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CCM alumnus Brian Newman performing with Lady Gaga.

CCM alumnus Brian Newman performing with Lady Gaga.

Jazz Studies Alumni Perform With Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett

Four alumni of CCM's Jazz Studies program recently recorded a new album and made several notable television appearances with recording industry giants Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.

Trumpeter Brian Newman (CCM, 1999-2003), saxophonist Steve Kortyka (BM, 2004), pianist Alex Smith (BM, 2001) and bassist Scott Ritchie (BM, 2003) perform regularly with Lady Gaga as members of the Brian Newman Quintet. Newman also serves as Gaga's ongoing jazz bandleader.

Newman, Kortyka, Smith and Ritchie appeared with Gaga and Tony Bennett for an installment of PBS' Great Performances in October 2014. The PBS television special followed the release of Gaga and Bennett's Grammy nominated album Cheek to Cheek, which debuted as the number one album on the US Billboard 200 during its first week of sales. Smith also arranged the song "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," which was the number one single for that week.

More recently, Newman and Kortyka also performed with Bennett on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center special, which celebrated the 82nd annual lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Plaza.

The Brian Newman Quintet

The Brian Newman Quintet.

While at UC, Newman, Kortyka and Smith all performed in the CCM Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Professor Rick VanMatre.

Newman was interviewed by Broadway World this past October and described CCM as "an amazing experience, and I learned a ton there, and we really soaked up the whole scene."

Kortyka shared similar sentiments:

"Classes at CCM prepared me not just musically but socially for the entertainment business. The broad range of courses offered by the Jazz Studies and Music Education departments required my mind to think more universally with regards to the big picture. At the time I was in school, Professor VanMatre provided instruction that developed my knowledge of sound production to a level unmatched by any other university."

Below, watch a performance of "Bang Bang (He Shot Me Down)" from PBS' Great Performances.