The History of The Jazz Loft


The Jazz Loft officially opened in May of 2016. Originally built in 1941, the building was the Suffolk Museum, now the Long Island Museum. Philanthropist Ward Melville, owner of Thom McAnn shoes, designed all of Stony Brook Village, including the Suffolk Museum. At the time Stony Brook Village

was the first pre-designed shopping center in the United States of America. 
The Suffolk Museum was actually two older structures that existed in other parts of the town. The larger part of the building was the original 1909 Firehouse and the smaller part was a circa 1850s structure dubbed the "Stone Jug" because of its stone exterior. Mr. Melville moved both buildings to their current site, joined them together, and in doing so added one of the many outstanding venues the village prides itself in having. 
After the Suffolk Museum moved up the road and became the Long Island Museum, the building served as the Garden Exchange for roughly 40 years. A consignment and antique center run by the Garden Club, many people found wonderful treasures there that still adorn their homes.

After a ten year vacancy the Jazz Loft is the third tenant in the buildings 75 year history. 
The Jazz Loft's mission is one of Jazz preservation, education, and performance, and has quickly become the premier destination for all things Jazz. Presenting a full performance calendar of local, national and international artists in our period 1940s second floor performance space the Loft also has an extensive education program. Our Pre College Jazz Institute in collaboration with Stony Brook University offers training in jazz theory, performance and masterclass settings to outstanding high school musicians. Our Young at Heart program offers music therapy presentations for those with memory loss and their caregivers. A monthly lecture series and scheduled family concerts round out our community outreach endeavors which are due in part to an outstanding team of sponsors and community leaders. The Jazz Lofts final mission point is that of preservation which is alive and well and on view 24/7 in our 6,000 square feet of original jazz memorabilia spanning 100 years of the American born art form celebrating not only the music, but art and photography as well throughout our many galleries. 

Board of Directors


Tom Manuel, President & Founder

Jazz historian, music educator and cornet player Dr. Thomas Manuel holds the endowed Artist in Residence chair within the Jazz department at Stony Brook University. In addition to this he serves as a trustee to the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation, is the Artistic Director of the Loft School of Jazz, is a member of the Huntington Arts Council Decentralization Advisory Committee, and is the founder and President of The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, N.Y., an innovative and creative space which joins jazz performance, jazz preservation and jazz education in celebration of the past, present, and future.

Manuel has been cited for his accomplishments by The New York Times, Downbeat Magazine, Newsday, Jazz Inside Magazine, Jazz Ed Magazine and has been actively involved with global educational outreach to Havana, Cuba, Monrovia, Liberia and Port Au Prince, Haiti. Manuel dedicates his professional efforts to both the preservation of Long Island’s jazz history as well as presenting it to future generations and has received several honors for his dedication to the American born art form of Jazz including: Stony Brook Universities 40 Under 40 Award, several Suffolk Country Proclamations, the East End Arts & Humanities Council 2020 Music Masters residency, the 2019 Applied Improvisation Network International Conference artist presenter, and the 2016 Person of the Year in Brookhaven award from the Times Beacon Record.

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Ray Anderson, Vice President

Mr. Ray Anderson has distinguished himself as a preeminent jazz trombone player who has received international acclaim.

Currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Stony Brook University, Anderson still maintains a thriving performance and recording

career that has spanned more than three decades. Described by pre-eminent jazz critic Gary Giddins as "one of the most

compellingly original trombonists," and by the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD as ''the most exciting slide brass player of his

generation" Anderson is by turns a supremely lyrical player and footloose innovator, a bold texturalist and polished nostalgist.


Michael Ardolino, Director of Development

Michael, owner of Team Ardolino/Realty Connect USA, resides in Setauket with his wife and two daughters. He is a recognized expert in his field who was named "Residential Real Estate Agent of the Yer" by Long Island Business News.​


Kathy Butkevich, Treasurer

Ms. Butkevich is a C-Level executive with an extensive track record of adding value to companies in diverse industries as an operating manager, private equity investor, lender and board director. She is proficient in the development of execution of growth, turnaround and cash flow maximization strategies for middle market companies. She is currently the COO/CFO for Recyclebank, a VC-backed marketing company focused on the recycling industry. Over her 30+ year career, she has held numerous financial and operational leadership positions in middle market, PE/VC- backed companies as well as a Certified Public Accountant. She holds a Bachelors Degree from the University of Miami and is also a graduate of GE's world-renowned Management Development Institute at Crotonville.

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Laura Landor, Director of Education & Community Outreach

Laura has been a music educator for 20 years and currently works for the Hauppauge Public Schools as their Director of Fine and Performing Arts. Previously, she was a music teacher for the Three Village Public Schools where she primarily taught band, music theory and an exploratory music class for students with special needs. She has a Bachelors degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music as well as a Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology from CUNT Hunter College. She recently completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at St. John's University where her research focused on how the absence of multicultural music in public school music classrooms contributes to the marginalization of minority students in the public school setting.


Cyntha Wong Lippe, Board Member

Cynthia Wong Lippe is a passionate volunteer for a number of nonprofit organizations, working primarily in the areas of fundraising, institutional development, and strategic planning. She sits on multiple boards, serves as an advisor to several smaller nonprofits, and chairs the capital campaign to raise funds and awareness to build a Ronald McDonald House in Suffolk County.

She was trained as a classical pianist and has a PhD from Columbia University in Ethnomusicology. Her work focused on early Asian American rap music and on the rock scene in Mainland China. She’s taught at Columbia University and briefly at Stony Brook University.

Cynthia lives in East Setauket with her husband, David, and their two children.


Stewart Mandel, Board Member

Stewart is a lifelong student of Jazz and American Song. H has a PhD in Mathematics from Stony Brook University.

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Oliver Nelson Jr., Board Member

Oliver Nelson Jr. is an adjunct lecturer in music business at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education, a Master of Music degree in Classical Performance and Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Performance. Nelson studied with the late David Baker, Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies at Indiana University, Jonathan Keeble, flute professor at the University of Illinois, and Karen Moratz, principal flutist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

He has performed with the Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra and has recorded with Bela Fleck, Benny Golson, James Williams, Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, and Grady Tate for a tribute CD dedicated to his father, the late composer, arranger, and saxophonist Oliver Nelson Sr.

Nelson’s expertise in the areas of music copyrights, music licensing and music publishing have made him a sought after presenter at workshops and conferences nationwide at higher education institutions and school corporations. Nelson also presents Jazz improvisation clinics and continues to be an active performer and teacher.

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Chris Paradysz, Board Member

Chris Paradysz has been building connections with and between people for decades with notable success in Adventure Travel, Digital Marketing, Advertising, Data Analytics, Film and Music. He is the Co-founder & co-CEO of PMX, a performance marketing agency, an active venture investor in startups (Adventure Explorations, PebblePost) and in various music industries (VCI, Delvecchio, Articulate Passion Publishing, Chase the Moon Music); as well as a documentary film producer (A Second Chance, For the First Time), with Gold wins for Best Short Documentary, Film Score, Original Song.

Beyond business endeavors, Chris brings his passions and support to nonprofit ventures specifically in medical research, investigating new outcomes and treatments for Lupus, a life- threatening disease affecting young women and men. Chris holds the US 24-hour cycling record at the Lehigh County Velodrome.

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Dr. Darrell Smith, Board Member

New York City native Dr. Darrell Smith is a New York based Drummer, Historian, Composer and Educator. As a band leader Dr. Smith frequently performs with his Dal Segno Trio at popular New York venues where they are celebrated for high-energy, spirited performances. A recent tour brought the Dal Segno Trio to Mumbai, India as a headliner for the 2019 NCPA Jazz Festival.

As a composer and drummer, Dr. Smith also has extensive experience with musical theater in Off-Broadway and national productions. His original music for the New Orleans-themed
play “Interludes” was featured in multiple off broadway runs in New York City. In addition to working as a band leader and drummer, Dr. Smith is a highly-respected and gifted educator. His current tenure as Director of Jazz Education and Performance at the world renowned education program at Jazz House Kids has given him a platform to spread his passion for jazz to hundreds of talented young musicians around the city.

Dr. Smith recently graduated with his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from SUNY Stony Brook where he studied under Director of Jazz Studies Ray Anderson. As of 2019, Dr. Smith is endorsed by Canopus Drums and in 2021 was named Music Director of The Universal Temple of The Arts Annual Staten Island Jazz Festival.


Rob Taylor, Business Affairs

Rob has more than 40 years of business and accounting experience with a broad array of not-for-profit clients, including

business management of a not-for-profit organization. He has worked with senior nonprofit executives to develop and implement strategic plans, three-year financial plans, and critical performance measures. In addition, he has overseen cross-departmental process improvement and led software implementation design and structure projects. Rob also has significant experience advising business corporations and partnerships.


Laura Vogelsberg, Director of Communications

Laura designed the website for The Jazz Loft. She also curates the Bernard Seeman Gallery; a gallery dedicated in her great uncle's name which showcases his extensive photography work. This collection contains many never before seen photos of prominent Jazz musicians. Laura holds a BS in Communications from Hofstra University and a Masters in Education from Dowling. Her background is diverse, having held positions as an Account Executive at SBA Advertising and Daily & Associates/Los Angeles, Talent Coordinator at Lifetime Television, Freelance Artist for several local Long Island companies advertising campaigns, Production Assistant & Assistant Editor on several independent films and currently (and most rewarding) Art Teacher in the Islip School District.


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Victoria Kochetova

Victoria Kochetova, Jazz Loft PR & Marketing intern, will be graduating from Stony Brook University, studying Business Administration Marketing and Psychology. She is very passionate about music and is very proud to contribute to the Jazz Loft's mission. Victoria is also a local musician, singing acoustically at a variety of Long Island restaurants & venues. 


Lucy Gluck, Grant Writer

Using her extensive experience writing and managing grants and her long love and commitment to jazz, Lucy Gluck works with the Director to find and write grants for The Jazz Loft from government and foundation sources. This partnership has been successful in many grants to Suffolk County, NYSCA, Huntington Arts Council, Gardiner Foundation and more. Ms. Gluck retired from Stony Brook University after more than twenty-five years writing and overseeing grants from New York State and The National Science Foundation for underrepresented minority and low-income high school and college students.

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Susan Laskowski, Director of Marketing

Susan coordinates the radio and print marketing for The Jazz Loft. A long time Jazz enthusiast, avid traveler and active member of Swing Dance Long Island, Sue also finds time to volunteer weekly at TJL.


Terry Nigrelli, Webmaster

Terry maintains the Jazz Loft Web site. Terry is the former Bay Shore Schools Director of Cultural Arts and is the Web Editor for NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) He is also a busy freelance trombone player and private teacher.

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Jeremy Torres, Marketing Production Manager

Jeremy helps to coordinate with other marketing volunteers efforts. A recent graduate of Stony Brook University, Jeremy has backgrounds in Business Marketing, Asian American Studies and Graphic Design allowing him to both spearhead or provide support for The Jazz Loft's Marketing volunteers.


Carole Trottere, Director of Public Relations

Carole coordinates the public relations and intern program for The Jazz Loft. With more than 30 years experience in public relations, Carole is now retired and spends her time promoting TJL, riding her bike and sleeping late.

Youth Board


Dan Julian

Dan is a sophomore at Stony Brook University in the Honors College pursuing a double major in physics and applied mathematics and statistics. Dan grew up on Long Island in Shoreham. He is a saxophone player primarily interested in jazz music and has played with Stony Brook’s big band, the Blowage, for the past four years. Whether it is at weekly jam sessions or for Stony Brook concerts, Dan enjoys playing at the Jazz Loft. 


President and Founder Tom Manuel:

Promotion, Media,  Band Information: Laura Vogelsberg:

Education and Community Outreach Programs, Laura Landor:

Volunteer Opportunities:

Office Manager, Andrea Carros:

Because Jazz Is Improvisational,

It Celebrates Personal Freedom And

Encourages Individual Expression

Because Jazz Is Swinging,

It Dedicates That Freedom To Finding And

Maintaining Common Ground With Others

Because Jazz Is Rooted In The Blues,

It Inspires Us To Face Adversity With Persistent Optimism


Our Mission At The Jazz Loft Is Best Served LIVE And SWINGIN’

- Tom Manuel, Founder