Photo of Khari Allen Lee
Khari Allen Lee
Jazz Instructor Jazz

As one of New Orleans’ most-in-demand artists, saxophonist, educator, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Khari Allen Lee has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Alvin Batiste, Ellis Marsalis, Edward ‘Kidd’ Jordan, Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin, Dr. John, Branford Marsalis, Allen Toussaint, DeeDee Bridgewater, Stevie Wonder, Terence Blanchard, the Treme Brass Band, Leah Chase, Herlin Riley, the Astral Project, Shannon Powell, Wes ‘Warmdaddy’ Anderson, Adonis Rose, Jason Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Bill Summers, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Ravi Coltrane, Kenny Barron & more. He is lead saxophonist & touring member of Delfeayo Marsalis’ Uptown Jazz Orchestra & a faculty member at the prestigious New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).

As leader, Khari Allen Lee & the New Creative Collective have released three albums, Conscious Evolution (2012), Our Great Awakening (2014) & A New Earth (2016), all to enthusiastic praise. In 2015, he was chosen as newest artist endorser of the family of Jody Jazz Mouthpieces & Rovner Ligatures.

He is featured on recordings with Grammy & Tony-winner DeeDee Bridgewater & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (DeeDee’s Feathers, 2015), NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra (Make America Great Again!, 2016), New Orleans legend Dr. John (Ske-Dat-De-Dat, The Spirit of Satch, 2014), The Treme Brass Band (New Orleans Music, 2008), & recently released albums by Grammy-winning, octogenarian blues man, Bobby Rush, & multi Grammy-winning trumpeter & composer Terence Blanchard (The Comedian [Original Motion Picture Sountrack], 2017). 

As an educator, Lee has served on the faculty of Tulane University, as Director of Music at the International School Moshi, Tanzania, East Afrika at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and as a clinician nationally and internationally. Lee currently serves in the Music Department at the prestigious New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA), and as Woodwind Specialist & Director of the Grown Folks Lab Band with the Musicollaborative, a community based music education service organization.

He earned his Bachelors of Science in Music Education from Auburn University, attended the Berklee College of Music as a scholarship recipient, graduating with an Artist Diploma in Professional Music, & earned his Masters of Music from the University of New Orleans as a member of the Louis Armstrong Quintet.

Photo of Michael Pellera
Michael Pellera
Music: Chair, Jazz: Assistant Chair, Jazz Piano and Composition, Jazz Combos Jazz

After studying at Berklee College of Music, Mr. Pellera has been a jazz educator serving New Orleans since 1989.  He taught jazz piano and improvisation for fifteen years at Loyola University before joining NOCCA’s faculty in 2002. In the last 25 years, he has lived in New Orleans and New York, giving his music a unique perspective that draws freely from the influences of the two cities.  As a composer he has created a body of work that encompasses modern jazz harmony, indigenous New Orleans rhythms, and elements of the classic American songbook of the 30’s & 40’s. He has released two critically acclaimed CD’s of his jazz compositions.  His first CD, “Cloud Nine” was released in 1997 and his second CD “Son of Sky” was released in 200l. Both CD’s featured a veritable of “who’s who” of the New Orleans modern jazz scene, such as, Bill Huntington, John Vidacovich, Steve Masakowski, Tony Dagradi, Bill Summers, James Singleton, and Phillip Manuel.  As an arranger and producer he has worked in a variety of contexts from trio to big band.  He has performed with a multitude of great jazz artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Buddy Rich, Branford Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, and Harry Connick Jr.  Some of his former students include Brian Blade, Jon Cowherd, Jonathan Batiste, Troy Andrews, Rich Vogel and others who have created distinguished careers for themselves with artists like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis, Liz Wright, Joni Mitchell, Lenny Kravitz, and Galactic

Photo of Michael Rihner
Michael Rihner
Music: Theory, Composition, History, Jazz Big Band, Jazz Combos Jazz

Receiving his B.A. from the University of New Orleans and M.M. from Louisiana State University, Michael Rihner studied jazz music with Ellis Marsalis and Harold Battiste and classical composition and theory with Jerry Sieg and Thomas Mitts, while at UNO.  He studied with Matthew Brown, Steve Beck and Dinos Constantinides while earning his Master of Music degree at LSU.  Rihner has been teaching in the NOCCA Music Department since 1997.  He taught music theory for five years at Loyola University College of Music, six years at Delgado Community College, and two years at Louisiana State University as a graduate assistant.  Rihner is currently the Music Composition professor at the University of New Orleans.  Rihner has received several composition awards, including the Southeastern Composers League Classical Composition Award and the Louisiana Jazz Composers Award sponsored in part by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation via Musicians for Music.  He has worked as a studio musician, producer, and arranger for many years at Festival Recordings Studios in Kenner LA, performing on dozens of various local recordings.  Rihner currently sings part-time with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus and is also currently an active member of the New Orleans Opera Chorus.  He has composed, performed, and produced several original compact discs of his own modern jazz works, performing several times with his fusion jazz group “Rhino” at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival as well as many other notable local music venues.  Rihner has also composed several full-scale orchestral suites and symphonic works, including the “New Orleans Suite” which was performed at world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York by GNOYO in 2009.  During the summer months, Rihner is the Entertainment Director and performs nightly in the historic hotels and lodges of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana.

Photo of Chris Severin
Chris Severin
Jazz Instructor Jazz

Chris Severin is an amazingly talented, versatile, and accomplished master-musician from the Treme area of New Orleans.  He graduated from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) in 1976 during its adolescence and later attended Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO) for music education.

The greats Alvin Batiste, Ellis Marsalis, and Walter Payton were all a part of Mr. Severin’s musical training.

A skilled teacher himself, Mr. Severin believes in and promotes consistent practice as the path to a musician’s success and pay off. His daily discourse often details music history, theory, and fundamentals.  In the business for over 30 years, Mr. Severin’s extensive client list includes many of the world’s most gifted singers and musicians including: Diane Reeves, Dr. John, Terrence Blanchard, Allen Toussaint, Bonnie Raitt, Nicholas Payton, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Lou Rawls, Alvin Batiste, Herlin Riley, Victor Goines, Irma Thomas and Kent Jordan.  Mr. Severin has played his seven string bass across the globe and is a frequent flyer for the top jazz recording companies such as Blue Note, Rounder, MCA, and Windham Hill Records.  He is a member of Union of New Orleans Musicians, AFM Local 174-496BMI, the co-owner of Chrisan Music, Lead Engineer at the Box Studios-Studio A, prior member of Windjammer, Vietnam, Allen Toussaint Band, and holds several sponsorships including Schecter Guitars and DR Strings.  Mr. Severin’s universal sound sets him apart. He plays seven-string and acoustic bass for all genres of music including R&B, jazz, and hip-hop. In his capacity as faculty member, Mr. Severin provides music, media arts, and jazz instruction, for the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA).  He also continues to provide private lessons on everything bass and is a teacher during the Sunday Youth Music Workshop at Tipitinas.