Jeff Claassen

Associate Professor

For media inquiries, please contact Media Relations

Trumpeter, composer, and educator Dr. Jeff Claassen has performed, recorded, and toured globally, playing such venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Montreux Jazz Festival, Fenway Park, The Village Vanguard, The Panama Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Boston’s Wang Theater, and San Francisco’s Warfield Theater. Appearing on dozens of albums recording jazz, classical, rock, world music, film scores, and video game music, Jeff has performed with a diverse group of notable names including Miguel Zenón, Dave Liebman, Paquito D’Rivera, Bob Brookmeyer, Esperanza Spalding, Antonio Sánchez, Billy Childs, Sean Jones, John Fedchock, and Gunther Schuller.

Jeff received his doctorate and master’s degrees from New England Conservatory of Music in composition and jazz studies, where he studied with jazz legend Bob Brookmeyer along with Lee Hyla and John McNeil. Jeff has toured with Bob Brookmeyer and his New Art Orchestra, Mehmet Sanlikol’s What's Next ensemble, and is the lead trumpet player in the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, the Fernando Huergo Big Band, and Eguie Castrillo's Mar Del Norte salsa band. He can also be found playing in pit orchestras and live shows at theaters throughout Boston and New England. Jeff Claassen has given clinics and master classes globally, from Australia and Malaysia, to Colombia and Panama. 

Career Highlights
  • Member of the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, Fernando Huergo Big Band, Eguie Castrillo's "Mar del Norte," and Paquito D'Rivera Big Band
  • Performances with Bob Brookmeyer, Paquito D'Rivera, George Russell, Gunther Schuller, and Artie Shaw
  • Toured with Mehmet Sanlikol's "What's Next" with Antonio Sanchez, Miguel Zenon, Anat Cohen, and Dave Liebman; Bob Brookmeyer's "New Art Orchestra;" and Paquito D'Rivera's Big Band
  • B.M., California State University
  • M.M., New England Conservatory
  • D.M.A., New England Conservatory
In Their Own Words

"I’m teaching two MAT classes, which are the big four-hour-a-week courses teaching ear training, harmony, arranging, basic writing skills, etc. You can actually look at a piece of music and explain every detail, from bassline writing, drum writing, intervalid structures, open and closed melodies—all that."

"Students deal with these varying perspectives all the time. If you’re looking at a band, you have to communicate and explain to the drummer, ‘I want a rock groove.’ What does that mean? That’s the whole spectrum of what we hear on the radio. To actually know and be able to show him, how can you do that if you’re a trumpet player? Show that I thought about your instrument enough to be able to communicate with you. It’s a very application-oriented approach to harmony."

"If I’m speaking to you, you can write out the sentences. Why can’t you do that when I play music for you? Why can’t you write it out in solfège? Why can’t you play it back to me on your instrument? It’s a language. You speak music, right? Fortunately they’re at Berklee, so they can be immersed in this musical language."

"I’m a composer and a trumpet player. I play a lot around town. My experiences gigging cover such a wide range, and I like sharing that with students. Even if it’s talking about playing a gig over the weekend where the music was so horribly notated that I couldn’t read it. I explain, ‘Learn to notate this stuff; otherwise, you’re going to get a horrible performance.’"