This performance will feature the music of the Grammy Award-wining jazz composer Maria Schneider. With their true respect to Schneider's artistic achievements, three Berklee students majoring in jazz composition will present their new arrangement, performed by four vocalists and 12 other great instrumentalists. Mark Walker, a Berklee professor and renowned drummer in contemporary/world jazz and scene, is also featuring for host drummer Jinho Choi's composition, dedicated to Schneider.
The Aubrey Johnson Sextet will perform Johnson’s original compositions and arrangements with strong folk, jazz, and Brazilian influences. The music performed will be recorded in August and released by the Inner Circle Music label in early 2014. The group’s instrumentation includes voice, alto/soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, violin, piano, bass, and drums.
Vanisha Gould, a 21-year-old jazz vocalist and composer from Simi Valley, California, is currently finishing her senior year at Berklee. Her father, a jazz flutist, and her mother, a vocalist, made sure that she and her brother were always surrounded by music.
Gould attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Performing and Visual Arts for one semester before her family moved to Cedar Hill, Texas. She completed her high school education at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where she was a member of the Lab Singers and the school’s Jazz Combo. During her senior year of high school, she was a finalist for the Grammy Vocal Jazz Ensemble and went to Miami as an NFAA YoungArts finalist for vocal jazz.
In addition to these accomplishments, she was awarded a scholarship to Berklee, where she has performed with professor Ron Savage, Grace Kelly, and Grammy Award-winner Terri Lyne Carrington. She was also the second vocalist to be in Berklee’s prestigious Global Jazz Institute, studying under Danilo Perez, John Patitucci, David Gilmore, Joe Lovano, George Garzone, and Marco Pignataro.
After earning her degree in professional music from Berklee, she plans to move to New York at the end of the year to further pursue her career as a composer and performer.
Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Byron Manchest's impressive melodies and harmonies were founded at the Drakensberg Boys' Choir School, where he trained under the top classical vocalists in the country. While attending school four hours away from his family, he found himself filling his free time by listening to who now are some of his favorite artists, such as Marvin Gaye. During this time, he resolved to learn how to accompany his original songs, as his idol Stevie Wonder had done. Moving forward, Manchest wrote lyrics and melodies that reminded him of family and the hardships of his hometown.
At 17, he flew to Boston for one of the biggest auditions of his life, at Berklee . Manchest is now working with some of the top professors, producers, and talent managers to become the artist he has always dreamed of being, and is looking forward to sharing his music with anyone willing to listen. He looks forward to the future and his upcoming career.
Albino Mbie was born in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, a country in southern Africa known for its rich musical and cultural heritage. Fueled by the resourcefulness and determination that have always characterized Mozambicans, he built his first guitar at age 16 from scrap wood, strings made out of electrical cords, and a five-liter can of oil.
Drawn to the sounds of neighborhood street musicians in Maputo, Mbie began to play in a number of local bands and wanted to combine styles, incorporating diverse elements in his music. For his talents to grow, he knew he needed experience new places, cultures, and sounds.
While studying music education and performance at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, he heard about Berklee and soon afterward became one of the first students to receive a full scholarship to Berklee through the African Scholars program in 2009.
At Berklee, he was exposed to a variety of influences but wanted to go deeper into the roots of jazz and expand his knowledge of music. He auditioned and was selected to participate in the Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI), which is directed by Danilo Pérez and has a roster of teachers that includes Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, and Terri Lyne Carrington. BGJI fosters a musician's artistic vision, and has helped Mbie find his own unique voice in the art form.
Mbie still felt the absence of his Mozambican traditions in his music. With the help of his mentors, Richard Bona and Lionel Loueke—two of the most prominent African musicians in the United States—he began to bridge that gap.
Today, Mbie's music succeeds in combining many disparate parts into an organic whole. It incorporates his musical experiences from Mozambique, the U.S., and many other places around the world, combining rhythmic patterns and musical concepts to create a unique "Moz-jazz" sound.
His original composition "Mozambique Dance" was released by Jazz Revelation Records, a student-run record label at Berklee, in 2011. He recorded another original, "Awusiwana," for the Berklee 2012 Summer in the City disc. His debut album, also called Mozambique Dance, will be released soon.
Mbie is an active musician, and has performed in several countries, including Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Italy, the U.S., and Mexico. He has also produced and recorded various projects in Mozambique and in the United States. He graduated from Berklee in 2012 with a dual degree in performance and music production and engineering, and a minor in acoustics.
Venezuelan musician and guitar player Luis D’Elias got into music at age 14 when, for the first time after mandatory music lessons, a teacher motivated him to develop his musical skills. At that moment, he began studies at the Olga Lopez Conservatory, where he took two years of classical training in different areas such as piano, guitar, and choir. Later, he participated in the 2004 Berklee Summer Performance Program, which got him into jazz theory and contemporary music.
Afterward, D'Elias enrolled at the Taller de Jazz Caracas, founded by renowned bass player Oscar Fanega, where he began developing his skills in different areas of jazz under the guidance of musicians like Pedro Barboza, Luca Vincenzetti, and Hugo Fuguet, each very well known within the Venezuelan music scene.
At the same time, he was undertaking studies in electronic engineering at the prestigious Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela, from which he received a bachelor’s degree with honors in 2011. Right after that, he applied to Berklee College of Music for full-time studies. He obtained a partial scholarship and is now pursuing a double diploma in film scoring and electronic production and design.
As a composer, he has already scored 10 student short films, most recently a full-length documentary titled El Camino de La Voluntad. He also has experience with video game scoring and creating underscores for different types of visual media. As a performer, he has shared the stage with Venezuelan artists like Francisco Vielma, Diego Maldonado, and Fabio Rojas. In addition, he has experience as a pit musician for different musical theater productions.
D'Elias has also been the bandleader of Venezuelan prog-rock band Systaltic and later of his own band, with whom he recorded his first demo as a solo jazz artist in 2010. Now he is working as an arranger for several musical theater productions at Berklee and leading a new band in order to showcase his own music, which is a blend of traditional Venezuelan influences mixed with contemporary jazz and rock. Currently, he is part of the roster for 2013’s Jazz Revelation Records' upcoming CD, Catalyst.
Born into a musical family in Barranquilla, Colombia, Esther Rojas started playing the violin at age 10, mainly focusing on a classical music repertoire. From 1995 to 1997, she continued her studies at the University of Cauca and the Antonio Maria Valencia Conservatory in Cali, Colombia, where she also performed with their youth symphony orchestras. In 2000, she switched her musical interest to electric and acoustic bass, entering the commercial arranging and composition and the jazz performance studies programs at the prestigious Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia. She has studied with Alain Caron, Oscar Stagnaro, and Luis Angel Pastor. Recently, she performed with Latin superstar Luis Enrique.
She is currently enrolled in the contemporary writing and production program at Berklee College of Music. Rojas’s style is a combination of the influences of Colombian traditional music, R&B, pop, salsa, Cuban timba, Brazilian music, and jazz. She is a very creative and solid player with a strong focus on the groove.
For this performance, she will feature the great Colombian singer Maria Mulata, 2008 winner of the world-renowned Viña del Mar Festival in Chile. Rojas and Mulata have been working together for the past four years. Their work includes performances at the most important festivals in Colombia and concerts in Asia and the United States. Rojas has also collaborated on Maria Mulata's most recent album, Cantos y Vuelos, which was released in 2013.