L.A. Newsbriefs

  David Grossman '79
  From the left: Cliff Brodsky '87 and President Roger Brown
  Bob Malone '87
  Justine Taormino '06
  Mike Magee
  Kauai Jazz Fest Features Top Student Group
  The Hailey Niswanger Quartet. From the left: Takeshi Ohbayashi, Aaron Darrell, Mark Whitfield Jr., and Hailey Niswanger appeared at the Red Clay Jazz Festival June 25.
  Stephen Webber
  The fourth annual Kauai Red Clay Jazz Festival held in Kauai, Hawaii, in late June showcased a distinct Berklee flavor with the appearance of the Hailey Niswanger Quartet. The group comprises four of Berklee's finest students: Hailey Niswanger, on alto and soprano saxophones, Takeshi Ohbayashi on piano, Aaron Darrell on acoustic bass, and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. After playing an outstanding set, the group received a rousing response from the festival audience. The event's headliner, jazz flute legend Hubert Laws, also gave the group a rave review.

After graduating from Berklee with a composition degree, David Grossman '79 began his career in Los Angeles as a drummer and percussionist on the freelance circuit.

Since then his path has featured some impressive achievements. After transitioning into the business side of the television industry, Grossman became the senior vice president for music at Paramount Pictures, a position he held for 17 years. He then worked as the executive vice president of the Recording Academy, where he was at the center of the Grammy world. Recently, he began an exciting new chapter when he was appointed as the executive director of the Santa Barbara Symphony. Grossman also serves as the secretary of the nonprofit Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, which promotes music education in underfunded schools.

Bob Malone '87 has built an impressive touring schedule averaging 100 shows a year, headlining across the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia. His unique blend of blues, rock, soul, and jazz piano styles found a new home recently when he signed on as the keyboard player for rock legend John Fogerty. One of Malone's first gigs with the former Creedence Clearwater Revival front man was a festival appearance in Russia before an audience of 100,000.

President Roger H. Brown and MP&E Professor Stephen Webber were on hand with Cliff Brodsky '87 for the official announcement of the Cliff Brodsky Endowed Scholarship Fund during a concert to celebrate the opening of Brodsky Entertainment's new recording studio in Meriden, NH, in June. Producer and keyboardist Brodsky is a former Los Angeles resident who performed a set with his band of musical collaborators from the East and West coasts. The concert also featured sets by Berklee student songwriters Emily Elbert '11 and Julie Easterlin '11. Elbert and Easterlin exemplify the kinds of students who will benefit from the new scholarship, which assists students demonstrating excellence as songwriters. The Brodsky scholarship was established in partnership with the Neda Nobari Foundation.

Movie director Camilo Vila premiered his new film The City of Gardens at this year's Cannes International Film Festival. It features a score by composer Roger Bellon '75, who has collaborated on three films with Vila. Bellon has also composed the musical score to the theatrical play A Death in Colombia, which opened June 18 in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hills Playhouse Skylight Theatre. This is Bellon's fourth theatrical score for writer Shem Bitterman and director Steve Zuckerman.

In the world of performance, guitarist Steve Fekete '96 and multi-instrumentalist Jim McGorman '95 are on tour with Avril Lavigne this summer. Drummer Nate Laguzza '08 and keyboardist and singer Neara Russell '10 are touring with Sony artist BC Jean. L.A. trio KING, featuring Paris Strother '08 on keys and vocals, opened the final show of Prince's Welcome 2 America Tour, which culminated in a 21-night concert residency at the LA Forum. Each night during the series, Prince featured a different opening act, and KING joined a roster that included Esperanza Spalding '05, Chaka Khan, Carlos Santana, Cee Lo Green, and Janelle Monáe.

I'm also pleased to announce that Justine Taormino '06, who has served as the intern services coordinator for Berklee's L.A. Internship Program, has been promoted to a new position. Taormino will function as the West Coast alumni regional representative working from the Berklee Center in Los Angeles. She will be the liaison between the Alumni Affairs Office on the Boston campus and Berklee alumni living in or planning to relocate to Los Angeles. Don't hesitate to reach out to her at jtaormino@berklee.edu.

That's all for now. Stay in touch.

Peter Gordon '78
Director of Berklee Center in LA