Berklee and JEN name Jazz Educator of the Year

Rob Hayes
December 16, 2010
Caleb Chapman, 2011 John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year

On Saturday, January 8, at the 2nd Annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in New Orleans, the John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award will be presented to noted educator Caleb Chapman by Berklee College of Music president Roger Brown and JEN president Lou Fischer. The ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m. in the Roosevelt Hotel Ballroom

Cosponsored by Berklee College of Music and JEN, the John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award was created to recognize an outstanding international high school educator with five or more years' classroom experience who represents the highest standards of teaching, and whose results in the classroom have brought distinction to their institution and students. The acknowledgement includes a $2,500 honorarium, an online course from, a package of music for the recipient's school music program, and a visit to the recipient's school by a Berklee clinician. In addition, all expenses associated with attending the JEN Conference will be paid.

The award is named in memory of jazz education pioneer John LaPorta, who stepped away from a career that included stints playing alto saxophone and clarinet with Woody Herman, Charles Mingus, and Lennie Tristano in order to teach at Berklee. Passionate, opinionated, witty, an uncompromising artist, and an inspiring teacher, LaPorta revolutionized jazz education. He spent more than 30 years at Berklee, becoming one of the college's—and jazz education's—most respected and influential teachers. Thanks to his innovative approach to jazz education, the college was able to open its doors to students at all levels of ability and training.

"By presenting an annual award which recognizes excellence in the classroom, JEN and Berklee highlight teaching standards which others can emulate, as well as honor those educators who have shown a unique commitment to jazz education and have made a profound difference in their students' lives," said Fischer.

"John LaPorta was one of the founding fathers in the jazz education field and a cornerstone of the modern Berklee," said Brown. "A virtuoso musician who played with Parker, Mingus, Tristano, even Stravinsky, John got his real kick out of guiding young musicians, whatever their level, helping them play together, and get better. Passing on knowledge, in this case, the central tenets of music, is a sacred trust. John is the ideal educator to name this honor for, and Caleb Chapman is a worthy and truly deserving recipient."

Caleb Chapman's accomplishments have marked him as a rising star in jazz education, both domestically and internationally. As the president of Caleb Chapman Music, he directs over 150 of Utah's most talented young musicians in six elite ensembles, including the Crescent Super Band, frequently hailed as one of the best youth big bands in the world.  

Chapman's bands have been featured at many of the world's most prestigious jazz festivals, including North Sea, Montreux, Vienne, Umbria, and Tuscany. His groups have also performed with nearly 200 guest artists, including Toshiko Akiyoshi, Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, Peter Erskine, Kurt Elling, Stefon Harris, Nicholas Payton, Wycliffe Gordon, Jane Monheit, Ernie Watts, and many others. Additionally, his bands have been featured on the Sirius XM Real Jazz channel and have produced eight full-length albums on the Big Swing Face record label.

Chapman's students have been honored with four DownBeat Awards, including Best Performing Arts High School Big Band in 2007 and 2010. The band has also won five consecutive Best of State awards in Utah and the prestigious Best of State Statue Award, identifying the program as the top organization in arts and entertainment in Utah.

Previous to his current position, Chapman founded the Music School in 1999 and created an innovative approach to music education which has helped to produce many of the nation's most desirable young musicians.  In 2006, he secured the Music School's affiliation with the Juilliard School, making the school the only one in the country to enjoy this designation. He has also established unique relationships with Berklee College of Music and most of Utah's top music organizations, including Keith Lockhart and the Utah Symphony.

Chapman is an education expert for the newly formed Jazz Education Network (JEN), as well as a past president of the Utah Unit of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). He is also a featured clinician and sponsored performer for Yamaha Saxophones and Rico Reeds.