question! “Barefoot Sunday Blues” by Ramsey Lewis Trio. That album brings back fond memories of Sunday mornings, music and pancakes.
What is your favorite food?
It might be peanut butter because of Thai Peanut Sauce, a Groundnut Stew that I make, a swirl of peanut butter in ice cream and the classic peanut butter and jelly. It is so versatile!
Fun fact:
I learned to ski in Sofia, Bulgaria by a Bulgarian ski instructor named Lucky.

Andrew Schiller

Manager of Programs and Operations

he/him/his

My background is in upright bass and jazz composition, and I perform in a variety of ensembles. I was drawn towards arts management and education shortly after college, and I love to meet/work with other musicians and music-lovers! My roles at the New York Jazz Workshop are eclectic: scheduling, communication, invoicing, social media, and more.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona
What is something that drew you to music?
My friends in junior high were starting a rock band and needed a bassist. I figured “how hard could that be?!”
What is one album you’d take with you on a desert island?
I’ve really been enjoying “Money Jungle” with Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach lately—but I hope that I’m able to bring a few more albums as well!
Favorite food?
Tacos
One fun fact
I love to brew my own beer!

Eli Hershiser

Youth/Teen Jazz Educator and Programming
he/him/his

I moved to NYC in 2013 to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where I earned my BFA in Saxophone Performance. I have been actively performing, composing and teaching since moving to New York. My primary role with the NYJW is private teaching, and more recently I have been developing Youth and Teens Programming, which I also teach!

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska.
What is something that drew you to music?
My father was always playing music in the house, especially classic rock and folk like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. He also played guitar and taught me at a young age. I eventually began piano lessons and at age 10 I picked up the saxophone. I began to fall in love with jazz music around 13 and that’s when my serious musical journey began!
What is one album you’d take with you on a desert island? 
This is a tough one. Recently, I’ve been listening to A LOT of classical music. I’d have to take a full recording of Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Leonard Bernstein with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Favorite food? 
Probably my mom’s homemade Lebanese food (Kibbeh, Fatayer, Grape Leaves, Hummus)
One fun fact
I am an avid runner, having completed the NYC Marathon in 2018. I was set to run it again in 2020, but obviously the health crisis has resulted in a cancellation of the event. I’ll be running as many NYC Marathons as possible in the future!

CJ Shearn

Author and Content Developer for NYJW Blog

she/her/hers

I was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Binghamton, NY area before moving to Yonkers four years ago. I graduated with a BA in Sociology but my true passion has always been jazz music which I was fortunate to have grown up with practically from the womb.  I began writing about the music in my school paper at age 13, and began writing for the New York Jazz Workshop blog in 2013.

Where are you from?
The home planet
What is something that drew you to music?
How did they do that? The unpredictable nature of improvisation
What is one album you’d take with you on a desert island?
Loaded question. My collection is over a thousand CD’s, plus several hundred more digital files.  Pressed to pick one? Easy. The Sermon by Jimmy Smith.  The perfect snapshot of his first two years of prolific recording, and what I consider to be the Kind of Blue of jazz organ.
Favorite food?
Italian, Japanese, Cuban, Mexican
One fun fact
I am an expert on Blue Note, ECM, CTI and Pablo records.

Ori Chen

All-Girls Jazz Camp Coordinator

she/her/hers

I am a jazz pianist and a student at the New-School for Jazz and Contemporary music. Graduating from the Center of Jazz Studies in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I moved to New-York this last summer of 2021. I’m majoring in Jazz Performance, but I’m also composing and arranging music. My main role in NYJW is developing and leading the All-Girls Jazz summer camp, which is starting for the first time this summer of 2022!

Where are you from? 
Area of Tel- Aviv, Israel
What is something that drew you to music?
When I was 6 my grandfather brought a piano to our home and I was just too curious. Still am.
What is one album you’d take with you on a desert island? 
Incredibly hard to choose. But,  A Love Supreme is the album that keeps me going whatever reality is like.
Favorite food?
Tahini, on top of everything.
One fun fact
I used to do Aerial Acrobatics for most of my life, and in 2017 I joined a circus school in London, UK. With 8 hours of intensive training every day, It was undoubtedly one of the most fun yet exhausting experiences I’ve had.

Christian Motos

Director of Multimedia

he/him/his

I am a multimedia artist who after spending almost a quarter of a decade in the rock music scene as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, I decided to pursue my other passion, the visual arts. I have since amassed a number of projects from music videos, short documentaries, photography, and graphic design, which landed me the coveted spot as head of multimedia for the New York Jazz Workshop. I currently live in Brooklyn, and enjoy a good bourbon.

Where are you from? 
San Diego, California
What is something that drew you to music?
As a teenager, attracting the girls
What is one album you’d take with you on a desert island? 
The Beatles (White Album)
Favorite food?
Vegetarian
One fun fact
Aspiring horologist