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 & Staff

Tom Manuel, President & Founder

Jazz historian, music educator and trumpet player Dr. Thomas Manuel received his formal music training from Boston University and completed his DMA in Jazz Performance at Stony Brook University. His mentors included Warren Vache and Ray Anderson. As the recent recipient of an endowed scholar in residence chair within the Jazz department at Stony Brook University, Manuel also holds an adjunct position at Suffolk Community College as well a faculty position with the Stony Brook University Young Artist Program directing their jazz program, in residence at the Jazz Loft. Manuel has been cited for his accomplishments by The New York Times, Downbeat Magazine, Newsday, Jazz Inside Magazine, Jazz Ed Magazine and has been featured with his Big Band ensemble on radio, television, as well as several CD albums. Most recently Manuel established a music program for under privileged students in Port Au Prince Haiti and he was also honored as the guest speaker for the graduation ceremony for the Greater Vision Christian School in New Kru Town, just outside the capital city of Monrovia in Liberia, Africa. During his time there he established a music program for the school and was fortunate to direct the students in their first concert. Manuel dedicates his professional efforts to both the preservation of Long Island’s jazz history as well as presenting it to future generations. He has taught in the public school system for over a decade, on the collegiate level, and served for many years as a member of the Suffolk County Music Educators Association (SCMEA) Executive Board. In May 2016 Manuel officially opened The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, NY. As its founder, curator and artistic director Manuel looks forward to this innovative and creative space which joins jazz performance, jazz preservation and jazz education in celebration of the past, present, and future. Manuel has received several honors for his dedication to the American born art form of Jazz including two Suffolk Country Proclamations and the 2016 Person of the Year in Brookhaven award. His most recent endeavor included an educational outreach to Havana, Cuba, collaborating with several top jazz artists, professors, producers and an independent film maker.

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.

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 and maintains 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.  She also manages TJL's Facebook, Pinterest, Google, Youtube and Instagram accounts, runs the on line box office,  is the liason for bands and coordinator for the volunteer/docent program.  She 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 independant films and currently (and most rewarding) Art Teacher in the Islip School District.  Please direct all band promotional material, media inquires, and emails regarding volunteering to 

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 CUNY 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.

Kathy Butkevich, Treasurer

Ms. Butkevich is a C-Level executive with an extensive track record of adding value to companies in diverse industries as a operating manager, private equity investor, lender and board director. She is proficient in the development and 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 at the financing arm of the General Electric Company, GE Capital. She began her career at KPMG and is 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.

Stewart Mandell

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

Michael Ardonlino, Board Member

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 Year" by Long Island Business News.

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.

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, Board Member


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. 


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 teaches trombone privately.


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