Berklee Today

Berklee Beat: Visiting Artists

Singer Nnenna Freelon
Photo by Toni Ballard

This spring, various departments in the college brought in a host of top artists from a wide range of musical disciplines. Starting in February, the annual Black History Month celebration brought in two widely acclaimed jazz artists. Pianist Monty Alexander gave a clinic and a performance with his own group. Grammy-nominated vocalist and songwriter Nnenna Freelon also gave an afternoon clinic and a performance in the BPC with her quartet.

For Guitar Week, the Guitar Department hosted a March 10 clinic and concert with top session guitarist and former Miles Davis sideman Hiram Bullock. Other guitarists giving clinics and performances included jazz guitarist Jack Wilkins, Stan Smith, and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Percussion Week events in April included a master class and concert featuring former "Tonight Show" band drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. Gary Chaffee and Steve Houghton also participated in Percussion Week events. Other guests of the department included Dave Mancini and Brazilian percussionist Alberto Netto.

The String Department brought in two fiddlers. Laura Risk, who specializes in Scottish, Irish, and Cape Breton styles, presented a clinic in April. Claude "Fiddler" Williams, who played with Charlie Parker and Lester Young in Kansas City, gave a jazz clinic. The department also hosted a March 9 workshop with harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy.

The Voice Department invited the the four-piece a cappella group the Bobs and jazz vocalist Kurt Elling for master classes.

Flutist Keith Underwood, who is as comfortable playing a concerto with a symphony orchestra as he is soloing with a jazz group, and saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman came to Berklee as guests of the Woodwind Department.

Duran Duran bassist Wes Wehmiller came to share his insights with Danny Morris's bass styles class in April. Carlos Del Puerto also stopped by to share his insights on playing bass in Latin music.

Empire Brass Quintet founder and renowned tuba soloist Sam Pilafian was a guest of the Brass Department. His clinic focused on efficient use of breath and breath control.

The Music Technology Division hosted a clinic with recording engineer Tony Prendatt, who held sessions in Berklee's Studio A. Bob Reardon, another department guest, came to give information sessions on using digital signal processing.

The Piano Department sponsored clinics with Rachel Z and Chuck Marohnic. Writers who visited in the spring included Mitch Coodley, who spoke about producing library music, Miguel Vercher Talens, who spoke about contemporary Spanish music, and award-winning jazz author Loren Schoenberg.