Berklee, NPR, and WBGO Partner for Inaugural Jazz Series

Liz Burg
October 27, 2011
Trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah graduated from Berklee in 2006.
Saxophonist Seamus Blake graduated from Berklee in 1992.
Photo by Derek Conrad Murray
Photo Juan-Carlos Hernandez

Famed New York area jazz station WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM/, NPR, and Berklee College of Music are teaming up to present the first ever NPR concert series showcasing Berklee alumni. The Checkout - Live at Berklee brings critically acclaimed, New York–based Berklee alumni back to Boston for a series of homecoming concerts at Berklee's Cafe 939. The concerts are broadcast live worldwide over and in New York over WBGO as a special edition of The Checkout, the acclaimed multimedia show featuring what's new on the New York jazz scene. The shows are also edited into podcasts available at

The Checkout - Live at Berklee debuted with trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah ('06) on November 17 followed by tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake ('92) on December 7. Leala Cyr and Ricardo Vogt with Leo Genovese, Rafael Barata, and Ben Street perform on February 9; the Kendrick Scott Oracle with Kendrick Scott, Taylor Eigsti, Mike Moreno, John Ellis, and Joshua Crumbly on March 8; and Ingrid Jensen with Lage Lund, Gary Versace, Matt Clohesy, and Jon Wikan on April 12. Concerts and broadcasts begin at 8:00 p.m. ET. Tickets to the live performances at Cafe 939 are $10 for the general public and $5 with a Berklee ID. Tickets are available at

"Since we debuted The Checkout on WBGO in 2009, we've produced shows featuring dozens of Berklee alumni; in a city of great musicians, you simply can't help it," said Josh Jackson, host and producer of The Checkout. "The Checkout - Live at Berklee shows give us a chance to see and hear New York-based musicians with Berklee roots before a "homecoming" audience in this great little venue, the Red Room @ Cafe 939. We're expecting to catch some lightning in this bottle."

Edison Prize-winning and Grammy-nominated trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is widely considered to be one of the leading jazz artists of his generation. Raised in New Orleans, Scott aTunde Adjuah toured from his early teens in his uncle, Donald Harrison Jr.'s, band. After graduation from Berklee in 2006, where he completed two degrees in just two years, Scott aTunde Adjuah signed with Concord Records. His first effort for the label, Rewind That, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Three subsequent releases have each garnered critical acclaim, including 2010's Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, recorded at the legendary Van Gelder Studio.

New York-based tenor saxophonist and composer Seamus Blake is widely recognized as one of the finest exponents of contemporary jazz. Born in England and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Blake is a Berklee graduate. In 2002, he took the first prize in the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. His recent album, Live in Italy, described as "one of the elute albums of the year," earned a 4.5/5 stars rating in DownBeat. A longstanding member of the acclaimed Mingus Big Bands, he continues to work with this group and a host of others. John Scofield, in whose Quiet Band Blake appears, has called him, "extraordinary, a total saxophonist."

Leala Cyr and Ricardo Vogt, a duo since 2002, blend picturesque vocals and sensual guitar to create a unique collaboration of music. Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Cyr discovered jazz singing after already excelling in classical trumpet at a young age. Cyr was featured as a trumpet and vocal soloist at the prestigious Essentially Ellington Competition at the Lincoln Center in New York before attending the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay where she met Vogt. Vogt hails from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where he was recognized for an original composition he wrote at age nine. While attending the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, Cyr and Vogt began arranging together and transferred to Berklee. Since their debut as a duo, Cyr was named Best Jazz Vocalist in DownBeat magazine's Student Music Awards in 2005 and performed on Esperanza Spalding's album Chamber Music Society. Vogt endorses Godin Guitars and joined the Eliane Elias Quartet and the Esperanza Spalding Quartet. Together, the two have traveled widely to conduct clinics and master classes and have performed live with renowned artists such as Milton Nascimento and Esperanza Spalding.

Drummer Kendrick Scott has been featured in Terence Blanchard's band for the last six years and has appeared on the Grammy Award-winning and nominated recordings, A Tale of God's Will and Flow, on which he contributed original compositions and orchestrations. Since 2003, Scott has appeared on more than 30 records and on soundtracks to seven feature films. In 2007, Scott launched his own label, World Culture Music, and began his career as a solo artist with his group Kendrick Scott Oracle. Scott plans to release Conviction, an album demonstrative of Scott's strength not only as a drummer but also as a composer and leader, this spring.

Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen is a regular voice in the Grammy Award–winning Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra and the Grammy-nominated Darcy James Argue Secret Society big band and recently performed on the newly Grammy-nominated album Mosaic Project, led by Terri Lyne Carrington. Jensen's trumpet has taken her all over the world as both a leader and sideperson, as well as an educator and guest artist at prestigious colleges and universities. Jensen hails from Canada's west coast and has settled in New York with her family. She brings to Cafe 939 and WBGO her longstanding trio from her highly regarded ArtisShare release, At Sea.

WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM serves the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area with mainstream jazz, blues, and award-winning news and public affairs programming. Non-commercial WBGO is supported by nearly 17,000 annual members and has over 400,000 weekly broadcast listeners. WBGO also streams its broadcast signal to audiences worldwide at WBGO was named the Jazz Station of the Year by the Gavin Report and is also the recipient of the Blues Foundation's Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Achievement in Non-Commercial Radio. WBGO is a publicly-supported, cultural institution that champions jazz, an American art form, and presents news to a worldwide audience through radio, other technologies, and events.

NPR Music celebrates great music in every genre and is an industry leader in music discovery. The free, multimedia website ( offers 300 new features monthly and an extensive archive, in collaboration with NPR's newsmagazines, 12 public radio member stations, and the passionate NPR community. NPR Music creates and distributes inventive music coverage across multiple platforms—from web, to radio, to podcast, to mobile, to social media, to live events—with first listens of new albums, live performances, concerts at the Tiny Desk, interviews, reviews, and blogs.