Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Juana Aquerreta grew up surrounded by music. Her first steps came along with the guitar and the singing of traditional Argentinean folk. From a very young age she admired and absorbed the South American sounds, and this is what her original compositions and songs present: a musical journey that blends her roots with more contemporary styles and instruments.
Born in Portland, Oregon, Grant Richards has been around music since he was very young. He began playing piano and composing at age 8 and by the time he entered college, he had won four awards from DownBeat magazine and recorded his first album as a leader. In 2009, Richards enrolled in Berklee College of Music, where he received the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship, a distinction awarded each year to one music student in recognition of his or her outstanding talent. In his short career, Richards has performed with many renowned artists including Esperanza Spalding, Chuck Israels, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Liebman, Ben Wolfe, Damian Erskine, Greg Hopkins, John Lockwood, and Filo Machado. Now, at age 22, he is a formidable pianist, composer, and teacher in his own right, remaining active in the Boston music scene through performing and recording as a leader and sideman.
With his new quintet, guitarist Eduardo Mercuri explores his personal approach to modern Brazilian music. Alongside Gustavo D’Amico on saxophone, Paul Sanchez on trumpet, Do-Young Kim on bass, and Juan Alejandro Saenz on drums, Mercuri mixes jazz textures with contemporary Brazilian music, bringing a new and fresh sound to both genres. Regardless of its short existence, the group is already signed with Berklee’s Jazz Revelation Records and has performed at the Berklee Performance Center and other venues around the Boston area.
Born in 1990, Daniel Rotem was accepted into the Thelma Yellin High School for Arts in Tel Aviv, Israel. As a member of Thelma Yellin’s Big Band, he performed at two international events: the IAJE Annual Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the SAJE in Capetown, South Africa. He was also awarded an honors scholarship for 2007–2008 at the Shtricker Conservatory in Tel Aviv and a scholarship for the Berklee Summer Performance Program in July–August 2008 in Boston. He graduated with honors from Thelma Yellin’s Jazz Program in 2008. In 2009 the Berklee College of Music World Tour arrived in Israel, and after attending auditions, he was awarded a full scholarship.
During 2009–2010, Rotem studied at Israel’s Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he was awarded a scholarship and had the chance to develop his performance and improvisation skills as well as his composing and arranging abilities. In the summer of 2009 Daniel participated in the Siena Jazz Workshops, held in Siena, Italy. He had the opportunity to play and study with Lionel Loueke, George Garzone, Scott Colley, John Taylor, and Michael Blake. Upon completing the workshops, he was offered a full scholarship to return for the 2010 program, where he met some of his former teachers but also played and performed with Kenny Werner, Peter Bernstein, Eric Harland, Joel Frahm and Jeremy Pelt.
In January 2010, he had the privilege to meet and perform with saxophonist David Liebman. It was a special experience for him, especially due to the fact that a group tutored by Mr. Liebman performed one of his arrangements to one of Mr. Liebman’s compositions. The youngest student to reach the finals, he was awarded first place in Rimon’s Outstanding Jazz Player Competition and as a result represented Rimon at the 20th IASJ meeting in The Hague. There, he had the opportunity to play in an ensemble headed by Reggie Workman.
Rotem relocated to Boston in May 2011 and began full-time studies on a full scholarship at Berklee, working toward a Bachelor’s degree in jazz performance. He has performed at different Berklee venues with numerous ensembles, including the Rainbow Big band led by Phil Wilson; the Concert Jazz Band led by Greg Hopkins (with which he performed in a concert featuring the great drummer Peter Erskine and at the JEN conference in Kentucky in January 2012); and as a featured guest at a joint performance of India Arie and Israeli composer/singer Idan Raichel (he also played at concerts with the Idan Raichel Project in Israel in 2011). Other teachers he has studied and played with at Berklee include Bill Pierce, Hal Crook, George Garzone, Dave Santoro, Jim Odgren, Ed Tomassi, Tiger Okoshi, Shannon Le Claire, and Terri Lyne Carrington. He was also chosen as a finalist in the live auditions for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance Masters Program, held in Los Angeles in February 2012. In March, Rotem and his quartet recorded one of his original compositions, “Hill Workout,” for Berklee’s Jazz Revelation label release, Ripple Effect. The recording was also included on a promotion CD sold during the many Berklee summer events and performances.
Considering music a force connecting people and cultures, Rotem decided to serve as a peer advisor helping new students and as a student ambassador representing Berklee. He was awarded the America–Israel Foundation scholarship for 2010–2012.
Selina Elsie is an artist who uses all forms of art to promote positivity to the community. In 2011 she flew out to My Wild Horse Preserve in New Mexico, with a deep desire and commitment to making sure that part of life never dies. WIth a mission and destiny engrained in her soul, Elsie follows her passion and voice wherever it leads her. She plans to raise funds for a return trip to the preserve, to properly document the beauty of horses running free through the mountains. Elsie has been in and out of the studio recording her debut EP for the last few months, and is trying to coordinate the release with organizations whose morals are aligned with hers.
Balam Garcia is a composer, arranger, producer, bassist, and guitarist from Los Angeles. He has worked with many different artists and musicians including Herbie Hancock, Seidah Garrett, Patti Austin and many more. He is currently producing his own music as well as the music of Byron Noemdoe. Balam fuses the sounds and rhythms of various styles, ranging from jazz and classical, to funk, R&B, and rock. The result is an eclectic blend of psychedelic vibrations dedicated to raising the collective consciousness of humankind to new levels of perception.
Berklee alumna and Austria native jazz singer Veronika Anna Morscher has returned to Boston to record her first EP of original music and to perform with her friends from Berklee. Veronika grew up in Lauterach, Austria, where she began to take saxophone, piano, and voice lessons around the age of 13. She attended various workshops and entered jazz competitions throughout Europe. After graduating from high school, she moved to Boston to pursue a degree in professional music at Berklee College of Music. After graduating from Berklee, she moved back to Vienna to start her master’s degree in vocal performance at the Konservatorium Wien.
Marianella Rojas has been singing since the age of 9. As the years went by, she studied and was influenced by the talent of such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Christina Aguilera, and Ray Charles.
In 2008, Rojas participated in Latin American Idol. She has also worked as a background singer for some Venezuelan singers such as Diveana, Oscarcito, Victor Drija, Manuel Rivas and Edmundo Benavides, which gave her the opportunity to share the stage with artists like Shakira and Train.
Rojas is a student at Berklee College of Music where she is studying performance and music business.
Possessing an enormous talent and a remarkably fertile musical imagination, Moira Lo Bianco is a bona fide triple threat as a composer, arranger, and pianist. Mature beyond her young years, she has an intense personal musical vision and all of the tools to consistently bring it to life. Her ability to transcend genre and category is organic and seemingly effortless.
Juan Pérez Rodríguez learned to sing and play guitar with his father, the flamenco musician, singer, and composer Juan Pérez “Sombra.” Later he studied at the Classical Conservatory of Huelva, and at nine years old started to play piano.
He studied baroque organ as well, learning to play and improvise in old polyphonic style, with well-known organ players Andrés Cea, Jean Claude Zenhder, and Michael Bouvard. He studied classical music with Alexia Guiomar, Roland Proell, Maria Ramblados, and Rocío Vílchez. At the same time, he played modern music, including jazz and flamenco, taking lessons from Chano Dominguez, Rubem Dantas, Jorge Pardo, Albert Bover, Steve Kuhn, and Niño Miguel.
He founded the band Cuarta Dimension, blending composition and free improvisation with classical and jazz musicians in Sevilla, Spain, and playing concerts in Andalucia, Spain, in 2007. He also formed his band, Juan Pérez Trio, with Pablo Báez on double bass and Nacho Mejina on drums. In 2007, he had the opportunity to play piano, celesta, and organ with the Symphonic Orchestra Toscanini, conducted by Maestro Lorin Maazel. That same year, he was accepted to the Young Orchestra of Andalucia under the artistic direction of Michael Thomas (arranger of Bjork’s first album), and played an improvised concert with him.
In 2008, he moved to Paris to finish his classical studies at the conservatory, also performing in and around the city. He studied then with Nicolas Mallarte, Marie Paul Siruget, and Naji Hakim.
He recorded his first album, Fabulare, with the indie recording company Música Fundamental. The album blended jazz, flamenco, and classical music in a very personal way. Released in 2011, Fabulare received very good reviews.
He was awarded a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music, where he continues his education. During his time at Berklee, he cofounded Spain the Lighter, a fresh vision of flamenco/fusion music. This band was acclaimed during its short but intense life, and this project is still open for the future with very good prospects. He is preparing his second album, which will be released in a year and combines his studies at Berklee with performance.
Jake Sherman was playing music before he could tie his shoes. He began taking Suzuki piano lessons at age 5 but soon fell in love with ragtime, learning many Scott Joplin classics and even composing some original rags. It wasn’t until Sherman was 12 that he began studying jazz piano. He learned very quickly and was soon playing in ensembles. At 14, Jake discovered the Hammond organ. He received his first Hammond from the Brookline Music School and taught himself how to play it by listening to records and reading countless posts on Hammond organ listservs and websites.
Sherman has moved into the top tier of young musicians in the Boston and New York areas. He has appeared with Ralph Peterson, Gretchen Parlato, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, Casey Benjamin, Jamire Williams, and Dave Fiuczynski, among others. In addition to jazz, he has become passionate about a variety of other styles of music. He plays gospel organ every Sunday at Eliot Church in Roxbury and often performs with other up-and-coming artists such as Nick Hakim, Jesse Scheinin, Sid Sriram, and Margaret Glaspy. He recently released his first solo album, which is available via his website.