2020 CJF Judges

Notre Dame is proud to welcome a world-renowned group of jazz musicians as guest judges each year. Below are the bios for the distinguished panel of judges for the 2019 Collegiate Jazz Festival at the University of Notre Dame. 

Steve Turre

Ignacio Berroa
Robert Hurst
Ralph Moore
Otmaro Ruiz



One of the world’s preeminent jazz innovators, trombonist and seashellist Steve Turre, has consistently won both the Readers’ and Critics’ polls in JazzTimes, Downbeat, and Jazziz for Best Trombone and for Best Miscellaneous Instrumentalist (shells). Turre was born to Mexican-American parents and grew up in the San Francisco Bay area where he absorbed daily doses of mariachi, blues and jazz. While attending Sacramento State University, he joined the Escovedo Brothers salsa band, which began his career-long involvement with that genre.

In 1972 Steve Turre’s career picked up momentum when Ray Charles hired him to go on tour. A year later Turre’s mentor Woody Shaw brought him into Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. After his tenure with Blakey, Turre went on to work with a diverse list of musicians from the jazz, Latin, and pop worlds, including Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, J.J. Johnson, Herbie Hancock, Lester Bowie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Van Morrison, Pharoah Sanders, Horace Silver, Max Roach, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The latter introduced hum to the seashell as an instrument. Soon after that, while touring in Mexico City with Woody Shaw, Turre’s relatives informed him that his ancestors similarly played the shells. Since then, Turre has incorporated seashells into his diverse musical style.

In addition to performing as a member of the Saturday Night Live Band since 1984, Turre leads several different ensembles. Sanctified Shells utilizes the seashell in a larger context, transforming his horn section into a “shell choir”. Turre’s Spring 1999 Verve release, Lotus Flower, showcases his Sextet With Strings. The recording explores many great standards and original compositions arranged by Turre for a unique instrumentation of trombone and shells, violin, cello, piano, bass and drums. Turre’s quartet and quintet provide a setting based in tradition and stretching the limits conceptually and stylistically. In the Summer of 2000, Telarc released In The Spur of the Moment. This recording features Steve with three different quartets, each with a different and distinct master pianist: Ray Charles, Chucho Valdes, and Stephen Scott.

Turre’s self-titled Verve release pioneers a unique artistic vision, drawing upon jazz, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian sources. This innovative recording also features Cassandra Wilson, Randy Brecker, Graciela, Mongo Santamaria and J.J. Johnson. Previously Turre recorded Right There and Rhythm Within, featuring Herbie Hancock, Jon Faddis, Pharoah Sanders, and Sanctified Shells, on Verve’s subsidiary label, Antilles.

Steve Turre continually evolves as a musician and arranger. He has a strong command of all musical genres and when it comes to his distinct brand of jazz, he always keeps one foot in the past and one in the future. Back to Top

Ignacio Berroa has been recognized as one of the greatest drummers of our times. He was honored by inclusion in the 2011 Mp3 compilation entitled “Jazz Drumming Legends” which features some of the most renowned drummers in Jazz history.
Ignacio Berroa was born in Havana Cuba on July 8 1953.
He began his musical education at age 11 at the National School of Arts and subsequently at Havana’s National Conservatory, beginning his professional career in 1970. By 1975 Ignacio had become Cuba’s most sought after drummer.
In 1980 he left his country during the Mariel boatlift and settled in New York City where he met the great Cuban musician Mario Bauza who introduced him to Dizzy Gillespie.

In August 1981 Gillespie invited Ignacio to join his quartet.
Ignacio Berroa also took part of all the important bands Gillespie assembled during that decade such as: The Dizzy Gillespie 70th Anniversary Big Band, The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars Big Band and the Grammy Award winner, United Nation Orchestra. This relation lasted until Dizzy’s death.

Jazz Legend Dizzy Gillespie best defined Ignacio as: “… the only Latin drummer in the world in the history of American music that intimately knows both worlds: his native Afro Cuban music as well as Jazz…”
As an author and a renowned educator he made his mark with the instructional video: Mastering the Art of Afro–Cuban Drumming as well as the books: Groovin’ in Clave and A New Way of Groovin’. He also conducts clinics and master classes around the world.

Ignacio has recorded and played with musicians of the stature of:  McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry,  Lou Donaldson, Jackie McLean, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Jon Faddis, Slide Hampton, Michael Brecker,  Milt Jackson, Jaco Pastorius, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Tito Puente, Mario Bauzá, Lalo Schifrin, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Danilo Perez, Michel Camilo, Eliane Elias, Chico Bouarque, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins, Joao Bosco, Lenny Andrade, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, WDR Big Band and BBC Big Band to name a few. Back to Top


A Detroit native, Hurst has enjoyed a stellar career spanning 30 years, and is a highly respected and well recognized composer, electric and acoustic bassist, educator, recording artist, and business man. His cultivation into a membership of talented musicians from around the world was fostered by lengthy tours and GRAMMY® Award winning recordings featuring: Sir Paul McCartney, Charles Lloyd, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Harry Connick Jr., Terrence Blanchard, Tony Williams, Nicholas Payton, Sting, Carl Allen, the legendary Pharaoh Sanders, Barbara Streisand, Willie Nelson, Yo Yo Ma, Ravi Coltrane, Chris Botti and Diana Krall.

Robert Hurst has performed on over 150 diverse and critically acclaimed recordings. A select group of these productions have garnered him performances yielding seven GRAMMY® Awards, several RIAA ® certified- Multi-Platinum and Gold recordings whilst his own seven recordings as a Bandleader have all generated Top Ten and Five Star recognition around the Globe. It is probable that you have identified Hurst amongst the jazz world’s most promising new groups and established artists; however, you may also recognize Robert Hurst as the inaugural bassist in the house band of “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno for eight seasons, from 1992 to 1999. His work in performing, directing, arranging, and composing on the NBC program were highlighted with four EMMY® Awards in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999.  

Robert‘s music, which transcends genre while keeping the improvisational genius and fascination of jazz glowing at its center, has also penned original music scores for several films including: “The Wood”- MTV/ Paramount Productions, “Brown Sugar”- Fox Films. Hurst appears on over 30 Major Motion Film & Video Soundtracks and has featured solos and performances captured on Block Busters: “Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen,” and “Good Night, and Good Luck “the soundtrack, featuring Dianne Reeves, on Concord Records (A 2006 Grammy Awardee- Jazz Vocal).

As a result of Hurst’s virtuosity, improvisational prowess and unique multi-lingual styling, he has been recognized as a huge, authoritative presence in the music industry. Adored by students, critics, master musicians and fellow educators alike, Robert Hurst has expanded his reach of influence and presently serves as a dedicated Associate Professor of Music, with Tenure, and the Director of Small Jazz Ensembles in the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance in Ann Arbor. In addition to his activities as a full-time professor of music, globetrotting bandleader and sideman and fulfilling ongoing requests as a special guest performer & visiting arts fellow to over 40 Institutions and counting, Hurst maintains membership on the ISIM Advisory Council, has written skill and exercise materials published for the Woodshed Master Class Series in DownBeat Magazine, and has thoughtfully served, since 2002, on the Board of Directors for The John and Alice Coltrane Foundation. Robert returns triumphant to the CD scene with his newest release and third consecutive Critic’s Top Pick (2011-2014): “BoB: a Palindrome” 2013. “Bob Ya Head”, (Nationally Ranked #9 on CMJ charts, 2011) and “Unrehurst” Vol. 2, (Nationally Ranked Top Ten Jazz CD for 2011). Back to Top

Born in Caracas Venezuela, Otmaro Ruiz began his musical education at the Juan Manuel Olivares  Conservatory at the age of eight years old.   Included in his studies were ClassicalGuitar, Theory, Classical Piano, and Classical Organ.

In 1983, Otmaro Ruiz, became part of a small, and elite group of both touring and recording musicians in Venezuela, finding himself in the musical company of Soledad Bravo, Guillermo Davila, and visiting International Jazz and Pop Artists Nat Adderley, Thomas Chapin, Miguel Bose, and many others.

In 1986, Otmaro Ruiz joined of one of the most important TV and Radio production companies:  Musica y Letra, joining his partner/mentor Jesus Sanoja,  It was this experience that would prove to be one of the most important factors in shaping his development as a Composer, Arranger, and eventually, a Producer.

In 1989, with a partial grant from the Ministry of Culture CONAC, Ruiz moved to Los Angeles, enrolling in California Institute of the Arts, obtaining his Masters in Jazz Performance, and interacting with many visiting Artists; however, it was his association with Drummer/Percussionist Alex Acuna, that would lead him to a select circle of musicians, including Jazz Giants Justo Almario, and Abraham Laboriel.  This would prove to be the turning point of his professional career.

Since beginning his professional career in the US, he has toured and recorded with some of the most significant Jazz Artists of our time, including:  Dianne Reeves, recording “In the Moment’ – Live in Concert” which was awarded a Grammy.  His collaboration with Alex Acuna’s “Acuarelas de Tambores” in the same year also received a Grammy nomination.  Voted “Best Pianist of the Year 2008” and “Artist of the New Generation 2008” by the Latin Jazz Corner Magazine,  Ruiz is continuously sought after, and has lent his musical talents to virtually every International Jazz Festival, never losing his versatility – his greatest asset, reflecting the love and respect he feels for all styles of music.  In 2012, Mr. Ruiz was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by Shepherd University (Korea/USA) and his work as Arranger/Producer was recognized by the American Academy of Recording Arts with a Nomination for the Grammy Awards 2016 (Catina DeLuna and LADO B Brazilian Project).

To great critical acclaim, Ruiz released his own “Sojourn” in 2008, a collection of beautifully crafted original works, enlisting the collective talents of Drummer Jimmy Branly, Bassist Carlos del Puerto Jr. and Saxophonist Ben Wendel.   His latest project, LADO B has, according to immense volumes of international reviews, elevated the level of Brazilian popular music.

World and Concert Tours
Dianne Reeves, John Mc Laughlin, Arturo Sandoval, Tito Puente, Steve Winwood, Gino Vannelli, Tolu, Frank Gambale, Alain Caron, Frank Morgan, ‘Jing Chi’ featuring Jimmy Haslip, Robben Ford, and Vinnie Colaiuta: and many others.
For full list of credits, please visit www.otmaroruiz.com
“Otmaro Ruiz, who seems capable of adapting to any musical situation, demonstrated once again – as he did last week with Dianne Reeves at the Orange County Performing Arts Center – his remarkably multifaceted skills in a    solo filled with roaring multilayered audio textures” - Don Heckman, Special to the LA Times 2001

“The keyboardist perfectly captures all the fire and beauty of Latin American rhythms” - Maki Music 2005

“The performance of the Ruiz ensemble turned out to be the sort of event that defines the best of what the Da Camera Series is all about – Chamber Music, Jazz in this case, that challenges the intellect, delivered with a passion and intensity to trigger the emotion” - Don Heckman, Special to the LA Times, 2001. Back to Top



Ralph Moore’s last recording as a leader was entitled “Who It Is You Are”—words taken from a poem written by NJ poet laureate, Amiri Baraka. Twenty years later, Baraka has recently passed and some folks are asking the tenor saxophonist: “Where it is you’ve been?”

While Moore has not been on the jazz scene per se (he has been living in Los Angeles for the last 20 years), he, nonetheless, has never separated from the purity of the passion that drives him every day. Fifteen years playing tenor in the band for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno kept Moore on the left coast and restricted to playing locally due to the constraints of the television show. During that time, Moore collaborated in a few cooperative jazz quartets and quintets— one in particular—aptly named “Escape from New York,” featuring some of his Tonight Show co-horts, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith and bassist Bob Hurst. “The outlet was absolutely necessary,” says Moore. The group tooled around locally for five years, honing a sound and a repertoire.

With The Tonight Show with Jay Leno well behind him now, Moore is poised to get back to what is intrinsically and innately who he is – a jazz musician playing and creating the music he loves.

London-born Moore has been a dedicated musician since he was a teenager, and the life has paid huge dividends. Moore was born to a British show business family and although means were scarce, life was, nonetheless, culturally rich. His mother, Josephine Wood, a lifelong dancer, and the subject of a BBC2 Black Britain documentary, encouraged Moore creatively. High school years were spent with his American father in Santa Maria, CA and college at Berklee College of Music in Boston before making the sojourn to New York in 1981.

In the 80s and early 90s he moved from a position as an in-demand sideman with lengthy musical stints and recordings with Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Brown, Roy Haynes, J.J. Johnson, Cedar Walton, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Roy Hargrove, Oscar Peterson, Kenny Baron to name just a few. Moore has a number of fine albums out on Landmark (now 32 Jazz) Criss Cross, Concord, Reservoir and Savoy labels. Back to Top


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