Ramsey Castaneda. tenor saxophone
BA University of North Texas
MA Cal State Long Beach
PhD USC Thornton School of Music
Mission Jazz' strength is that it corrects so many issues that are present in modern day education through typical universities.
Mercedes Beckman, saxophones
BA University of North Florida
MA Manhattan School of Music
Winnie Swalley – La Doña (that's Spanish for, The Doña) – is a music educator, opera singer, writer, production/interior designer. From her beginnings as a news clerk at New York Newsday in 1985, Winnie has taken a long journey through a wide range of artistic mediums. She was educated in Comparative Literature at Columbia University; studied Vocal Performance in the private studio of Elizabeth Mannion as well as her studios in Juilliard and the UCSB Vocal Institute. While her primary musical instrument is voice, Winnie also plays the clarinet and tuba.
She was also raised in a family of artists, studying in the studios of her elder siblings, especially her sister, Gigi Ferrante and late brother, Ahbé Sulit. While she developed her drawing and painting skills under him, she began to find her own expression in stage design and later, photography. She followed her film curiosities through the UCLA screenwriting program and technical training in all departments of the film making industry at Los Angeles Film School. Winnie is a wife and mother of two sons. She is currently working on a book titled Redemption Songs - A Mother and Son’s Story of the Transition from Mental Illness, Addiction and Prison to Individual Freedom with her son and co-writer Dylan Swalley, who has returned home from eight years of California State Prison. Winnie is also developing music compositions and recordings with her son, Harrison Swalley and her students in her studio Mission Jazz.
Winnie pushes you to another level... another level and I've never been really been pushed like that.
Rodney Dominick Rocques Jr., drums
Berklee College of Music
Presidential Scholar at McNally Smith College of Music
Mission Jazz was one of the best experiences of my life, and I can't wait to go back when I'm not swamped with school! It was amazing to get to be mentored by one of today's best jazz artists and make music with some of the most talented young people on the scene today. I still play with my fellow Mission Jazzers and can't wait to put together projects in the future.
The business classes were top notch and very practical and address needs that other programs never touch on. Mission Jazz is all about love and respect- for each other, for music, for life, set by the tone and personal care of Winnie Swalley. I'm so grateful that I got to experience such a wonderful program; it was one of the best times of my life!
Founder and Director
It's all love... Mission Jazz is ALL LOVE.