West Coast News

September 1, 2017

Michael Semanick ’85

Northern California alumni are abuzz with news of their work in a variety of areas. Here are some recent highlights.

Benjamin Flint ’85 of Oakland led two Diablo Valley College jazz choirs Reno Jazz Festival where they took first and third places in their division. Flint also directs the Oakland Jazz Choir and has taught at Jazz Camp West.

This fall, saxophonist Sonya Jason ’85 of Montara, will release Feels So Good: Live in Half Moon Bay, her fourth solo album. Recorded live at the legendary jazz venue Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, the album is a tribute to influential contemporary jazz artists of the 1970s and 1980s.

Michael Semanick ’85 of San Rafael is a re-recording mixer at Skywalker Sound. This year he worked on the films Lego Batman, Cars 3, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Coco. Semanick received the Cinema Audio Society award for best sound for his work on the animated film Finding Dory.

Kurt Ribak ’89 of Berkeley is completing his fifth recording as bandleader. The album will feature his tunes, upright bass playing, and vocals. Fellow alumni Russ Gold ’84 and Alan Hall ’79 are also featured on the album.

Matt Zebley ’93 of Concord, CA, is establishing himself as a jazz artist and educator in the Bay Area. Since 2013, he has been the director of jazz studies at Diablo Valley College. Last May, he received tenure in the Contra Costa Community College District.

Jordan Feinstein ’94 of San Francisco is an in-demand keyboard player working with numerous bands and recently played a gig with Phil Lesh, the bassist for the Grateful Dead. He also leads his own group, Jordan and the RituaL and operates a project studio called Studio 352.

Alex James Muscat ’94 of Daly City founded of Last Stop Records and has been producing and engineering recordings for Bay Area artists at 7th Chord Studio. In addition to performing locally with his band Tall Shadows, he has released four studio albums of original compositions. His latest album, Desire Paths, will be released in the fall.

David Rupley ’02 of Concord is the CEO of Cumulus Sky Music, and has composed music for seven albums as well as an orchestral piece. He operates his own publishing company and has written a movie screenplay.

Omar Ledezma Jr. ’04 of San Leandro, is a percussionist and singer for the Grammy-winning band Pacific Mambo Orchestra. He has released several albums in recent years and appears on videos featuring instruments from product manufacturers Soultone Cymbals and Pearl.

Jon Keilson ’06 of San Francisco is director of product at TuneIn, an on-demand internet radio service that provides listeners access to more than 100,000 terrestrial radio stations and 4 million podcasts streaming from around the globe.

Jeff Wheeler ’10 of Half Moon Bay is touring with the renowned Street Drum Corps in addition to playing shows with singer/songwriter Socorra and others. When he is not on the road, Wheeler maintains a full teaching schedule.

Alán Hensley ’15 of Oakland was recently named the head of the Latino department for EMPIRE Distribution, a large independent music company that focuses on urban music.

This article appeared in our alumni magazine, Berklee Today Fall 2017. Learn more about Berklee Today.
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