Jeff Hellmer

Jeff HellmerJeff Hellmer, jazz pianist and educator, has enjoyed a long and vibrant career. Twice named a finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, he has performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe and the Far East. His recording, Peak Moments, was declared an “exciting addition to the modern jazz piano catalog” by the All Music Guide. He has been a soloist and guest conductor with the Dallas Wind Symphony eight times, in repertoire ranging from Stravinsky to Bill Evans.

Before coming to Maui, Hellmer was Director of Jazz Studies and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he led the UT Jazz Orchestra in performances at the North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals, as well as appearances with jazz masters such as Chris Potter, Maria Schneider, Joshua Redman, John Clayton, and Kenny Garrett. He developed a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in Jazz Appreciation that was received with critical acclaim on the EdX platform, with an enrollment of over 19,000 students! His former jazz piano students have garnered impressive recognition for their creativity and individuality.

Phil Smith

Phil SmithPhil Smith was born in Memphis, Tennessee; the Home of the Blues. That city influenced his career as a musician and lover of jazz and blues for over 40 years. He grew up in Blytheville, Arkansas and started playing the clarinet when he was 8 years old. His older brother Joe was already paling the accordion and with the addition of his younger brothers, Mark and David, they formed the Smith Brothers Combo in their home town. The began to play for talent shows, beauty pageants, services clubs and other functions in the community. His brothers are still active in the Memphis music scene today.