Matt Panayides: Director, Guitar, Piano, Teacher

Matt Panayides: Director, Guitar, Piano, Teacher

Tonal Art Music Center. 47 Harrison St, Hoboken, NJ 07030. 973-665-2051

Matt Panayides is a modern guitarist/composer. He loves performing and collaborating with a diverse array of musicians, while being part of the vibrant, creative music scene of New York. His compelling melodies, compositions and improvisations remain in the listener’s mind long after the gig, employing modern harmonies, free and structured improvisations, mixed-meter rhythms and straight-ahead swing.

Hailing from the Midwest, he moved to NYC in the late 90’s to study jazz at MSM. While there he began leading his own groups and collaborating with other musicians on the scene. In 2002 he moved to Seoul, following performance opportunities abroad. Since his return to NYC in 2006 he has been leading his own group and appearing as a sideman in world class venues throughout the city including Smalls, Cornelia Street Café, 55 Bar and ShapeShifter Lab to name but a few.

His current group features a long-standing partnership with Rich Perry on tenor sax and a rotating cast of some of NYC’s heaviest rhythm section players including: Steve LaSpina, Thomson Kneeland, Bob Sabin, Dan Weiss, Mark Ferber, Clarence Penn and Jeff Davis. He has also begun to appear on the international jazz festival scene with a recent performance at the Daegu Jazz Festival in South Korea, with more appearances in the works.

Some of the other major performing artists Panayides has had the opportunity to play and study with include: Garry Dial, Mulgrew Miller, Jane Monheit, Vincent Herring, Rodney Jones, Mario Escalera, Alec Haavik, Cecil Bridgewater, Gene Bertoncini and Jack Wilkens. In 2011 Matt released to great acclaim his first album as a leader on the Pacific Coast Jazz record label. The album features his tunes with Rich Perry, Steve LaSpina and Dan Weiss. In 2008 Matt finished his MA in Jazz Studies at WPUNJ and graduated from MSM with a BM in guitar performance in 2000. Matt currently splits his time between performing and teaching.

Hyeseon Hong: Manager, Piano, Composition Teacher

Hyeseon Hong is an accomplished composer, arranger and pianist working extensively in both New York City and Seoul, Korea.  She is adept in many different genres of music including jazz, musicals, pop and film composition.  She has composed and performed in several different musicals and has been commissioned to write music for film. 

While in Seoul, Ms. Hong created a jazz choir for which she was the pianist, composer and leader.  This group won much critical acclaim in Seoul, performing at all of the most famous jazz clubs and making special appearances at Sejong Cultural Center and on “EBS Space”. 

As an educator Ms. Hong served as assistant professor at Dae Gu Art Music College in South Korea teaching classes in jazz arranging, composition, theory and piano. 

In 2009 she returned to New York where she is currently pursuing her dream of writing for and leading her own original jazz big band.  Her group currently consists of some of New York’s finest musicians while she also continues to lead her choir group in Seoul.

Ms. Hong received a Bachelor of Music from Yonsei University, a Masters of Arts in Jazz Performance from NYU, and pursued additional independent study courses in improvisation and composition at City College.

Ruby Wang: violin and piano teacher

Born and raised about twenty minutes outside of the nation’s capital, Ruby spent the majority of her time as a dynamic member of the music community in Montgomery County as both an accomplished violinist and pianist. Ruby was a two-time 1st place winner in not only the Maryland State Music Teachers Association (MSMTA) Violin Solo Competition but also the MSMTA Piano Concerto Competition. The placings culminated in a joint concert with the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra in which Ruby performed both as concertmaster of the orchestra and also as the first-place winner of the State piano competition.
During this time, she worked for many years as a Teacher Assistant to her private teachers, Hyun Park (piano) and Judy Silverman (violin) and tutored fellow students from their respective studios.

As Ruby prepared for her continued studies, she was awarded a $12,000 scholarship as a Maryland Distinguished Scholar Finalist and a $56,000 scholarship as a recipient of the Linehan Artist Scholarship at the University of Maryland, where she ultimately received her Bachelor of Arts in Violin Performance.
Since graduating, she has relocated to New York City, where she is continuing to perform and teach. Ruby has recently performed in Carnegie Hall as a violin soloist in three separate concerts with the China Arts Foundation International Orchestra. Last month, she also performed as a soloist at Historic St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church with the New York Virtuosi and the Salvatones. 



Sam Decker: Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Piano teacher

Sam Decker: Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Piano teacher

Sam Decker moved to Brooklyn, New York, in early 2012, and has since been playing straight-ahead jazz, contemporary jazz/improvised music, free improvisation, as well as rock and folk music in the New York music scene. Drawing from sources such as Stravinsky, Mark Turner, Deerhoof, and Elliot Smith, his music is both familiar and unfamiliar.

Originally from the Chicago area, Sam attended New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Moses, Ken Radnofsky, John McNeil, Frank Carlberg, and Cecil McBee. He also studied contemporary classical composition and improvisation with Katarina Miljkovic. During this time Sam was selected to perform with John Hollenbeck, Dave Holland, Jason Moran, Lee Konitz, and under Christian Wolff during residencies, and was featured on New England Conservatory’s Jazz 40th Anniversary CD.

Sam is a founding member of Green and Glass(, co leads the Decker/LoRe quartet( with Alex LoRe, and leads an instrumental group called Shrove. In addition, Sam is part of the Logan Strohsal Group, who’s first record “Up Go We” is released on Sunyside records, as well as other folk and instrumental projects and collaborations.

Sam has been teaching privately in addition to working with various music programs in New York and New Jersey since 2012.


Marc Velez Photo.jpg

Marc Velez is a guitarist and educator currently living Union City, New Jersey. His approach to music is characterized by a strong inclination to explore new concepts regardless of genre, which has resulted in experience in various forms jazz, rock, and classical music. He is drawn to the guitar for its versatility, and emphasizes the fundamentals of technique in order to be fully expressive in each performance situation. 

He is a graduate of NJCU’s jazz performance program, where he was able to study under esteemed musicians and educators such as Paul Meyers, Allen Farnham, and Walt Weiskopf and shared the stage with fantastic performers such as Ingrid Jensen and Steve Wilson. He was also afforded opportunities to travel — in 2015, he spent a week as part of a quartet in Mumbai, India to represent NJCU at the True School of Music. He participated in various master classes and performances, including a night at the Blue Frog. 

Marc currently spends his time performing and teaching privately throughout northern New Jersey.