College Program Class of 2023 Thrills L.A. Audiences with Monthly Residency at Sam First

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA has resumed its monthly residency at renowned Los Angeles jazz spot Sam First following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Class of 2023 recently gave its first evening of performances, consisting of two hourlong sets of creatively arranged standards and original compositions.

Regular performances are a key part of the Institute of Jazz Performance experience, with each class given opportunities to hone its skills as an ensemble in real-world contexts, workshop new compositions and develop connections with other local players and fans. Appearances by the Institute students are consistently well-attended affairs, reflecting the excitement around the talented, young players and their fresh, inventive approach to composing and performing. Since its return to L.A. in 2012, the Institute’s college program has been cited as a major positive influence on the city’s jazz scene.

Sam First was a natural choice to host the Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble each month. Opened in 2018 by real estate developer and jazz aficionado Paul Solomon, the venue is one of the newest in L.A. but has quickly built a reputation for showcasing intensely creative music by top-notch local and national artists. Under the guidance of Music Manager and Institute of Jazz Performance Class of 2014 graduate Dave Robaire, the club has featured an impressive roster of accomplished artists from across the spectrum, including many musicians who have conducted residencies and private lessons for Institute students, such as David Binney, Billy Childs, Larry Goldings, Dick Oatts, John Patitucci and Edward Simon, among many others. Institute graduates residing in L.A., including Paul Cornish, Mike Cottone, Anthony Fung, Michael Mayo, Jonathan Pinson, Daniel Rotem and Miro Sprague, have also received a warm welcome at the venue.

At their inaugural performance, the positive energy was palpable as the Institute students shared a slew of original music, including several compositions written as assignments under the guidance of Distiguished Professors Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and Composition Artist-in-Residence Billy Childs for their classes in the program.

“I just feel so good,” said Class of 2023 vocalist Darynn Dean, responding to enthusiastic applause from the eager audience. “It’s been so long since we’ve been able to make music. It’s been a really long year; we’ve all been shedding at home or over Zoom, and you all being here just really means the world to us.”

The Class of 2023 will next appear at Sam First on January 20 (live-streaming event at 7:30 pm), February 22 and March 22. For more information, visit

Guest Instructors Bring Diverse Perspectives, Insights to Institute of Jazz Performance

With schools across the country returning to in-person learning, the Institute’s college program recently welcomed a host of guest instructors back to campus at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to conduct socially distanced master classes and workshops for the Class of 2023.

As part of preparing the Institute students to navigate the music industry’s complex demands, the program engages a diverse lineup of experienced professionals to share their insights in daylong and multi-day residencies. The visiting jazz masters and music industry experts address essential artistic elements like improvisation and musicianship, as well as practical concepts like negotiating contracts, building a professional website and effectively using advanced production software and other technologies.

“Finding success as a working creative musician is about more than being skilled at your craft,” says Institute West Coast Director Daniel Seeff. “Jazz musicians today are increasingly expected to fulfill diverse roles beyond creating innovative music. The Institute aims to equip our students with a broad skillset that will serve them well when they enter the professional world.”

One familiar face on the Institute of Jazz Performance’s guest instructor roster for the last several years is veteran artist manager Karen Kennedy. The founder of 24 Seven Artist Development, over the past three decades Kennedy has managed the careers of some of the jazz world’s most revered figures. She currently counts NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron, Institute of Jazz Performance Class of 2003 graduate Gretchen Parlato and former Institute Peer-to-Peer All-Star James Francies among her clients. Kennedy recently met with the Institute’s students to discuss developing a five-year plan for their careers, creating promotional materials and learning how to budget for tours and albums, among other music business fundamentals.

Artist manager and Institute of Jazz Performance guest instructor Karen Kennedy leads a career seminar for the Class of 2023.

Other recent visitors include composer/producer Michael Stein, whose work can be heard on an array of contemporary film scores and commercial music. During Stein’s first visit, he worked with the Class of 2023 on different ways to apply the latest production and music sequencing software, including Cubase, Logic and Pro Tools, to their composition and performance work. The students also benefitted from a residency with five-time GRAMMY Award-winning pianist and composer Billy Childs, a fixture at the program who offered invaluable feedback on the young artists’ compositions and shared his unique process for developing and refining musical ideas.

Composer/pianist and Institute of Jazz Performance guest instructor Billy Childs works with Class of 2023 students Javier Santiago (left) and Emiliano Lasansky.

These and other guest instructors provide Institute of Jazz Performance students a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will help them achieve both on and off the bandstand. Learn more about how the Institute’s college program is preparing the next generation of jazz masters by clicking here.

Institute Education Vice President leads three-day residency at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

Dr. JB Dyas, the Institute’s Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development, visited the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) from November 17-19 for a residency with the school’s jazz ensembles. In collaboration with LACHSA jazz instructor Alex Hahn, a graduate of the Institute’s master’s level college program at UCLA, Dr. Dyas worked closely with the school’s big band and jazz combos. He gave private lessons to select students and mentored LACHSA faculty.

Institute Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development Dr. JB Dyas conducts the student big band at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts during a residency for the Institute’s National Performing Arts High Schools program.
Institute Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development Dr. JB Dyas works with a student at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts during a residency for the Institute’s National Performing Arts High Schools program.

Dr. Dyas also presented his acclaimed clinic on preparing for college auditions and securing music-related scholarships (“Getting the Big Scholarship”), of special interest to students seeking to pursue degrees in jazz performance. The presentation includes a systematic method for preparing repertoire, requesting letters of recommendation and selecting prospective schools, with plenty of insight into what college and conservatory adjudicators look for in applicants.

LACHSA is a longtime partner school in the Institute’s National Performing Arts High Schools jazz initiative. This specialized, performance-based program enables students at the nation’s leading public performing arts high schools to participate in small combos and receive instruction in theory, composition, improvisation, history and styles, preparing them to attend leading college, university and conservatory music programs. 

Through the National Performing Arts High Schools program, students benefit from regular workshops with professional jazz artists as well as an annual, multi-day residency by Dr. Dyas. Each residency includes private and group instruction on improvisation, theory, composition, jazz history and other topics, plus group rehearsals and master classes for all students in the jazz program. All in-person instruction follows relevant public health guidelines.

Support the Institute on Giving Tuesday, November 30, 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Institute in honor of Giving Tuesday–today, November 30, 2021.

Your gift helps the Institute bring life-changing jazz education programs to thousands of public school students across the United States. The Institute relies on private funding to offer its programs entirely free of charge to students, teachers, schools, families and communities.

The challenges of the last 18 months, from the pandemic to the renewed worldwide focus on racial inequities and social justice, have helped highlight the urgency of the Institute’s mission. For more than 30 years, we have been committed to serving a diverse and inclusive body of students. The majority of participants in Institute programs are students of color, and a high proportion come from low-income, underserved communities. Innovations in virtual learning technology mean that Institute programs like BeBop to Hip-Hop, the National Performing Arts High Schools and Jazz in the Classroom are today impacting more students than ever before.

These initiatives have a quantifiably positive impact on our students.

Beyond the statistics, the Institute’s programs truly uplift students with instruction that not only increases their musical knowledge, but also helps build life skills and provides an invaluable sense of community. Program participants develop lasting friendships with their bandmates and instructors while increasing self-confidence, discipline and determination. Jazz in the Classroom students, for example, regularly praise the program for its formative influence on their lives.

None of this would be possible without the support of our donors. The Institute needs your help to continue making a difference in the lives of thousands of students each year, while also preserving and perpetuating jazz and its extraordinary humanitarian legacy. Whether you are a music lover, someone eager to invest in educational equity for the next generation, or a bit of both, Giving Tuesday is your chance to show your support.

Thank you for your consideration.

Herbie Hancock Serves as the Voice of UNESCO 75th Anniversary Video

Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock played a prominent role in today’s 75th anniversary festivities for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), helping to raise awareness of the UN agency’s unique mandate to foster unity through shared knowledge and cultural heritage. Hancock, who serves as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, was invited to provide English narration for the official video overview of the many programs UNESCO has developed over the past 75 years.

The UNESCO 75th anniversary celebration is taking place during the organization’s 41st General Conference in Paris, France, where representatives from more than 190 member countries meet  every two years to discuss and shape policies on topics ranging from the ethics of artificial intelligence to combatting misinformation.

International Jazz Day, which the Institute coordinates each year in cooperation with the UN, UNESCO and thousands of partners around the world, was first declared by a unanimous vote at UNESCO’s 36th General Conference in 2011.


Founded in 1945 following the Second World War, UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that UNESCO accomplishes its mission to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. UNESCO’s overarching objectives include: attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning; mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development; addressing emerging social and ethical challenges; fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace; and building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication.

Announcing the Institute of Jazz Performance Class of 2023

Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz and UCLA Announce Incoming Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA Class of 2023

Los Angeles, CA – Eight extraordinary young jazz musicians have been selected for the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA, Class of 2023 starting this fall. Each will attain a Master of Music in Jazz Performance degree from The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, one of the nation’s top music schools, after completing this intensive, two-year program in spring 2023.

The Class of 2023 includes tenor saxophonist Art Baden of Rostov-on-Don, Russia; alto saxophonist Devin Daniels of Inglewood, California; vocalist Darynn Dean of Los Angeles, California; trumpeter Julien Knowles of Fresno, California; bassist Emiliano Lasansky of Iowa City, Iowa; drummer Benjamin Ring of Piedmont, California; pianist Javier Santiago of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and clarinetist Matthew Stubbs of San Jose, California. The musicians were selected through a rigorous application process culminating in an audition judged by legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock; renowned musician, producer and philanthropist Herb Alpert; and trumpeter, Blue Note recording artist and Institute of Jazz Performance alumnus Ambrose Akinmusire.

Herbie Hancock noted, “I am very excited about this new class of talented young musicians. They follow in the footsteps of their predecessors who are leaders in the world of creative music. I know they will also make important contributions and I look forward to hearing their ideas and encouraging their creativity during their time in this unique program.”

Launched in 1995, the Institute of Jazz Performance accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class and provides them with unparalleled opportunities to study jazz and its defining element of improvisation with master musicians, composers and educators. All students receive full scholarships, along with stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. This enables them to be fully immersed in their education and development as artists.

I am very excited about this new class of talented young musicians. They follow in the footsteps of their predecessors who are leaders in the world of creative music. I know they will also make important contributions and look forward to hearing their ideas and encouraging their creativity during their time in this unique program.

Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock

Throughout each academic year, world-renowned jazz masters serve as Artists-in-Residence, teaching and performing with the students. Artists-in-Residence have included Kenny Barron, Terence Blanchard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette, Nnenna Freelon, Kenny Garrett, Barry Harris, Stefon Harris, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Lewis Nash, Danilo Pérez, Dianne Reeves, John Scofield, and Wayne Shorter among many others. In addition, the students receive composition instruction from GRAMMY Award winner Billy Childs and study improvisation with Jerry Bergonzi and Dick Oatts – two of the world’s top jazz improvisation experts. Students graduate with a master’s degree in Jazz Performance from The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA, Class of 2023, includes (from left) Emilio Lasansky (bass), Art Baden (tenor saxophone), Javier Santiago (piano), Matthew Stubbs (clarinet), Darynn Dean (vocals), Devin Daniels (alto saxophone), Julien Knowles (trumpet) and Benjamin Ring (drums). Photo by Don Liebig/ASUCLA Photography for the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz 

The aspiring musicians study both individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching, and lectures on the jazz tradition. They are also encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances. A music business and technology component helps prepare the students for their careers as professional musicians.

Under the mentorship of their acclaimed instructors, the college students – collectively known as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble at UCLA – present high-profile concerts and lead jazz education and community outreach programs in Los Angeles, across the United States and around the world. In recent years, the students performed at International Jazz Day events in St. Petersburg, Russia; Havana, Cuba; and the White House. They also have participated in performance and education tours of Argentina, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam with Herbie Hancock.

Institute of Jazz Performance alumni – including Ambrose Akinmusire, Lionel Loueke, Gretchen Parlato, Walter Smith III, Dayna Stephens and Helen Sung, along with many others – have gone on to major careers as performing and recording artists, touring the world with legendary jazz musicians and as leaders of their own groups.

Philanthropist and namesake of The Herb Alpert School of Music, Herb Alpert said, “This new group of incredible young musicians will be able to perform together and learn as a group after a challenging period in which the pandemic created so many obstacles for musicians and live music performances. For them to have the opportunity to learn one-on-one and as a group from jazz masters is a beacon of hope in this difficult time.”

Institute President Tom Carter said, “The Institute is pleased to welcome this new group of phenomenal musicians into the program, where they will learn from legendary artists and some of the most creative minds in music. These students will serve as jazz ambassadors throughout the world as they perform and teach, sharing what they learn from jazz masters with future generations of musicians.”

UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Inaugural Dean Eileen Strempel shared “The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA provides the most promising jazz talents with opportunities to learn from world-renowned jazz artists. Studying on a full academic graduate fellowship in The Herb Alpert School of Music’s rich, creative environment, students focus entirely on developing their artistry. We are delighted to continue our partnership with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz and invest in the future of this vital art form.”

Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA – Class of 2023

Art Baden, tenor saxophone, was born in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, and began playing piano, his first instrument, at age 4. He received full scholarships to attend the Hanze Prince Claus Conservatoire in Groningen, Netherlands, and a year later, the Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, he studied with Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Ralph Peterson and Frank Tiberi, and received a Bachelor of Music degree. Baden placed third in the Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition. He is an ambassador for Remy saxophones and has performed at clubs and festivals around the world with artists including Joe Locke, Ralph Peterson, Evgeny Pobozhiy and Alex Sipiagin.

Devin Daniels, alto saxophone, is from Inglewood, CA. He picked up the saxophone at age 11 and participated in the Institute’s Jazz in the Classroom and All-City Big Band music education programs in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Daniels has also been part of the Southern California Honor Jazz Band, Fernando Pullum Jazz Band, Colburn School of Music Combo and Big Band, Los Angeles Youth Jazz Ensemble and Jazz America. He received awards from YoungArts, Vandoren Young Artists Competition, The Music Center and the Charles Dolo Coker Jazz Scholarship Foundation. Daniels was named Performer of the Year at Hamilton High School and the Berklee Jazz Workshop, and was a finalist for the Dave Brubeck Institute Quintet. He attended the Berklee College of Music as a Presidential Scholar and graduated with a B.M. in Professional Music. Daniels has performed with Billy Childs, Donald Vega, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Ralph Moore and Miguel Artwood Ferguson.

Darynn Dean, voice, was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music with a B.A. in Jazz Vocal Performance and a minor in Cultural Studies. She hails from a musical family: her father, Donald Dean, Jr., and grandfather, Donald Dean, Sr., are renowned drummers and her cousin, Jamael Dean, is a rising star pianist. Dean participated in the 2019 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency and was mentored by Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jason Moran. She has performed with Freddie Cole, Dave Holland, Dave Koz, Hubert Laws and Aaron Parks. Dean placed first in the National YoungArts Foundation, Dolo Coker and NAACP ACT-SO competitions, and was a finalist in The Music Center Spotlight Awards. She performed at the 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival with The Woodshed Network and sang at the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s “Celebrating the World of Quincy Jones” tribute.

Julien Knowles, trumpet, was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Fresno, CA. He began playing trumpet at age 10. In 2015, Knowles received the Presidential Scholarship and the Agnes Barringere Music Memorial Endowment to attend the Jazz and Improvisational Music program at the University of Nevada, Reno. He studied with Ralph Alessi, Peter Epstein, Adam Benjamin and Shane Endsley, and received the Nevada Undergraduate Research Award to study composition with John Hollenbeck and present new works for large ensemble. Knowles co-founded the Laughing Planet Jam Session and the Visiting Artist Committee, which presented residencies with top jazz artists. He has played trumpet and composed for the Reno Jazz Orchestra, performing with Kurt Elling, Tierney Sutton and Diane Schuur.

Emiliano Lasansky, bass, was born in Iowa City, IA. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including a DownBeat Student Award, third place in the International Society of Bassists Competition, and two residency fellowships at the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Workshop at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has studied with Jeff Campbell, Bill Dobbins, Dariusz Terefenko and Gary Palmer. Since graduating from the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Lasansky has performed with artists including Dennis Mackrel, Jimmy Greene, Harold Danko and Clay Jenkins. He has served as a teacher at the Rockport Jazz Camp and Birch Creek Music Performance Center.

Benjamin Ring, drums, is from Piedmont, CA. He was accepted into the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra at age 12 and both the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars and the Berkeley Jazzschool Studio Band at age 14. Ring also participated in the Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. While earning his Bachelor of Arts in Music at the University of Southern California, he studied with Ndugu Chancler, Peter Erskine, Will Kennedy, Vince Mendoza and Patrice Rushen. Performing across Europe, Japan and the United States, Ring has shared the stage with David Binney, Terri Lyne Carrington, Louis Cole, Ravi Coltrane, Remy LeBoeuf, Donny McCaslin, Bob Mintzer, Patrice Rushen, Ed Simon and members of the San Francisco and Chicago symphonies. He has received scholarships and awards from the Monterey Jazz Festival, YoungArts and SFJAZZ.

Javier Santiago, piano, was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, and has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. He was selected to participate in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Workshop at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and in the Mentor Fellowship Program at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. In addition, he won first place honors in the 2015 American Jazz Pianist Competition and received the 2016 McKnight Fellowship for Musicians. Santiago attended the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School, where he studied with Aaron Goldberg, Kevin Hays, Aaron Parks and Edward Simon. He has released two albums on the Ropeadope label.

Matthew Stubbs, clarinet, was born in San Jose, CA, and grew up in nearby Mountain View. He began playing clarinet at age 9. Throughout his teens, he was involved with both the San Jose and San Francisco High School All-Star programs and toured Eastern Europe with the El Camino Senior Symphony. Stubbs graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Performance and Jazz Composition from the Berklee College of Music and later received a M.M. in Contemporary Performance from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. He has studied with Terri Lyne Carrington and George Garzone, among many others, and has performed with Danilo Pérez, Kenny Werner and Rakalam Bob Moses. Stubbs was the last clarinetist to be featured in the late Ralph Peterson’s Fo’tet.

About the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization established in 1986. Its mission is to offer the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and to present public school-based 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. The Institute’s programs help fill a tremendous void in arts education left by budget cuts in public school funding, and use jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image, and respect for one’s own and others’ cultural heritage.

About the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA

In January 2016, the University of California Board of Regents formally established The Herb Alpert School of Music as UCLA’s 12th professional school and the first music school in the University of California system. Created in 2007 with a $30 million gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation, the school sets a new standard for 21st century music schools by balancing performance and scholarship, and by embracing classical western music, world music and jazz, and popular contemporary music. With more than 550 undergraduate and graduate students, the school offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs through three highly rated academic departments, each with internationally acclaimed faculty. The Department of Music competes for students with the nation’s top music schools. It provides intensive individual studio instruction, thorough theoretical training and full participation in large and small ensembles, and offers many degree tracks including the M.M. degree in conjunction with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. The Department of Ethnomusicology is the only one of its kind in the U.S. and the most celebrated program in the world for the study of diverse musical cultures. The Department of Musicology teaches and conducts research on jazz, heavy metal, techno, musical theater, and other forms of popular music as well as European classical music. The National Research Council recently recognized UCLA Musicology as the top ranked academic music doctoral program in the U.S. Visit The Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA online.

Download a PDF of the press release.

Download the Class of 2023 group photo.

Institute Trustee Wayne Shorter Announced as 2021 Doris Duke Artist

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announced that renowned saxophonist, composer, bandleader and Institute Trustee Wayne Shorter is among the recipients of the 2021 Doris Duke Artist Awards, recognizing his extraordinary contributions to composed and improvised music over a career spanning more than six decades.

Shorter joins his bandmate, UNESCO Artist for Peace and longtime Institute collaborator Danilo Pérez, as well as pianist Kris Davis in the Awards’ jazz category. Also among the honorees is theater director Lileana Blain-Cruz, who is currently collaborating with Shorter on his operatic work, “Iphigenia,” set to a libretto by esperanza spalding.

First awarded in 2011, the Doris Duke Artist Awards provide a select group of exemplary artists with prizes of $275,000 each, $250,000 of which is unrestricted. According to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, “The award is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, it is a deep investment in the creative potential of dedicated artists. The foundation aims to empower Doris Duke Artists through the freedom of unrestricted support to take creative risks, explore new ideas, and pay for important professional and personal needs not typically funded by the project-related grants that dominate arts funding.”

The Institute sends its sincere congratulations to Shorter and all of the 2021 Doris Duke Artists on this well-deserved honor.

Click here to read the full announcement and learn more about the 2021 Doris Duke Artists.

Stanley Jordan, Legendary Guitarist and Educator, Gives Jazz in the Classroom Workshops for DCPS Students

Iconic jazz guitarist and educator Stanley Jordan paid a visit to the Institute’s Jazz in the Classroom programs at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. this week, sharing insights gained over more than four decades of playing professionally. Jordan’s sessions at Ellington and Wilson heralded the return of in-person, socially distanced master classes for the Institute’s programs in the District of Columbia, following 18 months of online-only learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students at Ellington had the chance to show off their chops for Jordan on arrangements of Thad Jones’ “A Child is Born,” Chick Corea’s “Spain” and Roy Hargrove’s “Strasbourg/St. Denis.” The multi-GRAMMY Award nominee offered feedback on the performances, encouraging the young players to be mindful of the unique musical personalities of their peers, and to support others’ self-expression.

At Wilson, Jordan went in-depth on topics including the minor blues, turnarounds and group dynamics. He worked closely with the student guitarists, highlighting voicings that can be used to complement the role of the piano in the ensemble, and discussed the importance of honoring the vision of the arranger and composer when interpreting a chart. While rehearsing the Lou Donaldson tune “Blues Walk,” the young musicians had an opportunity to play alongside the legendary guitarist as he conducted the band from the rhythm section.

The session also afforded older Wilson students an opportunity to reconnect with Jordan – who had previously visited the school for an Institute master class prior to the pandemic – asking him questions about his diverse musical, scientific and educational pursuits.

About Stanley Jordan

Stanley Jordan is an extraordinary artist who has earned headlines around the world for his innovative way of playing guitar. By age 13, he had begun studying jazz and developing his distinctive technique, which allows him to play chords with both hands or perform two simultaneous melodies. Jordan attended Princeton University, where he studied music and had the opportunity to perform with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie. Following a period as a street musician in New York, he released his 1985 album Magic Touch, making him the first artist signed to the newly recreated Blue Note label. After several more releases, Jordan retreated from the limelight, moving to the Southwest to pursue his growing interest in music therapy. In recent years, he has continued to tour and record while still devoting time to his passion for music therapy. Jordan’s latest release, in collaboration with fellow guitarist Kevin Eubanks, is titled Duets

About Jazz in the Classroom

The Institute’s worldwide, highly regarded Jazz in the Classroom programs are tailored for elementary, middle, high school and college students to help them develop an understanding of and appreciation for jazz music. The initiative strives to share the positive aspects of jazz with young people who would not otherwise have opportunities to learn about this great national treasure. Through Jazz in the Classroom, the Institute has reached millions of students, teachers, and families in major cities as well as rural and remote communities, with many of the participants experiencing jazz for the first time. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact learning across the country, the Institute is working closely with teachers and officials at each of its partner schools to offer instruction that meets students’ needs while also adhering to public health policies. The Institute continues to offer virtual programming where necessary.

Institute Students Head Back to School for 2021-22 Academic Year

Students across the Institute’s programs recently began heading back to school for the 2021-22 academic year, with the continuing impacts of COVID-19 necessitating a wide range of safety protocols and alternative strategies, including continued virtual learning. The Institute is working diligently with teachers and administrators in each of its partner schools to confront the complex challenges presented by the pandemic, and ensure that students from every background continue to get the most out its programming.

Jazz in the Classroom activities are ramping back up in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Institute teaching artists are bringing their insight to jazz band, combo, orchestra and other ensemble classes, helping students grasp and practice such musical concepts as improvisation, song form and swing. Instruction also focuses on building life skills that will aid students throughout their academic careers and beyond. Of particular importance, the study of jazz is a highly effective method for developing discipline, enhancing communication, sharpening math skills, and–naturally–learning to improvise, a critical ability in everyday life.

Institute staff, instructors and students are happy to be discussing these lessons face-to-face once again, even masked and with appropriate social distancing. “Teaching virtually has its advantages–for one thing, being able to reach so many students throughout the country–but there is nothing quite like being back in the classroom and in front of a band,” says Institute Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development Dr. JB Dyas. “We are tremendously excited to be able to resume in-person teaching and learning with the necessary safety measures in place.”

After more than a year of meeting exclusively via videoconference, Dyas is in the process of scheduling school site visits for the Institute’s National Performing Arts High Schools (NPAHS) jazz program, an annual tradition that the pandemic disrupted. He is set to travel to partner schools in Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Houston and other locations over the course of the fall semester. At the same time, the Institute expects to reinstitute weekly visits by local master instructors at schools in the NPAHS program, working with students on a wide variety of jazz topics, including ensemble playing, time feel and improvisation. This intensive technical instruction will help the young players hone vital performance skills that were difficult to practice during self-isolation.

The current hybrid landscape marks a change from the previous academic year, when the Institute offered all of its free jazz education programming virtually in accordance with state and local policy and public health guidelines. Core initiatives such as Jazz in the Classroom and the National Performing Arts High Schools jazz program were retooled to focus on concepts compatible with the distance learning format, including music theory, reading rhythms, repertoire memorization, transcription, active listening and jazz history. Students had overwhelmingly positive responses to the adapted setup. One student noted that “despite the world seemingly shutting down,” Jazz in the Classroom “showed that music will always keep on going, which is very inspiring to me.”

In addition, last spring seniors in the Institute’s programs had an impressive finish to their high school studies, with 100% graduating from high school and more than 90% going on to college, most receiving scholarships. Many cited the Institute as a helpful influence during the pandemic. Said one recent graduate, “Having jazz as a creative outlet during that difficult time was how I kept a positive outlook on life.”

2008 Saxophone Competition Winner Jon Irabagon to Star in Upcoming Solo Performance Film

Renowned first-generation Filipino-American saxophonist and composer Jon Irabagon, winner of the Institute’s 2008 International Saxophone Competition, is set to star in an innovative new performance film released by Columbus, Ohio, nonprofit A Tribe for Jazz.

LEGACY: Jon Irabagon, a Solo Tenor Odyssey showcases Irabagon performing his original compositions entirely unaccompanied in a dramatic black box theater environment. Included in the 40-minute concert is career-spanning repertoire featuring two previously unreleased compositions, “Greebles” and “Alliance.” Directed by Julian Melanson and produced by A Tribe for Jazz Executive Director Stephanie Matthews, the film will also shine a spotlight on Columbus institutions including the Columbus Dance Theatre, Garden Manor House, Le Meridien Columbus, Columbus Athletic Club, Lincoln Social and The Guild House.

LEGACY will debut online on Friday, October 15, 2021. Visit A Tribe for Jazz for more information.

At the Institute’s 2008 Saxophone Competition, Irabagon was awarded first-place honors by a distinguished panel of judges including Jane Ira Bloom, Jimmy Heath, Greg Osby, David Sánchez and Institute Trustee Wayne Shorter. Performing alongside GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, who currently serves as an Institute Trustee, the Chicago-born saxophonist wowed the audience with his memorable interpretation of the classic jazz standard “Just Friends.”

“The Competition was a chance to meet many of my colleagues and heroes,” says Irabagon. “The world needs more of that. Mr. Shorter in particular was adamant about me finding my own way and direction in this music, and that is the biggest, most important thing I took from that weekend.  I wouldn’t be as confident or undeterred with my own music without having been a part of the Competition.”

2008 International Saxophone Competition winner Jon Irabagon performs alongside Institute Trustees Wayne Shorter and Jimmy Heath at the Institute’s 25th Anniversary Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, September 12, 2011. Photo by Chip Latshaw.

Since his Competition win, Irabagon has repeatedly topped leading critics’ polls, including the DownBeat Rising Star categories for both alto and tenor saxophone, and was named one of New York City’s 25 Jazz Icons by Time Out New York. His collaborations with an array of artists and groups from across the jazz spectrum, including Dave Douglas, Barry Altschul, Rudy Royston, Mary Halvorson, Matt Mitchell and Mostly Other People Do the Killing — with which he recorded Blue in 2014, a note-for-note recreation of Miles Davis’ vaunted release Kind of Blue — have gained him wide recognition. Irabagon launched his own imprint, Irabbagast Records, in 2012, and has released 12 full-length albums to date.

Today, Irabagon is a leading voice on the saxophone whose musical vision reflects both his improvisational and compositional mastery and a deep commitment to his Filipino heritage. In 2014, he was awarded the Pamana ng Pilipino Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas, recognizing his contribution to the perception of Filipinos worldwide.

About A Tribe for Jazz

Formed by jazz and arts supporter Bruce Halliburton, A Tribe for Jazz is a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve the legacy and advance the future of jazz through visual storytelling, live and virtual performances, education and community engagement. The nonprofit says LEGACY is “the first of many special, transformative moments to follow from A Tribe for Jazz, as it weaves stories and themes from varied angles, fused with unexpected and dynamic visuals, to present a portrait of jazz as the captivating, multidimensional art form that it is.”