Mission and History

New: 1) Lately discovered. 2) Beginning or recurring afresh. 3) Changed in essence or constitution. 4) Different from that heretofore known. 5) Up to date.

Trad: Musicians' slang term for the early New Orleans jazz music of Buddy Bolden, Joseph "King" Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, and others.

Jeff Newell’s New-Trad projects are modern musical vehicles for the roots of American music.  Combining instruments and elements of a traditional New Orleans brass band with those of a modern jazz group, this ensemble explores the early sources of our nation’s musical heritage (church music, band music, blues, etc.) and combines these influences in ways that speak to and excite modern audiences.  Formed in 1994, the New-Trad sound has been brought to clubs, theaters, schools, festivals, and churches, thrilling audiences from the Atlantic to the Rockies.  “Brownstone,” the New-Trad Octet CD released in April of 2007, met with overwhelming response from the press and jazz radio community, starting as the #1 add and staying on the charts for over six weeks.

Venues to host Jeff Newell’s New-Trad Octet include:


saxophonist / composer / arranger / bandleader

Saxophonist Jeff Newell’s distinctive sound, original compositions, creative arrangements and wry sense of humor have earned the praise of jazz critics and audiences alike in the US and abroad. Newell’s New-Trad

Octet, formed in 1994 in time for Mardi Gras, not only provides an outlet for his skills as an arranger, composer and music director but also supports his interest in the rich musical history of New Orleans. Conceived to blend the traditional "second line" of the “Crescent City’s” brass band with a modern rhythm section and a fresh approach to harmony and improvisation, the New-Trad Octet applies the march beats and instrumentation of early New Orleans parade bands to a wide range of music.  It also incorporates the spontaneity and surprise of modern jazz to Sousa marches, hymns, and the other popular 19th-century music that form the basis of modern American music. As The Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich observed: "Of the various bands that saxophonist Jeff Newell leads, none is more compelling, nor more original, than his New-Trad Octet.”

Born in 1955, in Kansas City, MO, Newell was raised in rural Nebraska and earned a B.A. in music conferred with distinction from the University of Nebraska and after a year of graduate school moved to Chicago in 1978 where he began performing in local jazz clubs and festivals.  His professional experience began in earnest when he joined the Neoclassic Jazz Orchestra with which he toured Europe. Upon his return Newell soon became a fixture of the Chicago jazz scene, performing in the “Windy City’s” jazz venues and working with many of its best-known musicians. 

Newell has performed on numerous Chicago Jazz Festival stages (in 1993, 1995, and 2012 with his own groups) and has fronted his own band on the jazz stage of Chicagofest. In April 1993 his quartet was awarded second place in the Cognac Hennessy Jazz Search "Best of Chicago" contest, out of over 60 entries.  He has also played the Jazz Oasis at Milwaukee's Summerfest, the Elkhart Jazz Festival, and many other Midwestern jazz events. In 1991, 1994 and 2006 Newell was invited back to Nebraska to perform as a guest soloist with the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra.  In 1989 he received a National Endowment for the Arts jazz fellowship to study in New York with Dave Leibman having previously studied in Chicago for two years with saxophonist Bunky Green and for a year with saxophonist Joe Daley.

Newell moved to New York City in 1994 to take advantage of the opportunities only the “Mecca of Jazz” can provide. He appears with his octet and quartet at clubs and festivals throughout the US while still occasionally enjoying the role of sideman with artists such as Kevin Mahogany (with whom he played the Newport Jazz Festival in Madarao, Japan) and Marshall Vente.  Jeff was a founding member of the Birdland Big Band, playing weekly at the Birdland Jazz Club for over eight years with the band and it’s predecessor, The Lew Anderson Big Band.  Newell’s other credits include performances and/or recordings with Ron Carter, Cedar Walton, Phil Woods, Charles Earland, Houston Person, Brian Culbertson, Johnny Coles, Von Freeman, Ira sullivan, Paul Wertico, Paul Smoker, Bobby Broom, Fareed Haque, Richie Cole, Don Menza, Ed Shaunessy, Bill Watrous, Giacamo Gates, Terance Blanchard, and Bobby Watson, among others.

In addition to conducting clinics, master classes and judging at student jazz festivals, Newell is on the faculty of the Brooklyn Music School, where he teaches woodwinds, jazz improvisation, coaches jazz ensembles and is Coordinator of the Jazz Faculty as well as Woodwind Department Chair.  While in Chicago he taught college courses at the American Conservatory of Music from 1990 to 1992.  Newell is also the music director at Resurrection Clinton Hill church in Brooklyn.

Selected Discography:

2002Marshall Vente: "Mashall Law," Middlecoast 003

2002Eldee Young & Marshall Vente: "Mic Up to the Step," Middle Coast 004

1998Jeff Newell: "Jack the Ripper," IGMOD Records - IGM49806-2

1992Damon Short: "All of the Above," Southport Records - S-SSD 0028

1991Charles Earland: "Whip Appeal," Muse Records - MC5409

1990Andre Caporaso: Pathways," Blue Room Records - BRR005

1987Guy Fricano: "The New York Sessions," AFP Records - GF81242

Jeff Newell uses and endorses Rico Reeds and woodwind accessories made by D’Addario & Co.

1974 in Blair, NE

1993 in Chicago, IL

2003 in Brooklyn, NY

photo by Schector Lee

  1. NBC’s Today Show

  2. Brooklyn Acadamy of Music

  3. The Morgan Library & Museum (NYC)

  4. The Green Mill (Chicago)

  5. Jazz in June (Lincoln, NE)

  6. Bargemusic (NYC)

  7. Hofstra Univ. (Hempstead, NY)

  8. The Redstone Room (Davenport, IA)

  1. Brooklyn Museum of Art

  2. Fitzgerald’s (Berwyn, IL)

  3. Vaudeville Mews (Des Moines, IA)

  4. Centenary Theater (Hackettstown, NJ)

  5. The Jazz Showcase (Chicago)

  6. Saint Peter’s Church (NYC)

  7. Spencer Area Concert Assoc. (Spencer, IA)

  8. Hudson River Museum (Yonkers, NY)

2009 in NYC

Photo by Nathalie Schueller