Meet the Heads of Jazz
DOUG MUNRO, MFA ’94, guitarist, founder and first Head of Jazz Studies
I came to Purchase College in 1989 as a part-time instructor to teach private students and jazz electives through the Studio Composition department. I loved teaching at Purchase! In 1992, our Dean of Music, Donald Steven, asked me if I would be interested in creating an undergrad and masters course of study in Jazz. After designing the curriculum and getting it approved we started the Jazz Studies program in 1993. The program started with 10 internal transfer students. I ran the program for 10 years through its initial growing pains. In 1998 I got permission to make a new full-time hire. After reviewing over 90 applicants we selected Dr. Todd Coolman. In 2003, Todd took over as the Head of Jazz Studies. Through his expert guidance the program was elevated to international prominence. After stepping down as Head, I used my newly acquired free time to more aggressively pursue my performance career. As I start my final year at Purchase I am honored to see the Jazz Studies Program continue its tradition of excellence under the new leadership of Prof. Pete Malinverni. It has been my distinct pleasure to serve our students.
TODD COOLMAN, Ph.D, bassist and second Head of Jazz Studies
After coming to Purchase in the fall of 1998 I taught most of the courses in the jazz studies curriculum at one time or another. At the invitation of Doug Munro, I accepted the position of Director of Jazz Studies in 2003 and served in that capacity for 10 years. Shortly thereafter, I became half-time instead of full-time in order to pursue performing opportunities and other activities of interest outside of music.
I am now performing and recording on a regular basis in New York City and around the world as both a bassist for some of today’s leading jazz artists, and also as a leader of groups of my own design. I have also managed to carve out ample time to spend in the Natural World, pursuing relevant interests in that environment as well.
Now in our 25th year, a relatively young age for a collegiate jazz studies program, I believe we have become positioned as one of the leading programs within public education in the world. With a world-class faculty at the helm, we have steadily continued to “raise the bar” as evidenced by the growing level of professional success and visibility of our alumni.
PETE MALINVERNI, MM ’00, pianist/composer, current Head of Jazz Studies
I moved to NYC in my early 20s, thinking that, it I never tried to make it in the Big Town, I’d always wonder whether I could’ve done so. After a few years in the City, with a performing/recording career established, my thoughts turned to sharing what I’d been learning – and in 1999, after professorial stops elsewhere, my longtime colleague Dr. Todd Coolman invited me to Purchase.
I’ve been very happy here, becoming Head of Jazz in 2012, following the 10-year tenures in that post of Dr. Coolman and, previously, program founder Doug Munro. When I first got here, I decided to get my Master’s degree, studying Counterpoint and Piano with famed keyboardist/composer Anthony Newman. During my time at Purchase, I’ve come to appreciate the high quality of work being done by the three programs in our Conservatory of Music, Jazz, Classical and Music & Technology, as well as that done in the Film, Dance and Visual Arts programs also found here. It’s a rigorous but supportive crucible for creative thought and I love being part of it.
The most enlivening thing part of being part of Jazz@Purchase is our always engaged and inspiring students. As I see their tremendous growth at school, abetted by our dedicated and experienced faculty, and as I see them working out their skills in the Jazz Mecca that is New York City, I know we’re doing right, that the future is secure. I’m honored and thrilled to be part of helping to usher in what I believe is a new Golden Age of Jazz!
Todd Coolman speaking on his teaching philosophy