2024 All-State Jazz Directors

Dean Sorensen, 1A/2A Director

Dean Sorenson is Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota as well as a prolific and highly sought-after composer, arranger, trombonist, educator, and clinician. Dean’s latest recording project is COLORS OF THE SOUL, an album of original music for sextet. His most recent publications include THE TOTAL JAZZ THEORY WORKBOOK, EXCELLENCE IN JAZZ PEDAGOGY, and FIRST PLACE FOR JAZZ, a new and innovative method for beginning jazz players. He is the co-author of the STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE JAZZ ENSEMBLE METHOD and ADVANCED JAZZ ENSEMBLE METHOD, an innovative and comprehensive series for middle school and high school jazz ensembles published by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company. He is also the author of JAZZ COMBO SESSION and FIRST JAZZ PERFORMANCE, also under the Standard of Excellence banner. He is frequently featured at festivals and conventions around the country and abroad. He also maintains a full schedule of concert and recording dates as a Yamaha performing artist.

Mr. Sorenson has composed and arranged for numerous ensembles including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Airmen of Note, and the Minnesota Orchestra. He is active as a commissioned composer and arranger for jazz ensemble, symphony orchestra, concert band, and chamber ensembles, and has also written several sacred choral pieces. For more information, please visit www.deansorensonmusic.com.

Michele Fernández, 3A Director

Michele Fernández is an active clinician/guest conductor, composer and performer. Her original works for jazz and wind ensemble are available through Hal Leonard, Excelcia/Kendor, Doug Beach, JW Pepper, Print Music Source/Jazz Zone, and Michele Fernández/GiraSoul Music. Her works have been performed (as well as clinics presented) at Midwest, CBDNA, JEN, IAJE, various MEA’s All-State/Regional bands. Michele serves ensembles of all ages across the country through virtual or in-person clinics and Artist-in-Residence events. She recently retired from teaching after 30 years, where her Miami Senior High ensembles earned top honors and gained international acclaim despite being a Title One school with practically no resources. Her groups have been selected for appearances at the Midwest Clinic (Chicago ’93 & ’98), IAJE (Boston ’94, NY ’97), Montreux Jazz Fest (Switzerland ’96), FMEA and national publications. Michele has featured on “CBS Sunday Morning”, Band Director’s Guide and Downbeat Magazine. She has also taught SPED, ESOL, HS English and Chemistry. Before focusing on writing, she served as an oboist in the Miami area, and spent several years as a rhythm section member of a busy local Afro-Latin/Jazz ensemble. As a clinician/composer: Michele views writing and clinics as an opportunity to discuss important aspects of life while also focusing on the art form of performance, and in so doing, to help others gain more self-confidence and an increased awareness of compassion for others that will lead to success in all areas of life.

Colleen Clark, 4A Director

Founder and Artistic Director of the University of South Carolina’s Jazz Girls Day, Dr. Colleen Clark is an Assistant Professor of Jazz at the University of South Carolina where she teaches her drumset studio, jazz history and research courses, coordinates and coaches small ensembles, and conducts Swing Shift Big Band.

Clark can be heard playing on Michael Dease’s “The Other Shoe: The Music of Gregg Hill” (Origin), Allegra Levy’s “Lose My Number: The Music of John McNeil” (SteepleChase), and upcoming releases by Michael Dease and Matt White. Clark was invited by the ASCAP Foundation to lead her band, the Colleen Clark Collective, at the Kennedy Center. Her latest project, “CC + The Adelitas” performed to a packed house at the 2023 Jazz Education Network Conference and will be recording their debut album with 2x GRAMMY Award winning drummer and producer, Quentin E. Baxter serving as co-producer.

Clark is author of the frequently accessed (3,000+) dissertation: “The Evolution of the Ride Cymbal Pattern from 1917 to 1941: An Historical and Critical Analysis.” Dr. Clark is the only woman and drummer to earn a doctoral degree in jazz from the University of North Texas. Clark endorses: Zildjian, Vic Firth, REMO and Mono.