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Next Jazz Legacy announces its first class of awardees

Next Jazz Legacy
The inaugural Next Jazz Legacy awardees. Top row: Lexi Hamner, Loke Risberg, Anastassiya Petrova; Center: Alexis Lombre. Bottom row: Keyanna Hutchinson, Ivanna Cuesta, Kalia Vandever.

Last fall, New Music USA and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice announced a three-year program called Next Jazz Legacy, devoted to the cultivation of apprenticeships for women and nonbinary musicians. This morning the initiative — led by NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington — announced its first group of seven awardees, along with the distinguished mentors with whom they'll be matched.

"The rich legacy of jazz can only get better when we are inclusive," Carrington, founder of the Institute, says in a press statement. "We are at a time in history where varying communities are having to rethink their social and political positions. This generation is demanding that we open our minds and hearts to consider a future with greater distance from the customs and standards of the past. As educators and mentors, it is our job to listen to them and work together to make needed change."

Next Jazz Legacy

The awardees represent a wide range of backgrounds and musical style, which feels true to the spirit of the initiative. Each will receive a $10,000 grant, limited funds to enroll in a Berklee Online course, quarterly check-ins with Carrington, and other means of support. Their primary benefit, of course, will be their intensive apprenticeships, supplemented by what the program calls "Creative Mentorships."

So Ivanna Cuesta, a Dominican-born drummer and composer, will apprentice with Esperanza Spalding and receive a creative mentorship with Wayne Shorter. Lexi Hamner, a vocalist based in Cincinnati, will apprentice with Tia Fuller and have a creative mentor in Bobby McFerrin.

Keyanna Hutchinson, a guitarist from Brooklyn, has an apprenticeship with Lizz Wright and a creative mentorship with Brandon Ross. Alexis Lombre, a pianist, vocalist and composer from Chicago, will apprentice with Marcus Miller and receive a creative mentorship with Georgia Anne Muldrow.

Anastassiya Petrova, a pianist and organist originally from Kazakhstan, has an apprenticeship with Chris Potter and a creative mentorship with Kris Davis. Swedish-born guitarist Loke Risberg will apprentice with Linda May Han Oh and have a creative mentorship with Bill Stewart. And trombonist Kalia Vandever will have an apprenticeship with Mary Halvorson and a creative mentorship with Jen Shyu.

"When I was getting started in the jazz and improvised music world I had very few female mentors or peers, and always wished I had more," reflects Halvorson in a statement. "That's one of many reasons I feel it's important to support and nurture a younger generation of female and non-binary musicians and composers."

Next Jazz Legacy Awardees

Next Jazz Legacy, which is sustained with major funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will reopen applications throughout its designated three-year run. For this first class, the selection committee included Carrington, Ambrose Akinmusire, Sean Jones, Nicole Mitchell, Cassandra Wilson and Miguel Zenón. An advisory board includes musicians like Davis as well as representatives from WBGO, Winter Jazzfest, Jazz at Lincoln Center and other organizations.

For more information about Next Jazz Legacy, visit its website.