Jazz Faculty


Larry Panella, serves on the faculty of The University of Southern Mississippi as an associate professor of music and director of the jazz studies program. He is the founder and leader of the USM Jazz Quintet and has performed with numerous artists and entertainers including The Phil Collins Big Band, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Natalie Cole, Steve Allen, Nelson Riddle, and Frank Sinatra Jr. His recordings include, Larry Panella: The Gestures Project, Larry Panella: Under The Influence, The John Mahoney Big Band; Christmas Joy, “A Hot Night in Paris” by the Phil Collins Big Band, as well two releases with the Collection Jazz Orchestra, The Ashley Alexander Big Band, and Chris Cortez.  

He currently performs with his own Larry Panella Jazz Quartet, the Southern Miss JQ, the John Mahoney Big Band, and the Southwest Horns.

He earned his master of music from Northern Illinois University and his bachelor of music from the University of North Texas where he performed with the famed 1 O'Clock Jazz Lab Band. Prior to his appointment at Southern Miss, Mr. Panella served on the faculty at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and Northern Illinois University School of Music. Mr. Panella is an artist - clinician for Cannonball Musical Instruments.


Dr. Marcos Machado enjoys an international career as a concert artist, teacher, and chamber musician. Important performances included the South American premiere of Frank Proto’s “A Carmen Fantasy” and appearances as a soloist in Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, and England. Machado is an astounding performer who has experience in the jazz realm as well as classical performance and performs on electric and acoustic basses. His list of teachers is a veritable “Who’s Who” of the bass world including Michael Cameron, Franco Pettrachi (Italy); Duncan McTier (Switzerland); and Francois Rabbath. In the jazz idiom he briefly studied with Rufus Reed, and has done extensive studies of jazz bassists such as Eddie Gomez, John Patitucci, Ray Brown, and Jaco Pastorius. He hosts an annual bass symposium with both classical and jazz guest artists. Oscar Stognero, author of The Latin Bass Book was a recent performer.


Dr. John Wooton  is the Director of Percussion Studies and has grown the percussion division of the School of Music into one of the strongest studios in the region exposing his students to some of the leading artists and pedagogues in the percussion field including such luminaries as Jim Chapin, Ellie Manette, Andy Narrell and many more. Through his outstanding teaching his students perform in a variety of styles from jazz to orchestral to world music and populate the percussion sections of every major orchestral ensemble in the state and region.

He is in demand as a clinician internationally and is an endorser for Vic Firth Sticks, Sabien Cymbals, Pearl Drums, and Remo Percussion. His book entitled, “The Drummer’s Rudimental Reference Book” is highly regarded, as is his latest publication, "Dr. Throwdown's Rudimental Remedies.” In addition to his work in rudimental drumming, he plays vibraphone and drumset for the Southern Miss Jazz Quintet and leads his professional steel band “Kaiso!” playing lead steel pans. His group is in demand throughout the region.


Chris Alford serves as an adjunct jazz guitar instructor on the Southern Miss jazz faculty. Chris Alford, a native Mississippian, studied at Belmont University in Nashville and went on for a master of music degree at Roosevelt University in Chicago where he studied with John MacLean. Alford lives in New Orleans and performs extensively throughout the region with his own group as well as collaborations with some of New Orlean’s finest musicians.


James Westfall began teaching adjunct jazz piano in the in the 2011-2012 school year. He is a graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing Arts, the University of New Orleans and was the first vibraphonist to be admitted to the Thelonious Monk Institute. He is skilled on both piano and vibes has performed at festivals throughout the world and at venues around the country with his group the Wee Trio as well as other collaborations.