Band Member Bios

(Founding Member) Hailed by The New York Times for her “delirious abandon” onstage, versatile vocalist MELISSA (“Missy”) FOGARTY’s wide-ranging experience has led her to appear at diverse New York City venues ranging from New York City Opera to popular clubs such as Joe's Pub and City Winery. From opera to jazz, from early music to yiddish songs, Missy sings just about everything. She began her career singing children's roles with the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera. As an adult, she appeared in NYCO’s productions of King Arthur, andDie Zauberflöte. She is also an accomplished baroque and new music interpreter. Missy is the vocalist in two highly acclaimed Klezmer bands, Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos. She is also a member of Pomerium, an early music vocal ensemble at the forefront of renaissance polyphony performance practice for over 40 years.

At the Eastman School of Music, where she and Debra Kreisberg went to college, Debra introduced Missy to a wide variety of classic jazz recordings. Missy was hooked and began listening to jazz incessantly, and has been doing so ever since. Taking her exploration of jazz to a deeper level, she received a certificate in jazz improvisation in a course with vibraphonist Gary Burton. With The Highliners, Missy surprises listeners with her highly-developed ability to scat. Jazz style and improvisation is a natural fit for her due to her innate ability to play music by ear. (Photo credit - Albie Mitchell)


(Founding Member) Saxophonist/clarinetist DEBRA KREISBERG performs, composes, arranges and records with the New York City-based Latin jazz ensemble, Los Mas Valientes and the award-winning klezmer ensembles, Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos, with whom she has toured in the U.S., Canada and in Europe. She is the leader/co-leader of two jazz projects, East Harlem Trio, and The Highliners Jazz Quintet, and is a member of the new Latin-jazz big band, Bronx Conexión, led by master percussionist/composer Victor Rendón. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a masters in jazz performance from Manhattan School of Music, Debra has performed with renowned singer-songwriters Natalie Merchant, Jill Sobule and Rachelle Garniez; jazz luminaries Harvie S, Chuck Redd, Sheryl Bailey and Tommy Campbell; the Rochester Philharmonic; and Taylor Mac's 24-Decade History of Popular Music at St. Ann's Warehouse. Debra freelances widely throughout New York City, and her playing and compositions have been heard on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN Worldbeat, WBGO, SiriusXM Radio, Ebru TV’s Rhythm and Roots and on Showtime's The L Word.

An equally accomplished educator,  Debra serves on the faculty of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, Bronx House School for Performing Arts. the Trinity School, and as a teaching artist for 92nd Street Y. She also previously served as Managing Director of Educational Outreach at 92Y, developing and implementing arts programming for more than 3,000 students in 27 New York City public schools.  (Photo credit - Kerry Kehoe)

(Founding Member)  STEVE NEWMAN  studied with piano greats Lennie Tristano, Connie Crothers, Dave Frank, and Matthew Fries. He has composed and produced music for HBO performed by Ron Carter, Michael Lorant, and others. A life-long New Yorker, Steve grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, just blocks from where Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson first jammed together in 1934.

Guest Artists

(Founding Member) Bassist ADAM KAHAN has played music ranging from jazz to ska to musette and more. While living in San Francisco, Adam performed with free jazz legend Sonny Simmons, and helmed his own working band, Orson County Line, which played music encompassing a wide array of genres. Adam is a founding member of The Highliners Jazz Quintet, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he also makes documentary films, often focusing on jazz musicians, including Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Junior Mance and Buster Williams. His award winning film,The Case of the Three-Sided Dream, recounts the music and life of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and has been featured at major international film festivals in the U.S. and in Europe to widespread critical acclaim.

(Founding Member) Drummer TOMMY MATTIOLI is a multi-faceted musician also well known in the world of Latin percussion and salsa.  He is currently a member of Tito Rivera's Grupo Latin Vibe.  Born in Rochester, NY he received his degree in percussion from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  Seminal moments of inspiration include seeing  Eddie Palmieri at the 1986 Chicago Jazz Festival and having Tito Puente borrow his vibes for a gig he needed to play in Madison.  Tommy currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

(Guest Artist)  A consummate freelancer, IAN HUTCHISON has played over 2,000 gigs in his career, and has performed in Western Europe, Canada, Japan, Argentina, and Russia.  He is one of the most in-demand bass players in the US for swing dances and large swing dance events.