L.A. Newsbriefs

  From the left: David Cowan '90, Neara Russell '10, and Meg Todd '09
  From the left: Ray Frisby '79, Karen Childs '77, and Roger Bellon '75


The year 2010 ended on a high note for California-based alumni with two well-attended holiday parties. The Los Angeles event is something of a tradition at Rive Gauche Café in Sherman Oaks (see photos above). The holiday gathering continues to attract an impressive blend of alumni from a range of graduating classes that span as far back as the 1960s. And this year's successful end-of-year party at Coda in San Francisco was also well attended.

On January 16, the 2011 alumni calendar began with the traditional Alumni Brunch at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica. This year, nearly 400 turned out. Pianist Paris Strother '08 set the tone with her distinctive solo jazz style. The brunch has become a signature event in the SoCal alumni community and is always a great way to start the new year.

Mark your calendars for a special event-"WesFest 6: A Concert to Benefit the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship"-at the Roxy Theatre on February 27. This is the sixth annual fundraising concert to pay tribute to 1992 Berklee alumnus Wes Wehmiller, a highly accomplished bassist, athlete, and photographer who died of thyroid cancer in January 2005. This year's headliner is international jazz-fusion supergroup PSP, which will make its Southern California debut performance.

The gifted trio includes drummer Simon Phillips, keyboardist Philippe Saisse '78, and bassist Pino Palladino. Over the past several decades, they have collectively performed with the crème de la crème of contemporary pop music, including the Rolling Stones, the Who, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Toto, David Bowie, John Mayer '96, Chaka Khan, and Paul Simon. They first joined forces onstage for a series of dates at Billboard Live in Japan, the results of which are featured on the group's debut CD, PSP LIVE, released by C.A.R.E. Music Group in 2009. This year's WesFest lineup has even greater significance because Palladino was Wehmiller's favorite bassist.

The Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship is awarded annually to a continuing student at Berklee who best exemplifies the excellence and grace Wehmiller showed as a bassist and as a human being. To date, the concert series has raised more than $60,000 for the fund. For event details and ticket information, e-mail pgordon@berklee.edu.

Berklee's traditional strong showing among Grammy honorees continues this year, with 24 alumni and faculty having garnered 27 nominations. Good luck to all on February 13. To date, Berklee alumni have won a total of 192 GRAMMY Awards, and this year the number could well top the 200 mark.

In November the 2010 Hollywood Music in Media Awards were announced. Kudos to composer Ramin Djawadi '98, who won in the Best Original Score: Video Game category for Medal of Honor. Congratulations also go to nominees Mike Reagan '98, who was a member of the team that scored Sony's video game God of War III; Shawn Clement '88, who scored the Indie film Finale; and Howard Shore '68, who scored the feature film The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

On the performance front, the 6th Annual Filipino-American Jazz & World Music Festival took place in Los Angeles in early December. Abe Lagrimas Jr. '05 was a featured headliner, performing on drums, ukulele, and vibraphone.

That's all for now. Stay in touch,

Peter Gordon '78
Director of Berklee Center in LA


San Francisco alumni holiday party

The San Francisco alumni holiday party, which was held December 8 at the jazz-supper club Coda, attracted an enthusiastic crowd, despite a rainy evening. A trio featuring Scott Amendola '90 (drums), Ben Flint '85 (Hammond B3), and Chris Lopes '92 (bass), treated the crowd to some tasty jazz and gave the event a distinctive Berklee holiday flavor.

Herman Lara '96 (left) and Jon Hammond '74   Laurie Cohen '75 (left) and Mari Tochiya '02
David Erdelyi    
Zack Ferris '95 (left) and Peter Gordon '78   Theresa Perez '04 and Omar Ledezma