Founder, Artistic Director, Ensemble Director
Terri Lyne Carrington is an NEA Jazz Master, Doris Duke Artist, and four-time Grammy Award–winning drummer, composer, producer, and educator. She serves as founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, as well artistic director for both Next Jazz Legacy program (a collaboration with New Music USA) and the Carr Center in Detroit, Michigan. She has performed on more than 100 recordings over her 40-year career and has toured and recorded with luminaries such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, esperanza spalding, and numerous others. Her artistry and commitment to education has earned her honorary doctorates from York University, Manhattan School of Music, and Berklee College of Music, and her curatorial work and music direction have been featured in many prestigious institutions internationally. The critically acclaimed 2019 release, Waiting Game, from Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science earned the esteemed Edison Award for music and a Grammy nomination. In fall of 2022, she authored two books, Three of a Kind (about the forming of the Allen Carrington Spalding trio) and the seminal songbook collection, New Standards: 101 Lead Sheets by Women Composers. This book was accompanied by the album New Standards Vol.1 (Candid Records) which won the Grammy Award for the best jazz instrumental album, and New Standards art installation, at Detroit’s Carr Center and the Emerson Contemporary Media Art Gallery, as part of the Jazz Without Patriarchy Project.
Managing Director, Associate Professor
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Aja Burrell Wood is an ethnomusicologist, educator, and curator with a background in development and violin performance. Before her time at Berklee College of Music, she taught courses on music, history, and culture at the City University of New York (CUNY), City College, and Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. Her work includes research on musical community among black classical musicians, jazz and gender, jazz in the digital era, music and civic engagement, and other related genres of the African diaspora such as blues, hip-hop, soul, and West African traditions. She has been a visiting fellow at the New School in addition to her role as guest lecturer at New York University and various institutions throughout New York City. She has curated performances for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for their Annual Women’s Jazz Festival. She has also served as an arts presenting consultant and thought partner for organizations such as Harlem Stage, Weeksville Heritage Center, and the Sphinx Organization. In 2023, she managed the curation of New Standards: 101 Lead Sheets By Women Composers.
Associate Program Director of Creative Development, Ensemble Director
Kris Davis is a Grammy Award–winning pianist and composer described by The New York Times as a beacon for “deciding where to hear jazz [in New York] on a given night.” Davis has released 24 recordings as a leader or coleader and collaborated with artists such as Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Holland, John Zorn, Craig Taborn, Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey, and esperanza spalding. She was named a 2021 Doris Duke Artist alongside Wayne Shorter and Danilo Pérez, Pianist of the Year by DownBeat magazine in 2022 and 2020, and Pianist and Composer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2021. In 2019, Kris Davis’s Diatom Ribbons was named jazz album of the year by both the New York Times and the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. The album draws from the musical worlds of free improvisation, spoken word, electronica, mainstream jazz, R&B, and rock. In September 2023, Davis released Diatom Ribbons—Live at the Village Vanguard featuring Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, Julian Lage on guitar, Val Jeanty on turntables and electronics, and Trevor Dunn on bass. Davis is the associate program director of creative development at the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice and the founder of Pyroclastic Records.
Halley Elwell is an arts administrator and singer-songwriter who got her start in jazz and found a gateway through improvisation to composition. She has received accolades for her work from ASCAP, Nashville Songwriters Association, and the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. In addition to writing and releasing her music independently, Halley has a knack for building systems and programs and previously worked for SFJAZZ as their education program manager.
Artist in Residence
Ledisi is a 12-time Grammy-nominated powerhouse vocalist with a career spanning almost two decades. Since arriving on the scene in the late 1990s, she's garnered numerous awards, including a 2021 Grammy Award, three Soul Train Music Awards, and an NAACP Theater Award. She has headlined two nationally sold-out tours and performed alongside Dave Matthews, Kelly Clarkson, Vince Gill, and Maxwell, as well as jazz greats Herbie Hancock and Patti Austin. No stranger to the film and television world, Ledisi landed her first feature, singing in the George Clooney–directed film Leatherheads. In 2015 she portrayed the great Mahalia Jackson in the Oscar-nominated movie Selma, and had a notable performance in Gabourey Sidibe’s Shatterbox Anthology film, The Tale of Four. Ledisi also acted on television as the legendary Patti LaBelle on the hit BET series American Soul. Ledisi has also been active in the theater, appearing in Tony Kushner’s Caroline or Change, directed by George C. Wolfe, and workshopping the Tony Award–winning musical The Color Purple. Ledisi returned to theater in 2019 in the critically acclaimed off-broadway musical Witness Uganda, as well as her one-woman show, The Legend of Little Girl Blue. Ledisi is extremely passionate about being an advocate for the arts, lobbying for young musicians and protecting the rights of creatives. She is an author, releasing her first book Better Than Alright: Finding Peace, Love and Power, a collaboration with Essence magazine. Her latest book, Don’t Ever Lose Your Walk: How to Embrace Your Journey is released through her own publishing company. Ledisi is beginning her third semester at Berklee as an artist in residence for the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.
Artist in Residence in Partnership with the Brass Department
Grammy Award–winning Nicholas Payton is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, producer, arranger, essayist, and social activist who defies musical and artistic categories. Payton has released over 20 recordings as a leader, pushing musical boundaries and showcasing a variety of contemporary and traditional styles. He has collaborated with numerous mentors and contemporaries alike, including Common, Cassandra Wilson, MonoNeon, Jill Scott, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Abbey Lincoln, to name a few. In addition to Payton’s work as a performer, he is a respected composer, having written The Black American Symphony, which he performed with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. As a leader, Payton’s seminal writings and discussions on the problematics of the term and associations of “jazz” have inspired musicians, researchers, music listeners, and thinkers alike. As such, he termed Black American music, or #BAM for short, to represent the breadth of improvisational musical creations created by Black people in the U.S., regardless of genre.
Bassist and composer Linda May Han Oh has performed and recorded with artists such as Pat Metheny, Kenny Barron, Joe Lovano, and Geri Allen. Raised in Perth, Australia, and currently based in New York City, she has received many awards, including second place at the BASS2010 Competition, an Australian Bell Award, honorary mention at the 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition, and the place of semifinalist at the BMW Jazz Competition. Oh was voted the 2012 DownBeat Critics Poll Rising Star on bass and the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Bassist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, as well as 2019's Up and Coming Artist of the Year. She has had five releases as a leader, which have received critical acclaim, and she has written for large and small ensembles as well as for film. Oh is an associate professor at Berklee College of Music and has created a series of lessons for the BassGuru app for iPad/iPhone.
Haitian-born Val Jeanty is a Brooklyn-based Afro-electronic (VodouElectro) music composer, drummer, and turntablist. Her installations have been showcased at the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and Lincoln Center in New York City, and internationally at Jazz a la Villette in France, the Venice Biennale in Italy, and SaalFelden Jazz Festival in Austria. She was a 2019 NYSCA Artist Fellowship recipient and has worked with a diverse array of artists including Anthony Braxton, Andrew Cyrille, and Geri Allen. Other highlights include “Fascinating Her Resilience,” a Wesleyan University commissioned multimedia performance collaboration with professor Gina Ulysse and work with Afro-Cuban bassist Yosvany Terry on his Grammy-nominated album, New Throned King.
Neal Smith was the first African-American to earn a degree in jazz studies from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In addition to his academic training, Smith studied with Vernell Fournier, Greg Bandy, Paul Samuels, Jeff Hamilton, and others. Smith performs regularly with internationally recognized artists and has shared the stage with the likes of Tom Harrell, Anita Baker, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Fortune, Eddie Harris, Isaac Hayes, Gary Bartz, Marlena Shaw, Benny Golson, Donald Walden, Frank Morgan, Brian Lynch, Benny Green, Cyrus Chestnut, Russell Malone, Rufus Reid, Wendell Logan, James Moody, and many more. Smith also leads his own group, which performs original compositions as well as classic arrangements of jazz standards. Recognizing the need for a record label that focuses exclusively on the production of jazz recordings, he founded the NAS label in 2004. Beyond performing, Smith loves to teach developing drummers. He is currently a professor at Berklee College of Music, the New School, and Longy School of Music.
Farayi Malek is a jazz and contemporary vocalist, composer, and educator. She received her bachelor’s degree in contemporary improvisation from New England Conservatory of Music in 2017 where she studied with vocalist and composer Dominique Eade. Upon completion, she continued on to receive a master’s degree in contemporary performance at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in 2018, under the tutelage of world-renowned pianist and composer, Danilo Pérez. Since 2018, Malek has been a member of Danilo Pérez's Global Messengers. Their 2022 album Crisalida was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. In addition to her performance ventures, Malek is a passionate music educator. In January 2020, she founded Allegro Virtual Preparatory Instruction, an online learning platform that strives to provide students with access to the highest possible level of preparation for the study of music in higher education in order to maximize the chance of admittance and scholarship funding, and to build foundational skills for success and heightened creativity. Malek now teaches at both Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory in multiple capacities.
A leading guitarist of his generation, two-time Grammy-nominated Matthew Stevens's "singular style dissolves the demarcation lines between jazz, rock, and ambient music" (Mojo). Stevens’s music is “honest and soulful” (Pitchfork) and is described as “music [that] advances the ideals of modern jazz” (WBGO). In addition to his critically acclaimed solo albums, Woodwork, Preverbal, Pittsburgh, and In Common 1, 2 and 3 with Walter Smith III, Stevens’' songs and guitar playing are featured on over 50 recordings including those by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, esperanza spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Douglas, NEXT Collective, Sean Jones, Linda May Han Oh, Harvey Mason, and Anna B Savage. Stevens has performed at top venues and festivals all over the world with artists from Chris Thile to Gustavo Dudamel. His performances have been lauded in Billboard, The Guardian, JazzTimes, NPR, New York Times, Pitchfork, and more. As a producer, Stevens worked on esperanza spalding’s groundbreaking album Exposure, and her Grammy-winning album 12 Little Spells. He also coproduced Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-nominated albums Waiting Game and New Standards. Most recently, Stevens produced I Am A Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100, which features artists including Valerie June, Dolly Parton, Rosanne Cash, Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Steve Earle.
Edmar Colón is a saxophonist, pianist, and composer from Coamo, Puerto Rico, who is currently living in Boston. He has toured and played in venues and events such as the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival, the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Panama Jazz Festival, and the Montreal Jazz Festival, among others. He recently played in the Kennedy Center for the Arts Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival and the Abbey Lincoln tribute tour with Grammy Award recipients Terri Lyne Carrington, esperanza spalding, Dianne Reeves, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Colón has performed with artists such as Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, Danilo Pérez, Danny Rivera, and Ledisi, among many other notable artists from various musical genres. He has written and arranged music for Carrington, spalding, Rivera, and the Harvard University Orchestra, among others. In 2016, Colón was awarded the Latino 30 under 30 Award New England from the newspaper El Mundo. He was also awarded first prize at the Keep an Eye International Jazz Awards in Amsterdam as a part of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. In 2017, he was honored in the annual Patron Saint festivities of his hometown of Coamo.