Herbie Hancock Institute Unveils Virtual Summer Slate of Free Music Education Programs for Students

Offerings include Jazz in America, BeBop to Hip-Hop, Jazz in the Classroom and Performing Arts High Schools Program

WASHINGTON, DC – The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz has unveiled an ambitious slate of live, online educational programs and webinars to take place this summer for elementary, middle and high school students from across the country and around the globe. All of the programs are offered to participants at no cost, but registration is required. The Jazz in America and BeBop to Hip-Hop summer programs are made possible by support from AT&T.

Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock noted, “The Institute’s online jazz education programs will teach students of all ages and musical abilities about the truly American spirit of the music of jazz and its essential elements of improvisation and creativity. These free programs will help students navigate this challenging time and keep them focused on their future. The Institute is committed to keeping students engaged in meaningful pursuits this summer, especially as many summer programs across the nation have been canceled.”

Jazz in America is an innovative, internet-based jazz curriculum for social studies, American history and general music classes. Developed by the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, the curriculum aims to provide students with a basic understanding of jazz as a musical form, along with appreciation of the profound contributions jazz has made to America’s cultural and civic life. The 24-session webinar series taught by Dr. JB Dyas, the Institute’s Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development, offers mini-courses for students in grades 10-12 (June 22-July 8), grades 7-9 (July 13-29) and grades 4-6 (August 3-12). Participants from the United States and over 30 countries have enrolled in the first course.

BeBop to Hip-Hop is a 10-week program for high school students from June 25 to August 27. Aspiring producers, musicians and rappers will create music with guidance from renowned music industry professionals including DJ Khalil, Hi-Tek, Mike & Keys, Tariq Beats, and others to be announced shortly. Students will have opportunities to collaborate virtually on original music projects and the program will culminate with a unique online public concert presentation. Hancock Institute West Coast Director Daniel Seeff stated, “This program will provide a rare opportunity for students around the country to develop their artistic vision with guidance from successful professionals who can give them invaluable feedback from their years of experience in the music industry.”

Jazz in the Classroom, the Institute’s highly-regarded series of programs tailored to help public school students develop an understanding of and appreciation for jazz music, shares the positive aspects of jazz with young people who would not otherwise have opportunities to learn about this national treasure. Weekly online programs will be extended over the summer at three District of Columbia public schools: Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Roosevelt High School and Wilson High School.

An excerpt from a recent virtual master class with Washington, D.C. public school students, featuring teaching artist and 2013 Institute Saxophone Competition Winner Melissa Aldana.

Institute Director of Special Projects Leonard Brown said, “If not for these intensive, virtual sessions, many of these students would regress in their musical abilities over the summer months. Through these lessons, students will not only maintain, but further develop their music skills.” On the West Coast, members of the Herbie Hancock/LAUSD Beyond the Bell All-City Jazz Band will participate in virtual master classes and group instruction. The All-City Big Band, under the co-direction of Dr. Dyas and Beyond the Bell Branch Music and Entertainment Education Coordinator Anthony “Tony” White, comprises the top high school music students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest public school district. 

Students at Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. perform “Tenor Madness” as part of their virtual studies in the Institute’s Jazz in the Classroom program.

The Performing Arts High Schools Program provides intensive jazz training for exceptionally gifted and motivated student musicians at 12 public performing arts high schools in 10 cities across the country. Dr. Dyas will host virtual forums throughout the summer to provide students with opportunities to network and focus on tune learning, practicing and listening. Said Dr. Dyas, “The richness of these webinars lie in the fact that we can get together from all parts of the country, and grow as jazz musicians and people.”

After graduating in mid-June, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA Class of 2020 fellows are already hard at work teaching the Global Jazz: Ongoing Conversations online summer intensive program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Led by UCLA Global Jazz Studies faculty, the week-long program brings together performers from around the world. Students will participate in master classes, lessons, composition workshops and performances throughout the week, with collaborative classes and lessons designed around each student’s needs using online platforms as an extended global classroom.

For more information and complete details on all of the programs and to register, please visit hancockinstitute.org.

Additional support is made possible by United Airlines, the official airline of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.

Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The mission of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is to offer the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and to present public school music education programs for young people around the world. The Institute preserves, perpetuates and expands jazz as a global art form, and utilizes jazz as a means to unite people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. All of the Institute’s programs are provided free of charge to students, schools and communities worldwide. These programs use jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, positive self-image, and respect for one’s own and others’ cultural heritage. hancockinstitute.org

The Institute goes virtual in response to COVID-19

With schools across the country closed indefinitely and state and local governments encouraging self-isolation and shelter-in-place strategies, the Institute is deploying its industry-leading educational resources and award-winning teaching staff to support students, parents and educators across the United States. Programs like Jazz in the Classroom and the National Performing Arts High Schools initiative are still being offered via Zoom to our partner schools in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and beyond.

Working closely with band directors and music teachers at each school, each online session is tailored to the needs of each student or ensemble and includes lessons in jazz history, theory and improvisation, transcription, key jazz repertoire and technical skills, including “gap” areas in student knowledge that can be adeptly addressed through virtual learning such as reading and playing syncopated rhythms. 

NEW Online Summer Sessions Announced

The Institute recently announced that it would be offering a series of free online summer sessions for students from grades 4 through 12, based on the innovative Jazz in America and BeBop to Hip-Hop education programs.

Beginning on June 22, Institute Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development Dr. JB Dyas will lead a virtual webinar series using the Jazz in America jazz history and appreciation curriculum. Each age-appropriate session will take students on a fun, fascinating journey through jazz. Sessions will be offered in three groups: grades 10-12 (June 22-July 8), grades 7-9 (July 13-29) and grades 4-6 (August 3-12). Learn more and register for the free Zoom sessions today.

On June 25, Institute staff and teaching artists will offer a 10-week BeBop to Hip-Hop Masterclass Series, at no cost to participants, for up to 100 students across the country. Aspiring producers, musicians and rappers will create music with guidance from renowned music industry professionals. Students will have opportunities to collaborate virtually on original music projects. Applications must be received by Tuesday, June 23. Find out how to submit your materials today.

We Need Your Help to Offer the Best in Jazz Education–Now Online

Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock explains how the Institute is updating its programming in response to the coronavirus.

Have a look at how students across our programs, from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to Jazz in the Classroom, have been continuing their students virtually:

The Institute will continually update this post with new distance learning resources geared to students of all ages. Stay tuned, and stay healthy!

International Jazz Day 2020 Virtual Celebration Features Artists From Across the Globe

Top jazz artists will lead interactive educational sessions in six languages

Video submissions from around the world to be featured on jazzday.com

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 9th annual International Jazz Day worldwide celebration will transition to a virtual format for 2020 instead of taking place as previously planned in Cape Town, South Africa and other locations around the world on April 30th.

International Jazz Day 2020 will take place online and be hosted by Herbie Hancock. The day’s centerpiece will be a virtual Global Concert featuring artists from across the globe, streamed live on jazzday.com. The concert will begin at 3:00 pm US eastern time and will feature performances by Marcus Miller, Lang Lang, Charlie Puth, Cécile McLorin Salvant, John McLaughlin, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sibongile Khumalo, Alune Wade, John Beasley, Ben Williams, Lizz Wright, John Scofield, Igor Butman, Evgeny Pobozhiy, Youn Sun Nah, A Bu, Jane Monheit, and Joey DeFrancesco, among others.

Leading up to the virtual Global Concert, there will be a free series of educational masterclasses, children’s activities and discussions via web conference featuring renowned educators and jazz artists, streamed live via jazzday.com.

Schedule of Free Masterclasses, Children’s Activities and Panel Discussions:

LanguageFormatArtistUS ET
ChineseMasterclassA Bu06h00
ArabicMasterclassTarek Yamani09h00
SpanishMasterclassDanilo Pérez11h00
RussianMasterclassIgor Butman11h30
FrenchChildren’s activityDee Dee Bridgewater12h00
EnglishChildren’s activityOran Etkin12h30
EnglishPanelNate Chinen, Sibongile Khumalo,
Marcus Miller
13h30
EnglishMasterclassLwanda Gogwana14h00

The program will also include a panel hosted by Nate Chinen, Director of Editorial Content for WBGO and chief jazz contributor to NPR Music, addressing how International Jazz Day, and art in general, can be a relevant response to the social isolation precipitated by the current public health crisis. The panel will feature artist participants including GRAMMY Award-winning bassist and composer Marcus Miller and legendary South African vocalist Sibongile Khumalo. A live audience will be able to submit questions throughout the session. NPR will co-host a live stream of the virtual International Jazz Day activities.

International Jazz Day would not be possible without the thousands of independent organizers around the world who faithfully help bring the message of this unique music into their communities each year on April 30.

UNESCO and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz have issued a call for these organizers, artists and fans around the world to create video messages, audio recordings and other expressions of participation to show solidarity with everyone affected by the pandemic. Submissions will be featured as part of the daylong virtual celebrations on jazzday.com. Submission criteria are available at jazzday.com/participate.

Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Co-Chair of International Jazz Day, said, “These are unprecedented times for world citizens and we are most grateful for the support, understanding and partnership of our Jazz Day community. Armed with optimism, patience and grace, we’ll work through these challenges as families, communities, countries and as a stronger united world. Now more than ever before, let’s band together and spread the ethics of Jazz Day’s global movement around the planet and use this as a golden opportunity for humankind to reconnect, especially in the midst of all this isolation and uncertainty.”

Our deep gratitude and appreciation go to the South African Department of Sports, Arts and Culture; South African Tourism; South African National Commission for UNESCO; City of Cape Town, SPIN Foundation; many local partners and community leaders in South Africa; and the worldwide International Jazz Day community for their efforts in support of International Jazz Day 2020.

Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 at the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, and recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every April 30th to celebrate jazz and highlight the music’s important role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity. International Jazz Day has become a global movement reaching more than two billion people annually on all seven continents, including Antarctica, through education programs, performances, community outreach, radio, television and streaming, along with electronic, print and social media. The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is UNESCO’s official partner in the organization and promotion of International Jazz Day.

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Click here to download this advisory as a PDF

For more information, contact outreach@jazzday.com

To learn more about International Jazz Day and register events on the official website, visit  www.jazzday.com or www.unesco.org/jazzday

A Message from Our Chairman

Our Chairman Herbie Hancock explains how the Institute is updating its programming in response to the coronavirus.


Help support the Institute’s virtual jazz education efforts by making a tax-deductible online donation today, subscribing to our mailing list, and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Learn more about our award-winning educational initiatives, which have been offered for free in public schools across the United States for more than 30 years.

Leadership Through the Jazz Paradigm

by Dr. J.B. Dyas, Institute Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development

This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of JazzEd Magazine.

Jazz is being performed all over the world in every kind of venue imaginable – jazz clubs, concert halls, festivals, universities, high schools, coffee shops, shopping malls, hotel lobbies, restaurants, art museums, and more. But who would have thought that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be among them? Turns out that besides loving the music for the aesthetic enjoyment it provides, the FTC powers-that-be realize the important lessons in leadership that can be procured from jazz. With a mission of protecting the consumer via the elimination and prevention of anticompetitive business practices, monopolies, and false advertising–along with over 1,000 employees from investigators to attorneys to specialists in information technology, public affairs, financial management, and public policy–the FTC recognizes that effective leadership is paramount.

The FTC’s chief learning officer, Mark Kern, contacted me as the Commission was organizing a three-day Leadership Academy for their highest level employees. Apparently, there’s some infighting in Washington, D.C. these days (Really? I hadn’t heard!), including at some of our federal agencies, and Kern thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if the FTC ran more like a jazz group?” They were interested in, “learning from the jazz space how to build better coalitions and partnerships on teams in their space.”

This all came to fruition at the FTC Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where the Herbie Hancock Institute National Peer-to-Peer Jazz Quartet–comprising four of the most impressive high school jazz musicians in the country–along with renowned jazz trumpet recording artist Sean Jones and I presented a workshop entitled, Leadership Through the Jazz Paradigm.

After performing a couple of tunes, we gave our “What is Jazz and Why It’s Important to America” presentation, demonstrating how jazz works and how jazz exemplifies our most deeply held American values: teamwork, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, democracy (individual freedom but with responsibility to the group), persistence and perseverance, respect for one another, tolerance, and the vital importance of really listening to one another. This was followed by our describing leadership in jazz and what might be gleaned from it to inform current and future leaders at the FTC and others outside the music realm.

Following is a synopsis of six exemplary leadership lessons found in jazz that we examined and demonstrated:

Jazz musicians…

1. Know how to overcome problematic working conditions. For example, if the stage is too small, the piano is out of tune, the acoustics are bad, the pay is way light, and/or whatever else, we still have a great set! If the hi-hat doesn’t work, or the drummer doesn’t show up, we still have a great set. And if a couple of players in the band don’t see eye to eye, we not only have a great set, we just might create some of the most beautiful music in history like jazz greats Miles Davis and John Coltrane did in their 1950s group. There you had two musicians who had such totally different philosophies on the “right” way to play jazz (Miles using space, Trane filling up every space, et cetera), and no one would ever accuse them of being best buddies. Yet, that group has gone down in history as one of the most exquisite pieces of art (irrespective of genre) of all time–right up there with da Vinci, Beethoven, Mozart, Picasso, Baryshnikov, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Spielberg…And, from a business standpoint, the album, Kind of Blue, that Miles and Trane recorded in 1959, is not only a masterpiece, it’s the best-selling jazz record of all time.

2. Take turns leading. Even when there’s a designated leader in the group (which is most often the case), each member of the group will take turns leading, depending on the moment and the situation. For instance, at any given moment during a performance, the soloist might be in charge, or the drummer, or the rhythm section collectively, or whoever. Everyone in the group acknowledges this and goes along, enjoying the different leadership of the moment. For example, although piano luminary Dave Brubeck was certainly the designated leader of the iconic Dave Brubeck Quartet, leadership changed hands continuously among Dave, saxophonist Paul Desmond, and the rhythm section (bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello) throughout every performance. Collective leadership can be heard on their extraordinary recordings as well. The superlative results are legendary.

3. Know that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and that the goal is more important than anything else. In the case of the jazz combo, the goal is to make great music. So, once on the stage, we ignore any personality conflicts, we check our egos at the door, we work together and enjoy the experience regardless of whatever–all in order to achieve our goal of making great music. No matter what, jazz musicians always “maintain civility in the workplace”–something that all those in government agencies, business, higher education, healthcare, and everywhere else should do.

An excellent example of two jazz icons whose personalities couldn’t have been more opposite, but who worked together successfully for years are, again, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. Dave was a devout Catholic, faithful husband, and family man who took care of his health and didn’t indulge in drugs, booze, or cigarettes. Paul was a confirmed bachelor, infamous womanizer, avid drinker, drug user, and chain smoker (he died of lung cancer at age 52). Yet, this duo, too, is universally known for recording some of the most groundbreaking albums of all time, including the fifth best-selling jazz album in history, Time Out, featuring the chart-topping single, “Take Five.” Offstage, Dave and Paul may have butted heads and argued about everything under the sun, but once they hit the downbeat, they were of one mind, one purpose.

4. Recognize the contributions of others. Jazz musicians revere the masters of the past and so enjoy listening to those of the present. We’re always talking about how great someone else plays. We love to help and encourage up-and-coming players. And we’re quick to point out when someone in the band has done something cool and compliment them (“Loved the substitutions you played on the bridge… Man, you sound better and better every time I hear you… Love what you did at the end of ‘Cherokee’ – can you show me?”).

5. Really listen to each other. Jazz musicians can only function if they’re actively and intensely listening to one another. Wouldn’t it be great if Congress were made up of all jazz musicians!

6. Improvise. Often in government agencies, business, and everywhere else, things don’t always go according to plan. Here, improvisation is key – making something that went awry into something better than if it hadn’t gone awry! Piano legend Herbie Hancock tells the story of how once when he was playing with the Miles Davis Quintet in the 1960s, he spaced out for a second and, while Miles was soloing, he played not only the wrong chord, but the “worst chord possible.” Miles immediately changed his note and made it fit beautifully – better than if Herbie had played the “right” chord. This became somewhat of a common occurrence in that group and it, too, has gone down as one of the most successful and influential in history. Miles encouraged his “employees” to experiment, be creative, and lead him as much as he led them.

By the reports, the presentation was well-received by all in attendance. “The reaction to the jazz informance was extremely positive,” wrote Kern in an email regarding the evaluations submitted by the FTC Leadership Academy attendees that included such sentiments as, “Just incredible; I haven’t appreciated jazz until today and the related leadership points were truly illuminating” and “The leadership found in jazz is so very relevant [to our work at the FTC] and brought to the topic a new point of view.”

“The participants came away with a keen understanding of how jazz relates to leading in our agency in an enlightening and permanent way,” Kern continued. “Perhaps our best lesson was on individuals able to do their own thing while positively contributing to the overall good.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of JazzEd Magazine. Click here to download the full article.

Updates to International Jazz Day, April 30

COVID-19 pandemic necessitates changes to 9th annual worldwide celebration of jazz

Call for artists and fans around the world to self-create video messages to be streamed worldwide on International Jazz Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Due to ongoing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, the International Jazz Day 2020 Global Host Celebration in Cape Town and other cities across South Africa, including the All-Star Global Concert on April 30, will not take place as scheduled. This decision has been undertaken in response to guidance issued by government and public health officials in South Africa and reflects the high priority that the Institute, its partners and local organizers place on the health and safety of all participating musicians, staff, affiliates and the public.

International Jazz Day would not be possible without the thousands of independent organizers around the world who faithfully help bring the message of this unique music into their communities each year on April 30. We strongly encourage our partners to follow all local public health directives and government guidelines when considering whether to go ahead with an International Jazz Day program. Many partners have already rescheduled their programs for a later date, pending the abatement of the current global pandemic. These postponed events will be gratefully recognized as official celebrations of International Jazz Day.

For over a century, jazz has been a unifying force, rallying people around the world through the universal language of music regardless of the distance between them. With this in mind, International Jazz Day will still go forward on April 30. Though large-scale public concerts, colloquia and other gatherings that have for nearly a decade been a hallmark of this celebration, this year we are encouraging organizers to minimize viral transmission by celebrating at home. Resources, information and ideas for celebrating can be found at jazzday.com.

To allow our amazing community of jazz lovers, students and local International Jazz Day leaders a special opportunity to connect with each other, on April 30, the Institute and its partners will be organizing a virtual forum featuring acclaimed artists and webcasts of exclusive content, offered free of charge. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Institute extends a special invitation to all of its partners to submit smartphone videos, audio recordings and other virtual expressions of participation to show solidarity with everyone affected by this challenging situation. Submissions will be featured in a free live stream available worldwide as part of the virtual programming on April 30.

Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Co-Chair of International Jazz Day, said, “These are unprecedented times for world citizens and we are most grateful for the support, understanding, and partnership of our Jazz Day community. Armed with optimism, patience and grace, we’ll work through these challenges as families, communities, countries and as a stronger united world. Now more than ever before, let’s band together and spread the ethics of Jazz Day’s global movement around the planet and use this as a golden opportunity for humankind to reconnect especially in the midst of all this isolation and uncertainty.”

Our deep gratitude and appreciation go to the South African Department of Sports, Arts and Culture; South African Tourism; the South African National Commission for UNESCO; the City of Cape Town, the SPIN Foundation; the many local partners and community leaders in South Africa; and the worldwide International Jazz Day community for their efforts in support of International Jazz Day 2020.

Download the full release

National Performing Arts High Schools Students Perform at 2020 JEN Conference in New Orleans

Combos from three partner schools in the Institute’s National Performing Arts High Schools Jazz Program participated in the annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in New Orleans on January 8 and 9, 2020. The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) Jazz Quartet and a combo of top students from the Baltimore School for the Arts and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts each performed a set, sharing a bill with distinguished artists including Tia Fuller, Sean Jones, Dick Oatts, Terell Stafford, Chucho Valdés, and Mark Whitfield.

“I’m so proud of the way these students performed and comported themselves,” said Dr. JB Dyas, the Institute’s Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development. “They have made incredible progress since the last time I worked with them just a few months ago!”

A man stands in the foreground playing his trumpet with a group of students, also playing instruments.
Internationally renowned jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis performs with students from the Baltimore School for the Arts and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts at the 2020 JEN Conference in New Orleans

Remembering jazz giants

Contributing to the ongoing centennial celebrations for the late jazz icons Charlie Parker and Dave Brubeck, the ChiArts Quartet performed noteworthy standards by both artists, including Parker’s “Donna Lee” and “Anthropology” and Brubeck’s “Koto Song” and “Here Comes McBride.” The Baltimore/New Orleans combo performed a set of early New Orleans jazz tunes, including “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” They incorporated modern twists in the style of Gumbo Nouveau, the noted album by New Orleans’ own Nicholas Payton. Internationally renowned jazz trumpeter and Institute teaching artist Jon Faddis joined the group for its finale, Bourbon Street Parade.

“My hat’s off to not only these talented students but, especially, their excellent directors, Anthony Bruno, Ed Hrybyk and Michael Pellera,” added Dyas. “They keep producing superlative young players, year after year, reassuring all of us that the future of our music is in good hands.”

Four students playing jazz instruments perform on a stage with a black backdrop.
The Chicago High School for the Arts Jazz Quartet Performs at the 2020 JEN Conference in New Orleans. From left: Jaden Berkman (senior), Claudia Easterwood (junior), Leo Milano (freshman), Simon Burke-Kaiser (senior)

Remembering Jimmy Heath

The Institute is heartbroken to learn of the passing of Institute trustee Jimmy Heath, a giant of jazz who left an indelible mark on the music he loved and helped shape. At the age of 93, Heath was a living legend who bore that mantle with characteristic good humor and humility.

In more than 70 years on the scene, he appeared on over 100 records, penned over 125 compositions—including the jazz standards “CTA” and “Gingerbread Man”—and appeared with countless jazz icons including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Wynton  Marsalis and many others. Heath, alongside brothers Percy and Tootie, presided over nearly every era of note in jazz history, from big band swing to bebop to post-bop and beyond—always staying true to his signature sound.

Heath spent 20 years as Professor of Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and was a passionate standard bearer for jazz education through his over three decades of work and advocacy on the Institute’s Board of Trustees. Always giving generously of his time, wisdom, and inimitable style on the saxophone, he served on the judging panels for all but one of the Institute’s Saxophone Competitions, helping to launch the careers of talents such as Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Jon Irabagon, and Melissa Aldana–the first woman instrumentalist to take first prize at an Institute Competition. He appeared at the inaugural celebration of International Jazz Day in 2012 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, fittingly keeping stride with other musical icons like Hugh Masekela and Stevie Wonder. But perhaps most significant was his dedication to serving as an artist in residence at the Institute’s Jazz Performance program, teaching and imparting priceless insights and mentorship to the next generation even into his tenth decade. 

In recognition of his tireless work to preserve and perpetuate jazz, Heath was presented with the Maria Fisher Founder’s Award in 1994.

Most recently, Heath performed at our 2018 Piano Competition in Washington, D.C., joining a stage brimming with talents that he helped nurture and inspire. With his wit, wisdom and effortless musical mastery, the jazz world and this Institute will never be quite the same without Jimmy.

Getting the Band Back Together: National Peer-to-Peer Quintet performs at 2019 Competition

The 2019 edition of the Herbie Hancock Institute National Peer-to-Peer Jazz Quintet, comprising five of the most impressive high school jazz musicians in the country, recently reunited to perform at the Institute’s International Jazz Guitar Competition Finals & All-Star Gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on December 3rd. On the same bill as such jazz luminaries as Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Bobby Watson, the group opened the show with acclaimed saxophonist Antonio Hart, performing Hart’s arrangement of Seven Steps to Heaven, one of the first compositions Hancock recorded with fellow jazz icon, Miles Davis.

(From left) Institute Teaching Artist Antonio Hart performs with National Peer-to-Peer Jazz Quintet members Jalin Shiver, Sasha Ripley, and Jeremiah Collier during the 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on December 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The power of peer-to-peer

Under the direction of Dr. JB Dyas, the Institute’s VP for Education and Curriculum Development, the peer-to-peer students annually participate in weeklong national peer-to-peer jazz informance tours in which they gain invaluable performance experience playing alongside internationally acclaimed artists while they, in turn, educate young audiences in public schools across the U.S. about America’s indigenous musical art form, jazz. In so doing, they not only help develop jazz audiences for the future, but also exemplify the deeply held American values that jazz represents: teamwork, unity with ethnic diversity, democracy, persistence, and the vital importance of really listening to one another.

The 2019 National Peer-to-Peer Jazz Quintet rehearses with Teaching Artist Antonio Hart and Institute Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development Dr. JB Dyas prior to the 2019 Competition on December 3, 2019. Photo by Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The 2019 group was composed of alto saxophonist Jalin Shiver(Newark), tenor saxophonist Sasha Ripley (Houston), pianist Dalton Hayse (Los Angeles), bassist Dario Bizio (Los Angeles), and drummer Jeremiah Collier (Chicago). The Quintet toured New England in spring 2019 with esteemed trumpeter/educator Sean Jones, performing in high schools in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. They also performed at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, DC, where they presented a workshop for the FTC’s highest level employees on leadership lessons that can be gleaned from the jazz paradigm.

The Institute congratulates these talented young artists on their achievements, and thanks them for their dedication to sharing the positive lessons of jazz with audiences of all ages.

2019 Guitar Competition Finalists Share Stage with Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock & Others at All-Star Gala Concert

Washington, DC – The 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition and All-Star Gala Concert came to a thrilling conclusion following the announcement of Evgeny Pobozhiy, 30, of Seversk, Russia, as first place winner of the Competition.  Pobozhiy then joined the evening’s honoree, Terence Blanchard, and a host of jazz guitar legends onstage for a dazzling performance of Wes Montgomery’s “Four On Six.”

Presented by the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, the world’s preeminent jazz education organization, the Competition awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a $30,000 scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Records for the first-place winner. Internationally acclaimed guitarists Stanley Jordan, Lionel LouekeRussell MalonePat MethenyChico PinheiroLee Ritenour and John Scofield served as the Competition judges.

The December 3rd event at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater featured a star-studded Gala Concert with the presentation of the Institute’s Maria Fisher Founder’s Award to multi-GRAMMY Award-winning trumpeter, composer and educator Terence Blanchard. The evening featured stellar performances by a diverse group of all-stars including Musical Director John Beasley, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Keith David, Antonio HartJane MonheitCassandra Wilson and Lizz Wright. They were joined onstage by many of Blanchard’s former Institute students, among them Billy BussAlan HamptonLionel LouekeGretchen ParlatoWalter Smith III and Dayna Stephens. These young artists have become leading names on the international jazz scene.

Evgeny Pobozhiy performs during the 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on December 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz)

First place winner Pobozhiy captivated the audience with his performances of “502 Blues” and “Falling Grace.” Second place winner Max Light, 27, of Bethesda, Maryland performed “Hey, It’s Me You’re Talking To” and “Prelude To A Kiss,” and third place winner Cecil Alexander, 25, of Muskegon, Michigan performed “One Finger Snap” and “Infant Eyes.” They were among the 12 outstanding, young guitarists from seven countries around the world who competed a day earlier in the Competition Semifinals at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s Rasmuson Theater. Pianist Reggie Thomas, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, drummer Carl Allen and saxophonist Bobby Watson accompanied each competitor.

The Gala began by shining a spotlight on emerging musicians. The Institute’s National Peer-to-Peer High School All-Star Jazz Quintet performed the Miles Davis standard “Seven Steps to Heaven” alongside saxophone great Antonio Hart. Among the nation’s most accomplished young jazz musicians, these students train with Institute teaching artists at public performing arts high schools across the country. 

The evening also showcased the Herbie Hancock Institute Ensemble, joined by vocalist and Institute graduate Michael Mayo, performing “I Remember You.” These gifted musicians from around the world receive full scholarships to attend the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance, the Institute’s master’s degree program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles. The students, who represent the next generation of jazz artists, study for two years with world-renowned jazz musicians, composers and educators.

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Musical Director John Beasley and Diego Urcola, a winner of the Institute’s 1997 Jazz Trumpet Competition, honored Louis Armstrong with their mesmerizing rendition of “What A Wonderful World.” Jane Monheit joined forces with Antonio Hart to pay tribute to Brazilian bossa nova with their performance of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic, “Chega de Saudade.” Monheit then spoke about one of her musical idols, the late Joe Williams, who served as a judge at the Institute’s 1998 Jazz Vocals Competition that launched her career. She introduced acclaimed actor and singer Keith David, who performed a segment from his touring stage musical, “Here’s To Life: Joe Williams.” In character as Joe Williams, David told stories of Williams’ life and treated the audience to two selections popularized by the incomparable vocalist: “Every Day I Have the Blues” and “Alright, Okay, You Win.” 

Additional highlights from the All-Star Gala Concert included Cassandra Wilson performing a soulful version of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” from Terence Blanchard’s 2001 recording, Let’s Get Lost, and Lizz Wright’s stunning rendition of “Detour Ahead” from Blanchard’s 1994 tribute album to Billie Holiday.

Terrance Blanchard, winner of the Maria Fisher Founder’s Award, holds the award as Arnold Donald, Lizz Wright, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cassandra Wilson, and Mitch Landrieu look on during the 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on December 3, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz)

Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans and Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, joined the celebration to praise Blanchard and his album “A Tale of God’s Will – A Requiem for Katrina,” which musically illustrated Hurricane Katrina’s devastating effect on the residents of New Orleans. After accepting the Maria Fisher Founder’s Award from Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock, Blanchard joined seven of his former Institute students to perform “Soldiers” from his GRAMMY-nominated 2015 release, Breathless.

Proceeds from the All-Star Gala Concert will support the Institute’s public school education programs in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Newark, San Francisco and Washington, DC. All of the Institute’s education programs are provided free of charge, with a special emphasis on serving economically disadvantaged public school students and their teachers and parents.

Air transportation was provided by United Airlines, Official Airline of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.

Press selects by Getty Images

Press selects by Steve Mundinger

Downloadable press release