Neil Wetzel has been a regular on the Philadelphia music scene since the late 70's. His performing and recording credits span many styles including jazz, classical, pop, theater and rock music.
While attending music conservatory at the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, Neil started playing, touring and recording with some of the best musicians in the United States.
In theaters and clubs, Wetzel backed many of the great performers in show business including Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, Bob Hope, Johnny Mathis, Bernadette Peters, Tommy Tune, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, the Temptations and the Four Tops, as well as many others. He has also appeared with the Philly Pops Orchestra including a performance with singer Patti Page in Carnegie Hall, which was recorded and released on CD by DRG records and won the 1999 Grammy for best Pop Traditional Performance.
Neil has toured and recorded while holding down the saxophone chair in the Eric Mintel Quartet. During his tenure with Mintel, he went on tours of Colorado and the western US; Georgia and the south; and the New England states. Wetzel's playing can be heard on four of Mintel's CD's: Live, Hopscotch, Dynamo and Four on the Floor. The quartet also played many prestigious jazz clubs including The Deerhead Inn (PA), Shanghai Jazz (NJ), and Zanzibar Blue (Philadelphia).
In 2004, Wetzel produced and performed on the CD Introducing the Jazz Faculty at Moravian College, a recording featuring compositions written and performed by the Moravian College Jazz Faculty Ensemble. In 2007 he played on the CD Simone on Simone (released on Koch Records) featuring the jazz singer Simone with the Rob Stoneback Big Band.
Wetzel has been featured performer and guest clinician at festivals in the U.S. and Europe. His performing and teaching credits include the Lana Jazz Festival in Lana, Italy (2005) as well as the Karel Velebny Jazz Workshop in Frydlant, Czech Republic (2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009).
He is currently a member of the Fras-Wilkins Quintet, a jazz group made up of jazz musicians from America and the Czech Republic. The group has toured Central Europe playing in clubs and festivals, and has toured the US as well. The ensemble has recently released a CD, Frydlant Nights, on the Czech Radio Prague label. This entourage of musicians has performed in many jazz clubs including The Deerhead Inn (PA), Agharta, U Maleho Glena, and Jazz Dock jazz clubs (the latter three in Prague, Czech Republic).
After earning a doctorate at Columbia University, Dr. Wetzel became Director of Jazz Studies at Moravian College; his duties there include teaching saxophone, directing the Moravian College Big Band, and overseeing the jazz studies program. As founder and music director of Moravian College's summer music camp, Neil has shared the stage with many jazz greats such as Clark Terry, Ravi Coltrane, Al Grey, Terrel Stafford, Milt Grayson, Stanley Turrentine, Bobby Watson, and others.
He has also authored a text for teaching jazz to beginning level instrumentalists: Learning Jazz Language, which is being published by Northeastern Music Publications.