Berklee Label's Common Ground

Nick Balkin
April 22, 2008
Manami Morita
Carmen Spada
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

Berklee's student run label, Jazz Revelation Records, will celebrate the release of its new album, Common Ground, Wednesday, April 30, at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert will feature six of Jazz Revelation's most exciting student bands, including Alejandro Carrasco, Pat Carroll, Yuki Ito, Jani Moder, Manami Morita, and Carmen Spada. Tickets are $10.00/$5.00 for seniors, and are on sale now at the Performance Center box office, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. For more information, call 617 747-2261, or visit The Berklee Performance Center is wheelchair accessible.

"On this record, we present artists from entirely different backgrounds, cultures, and countries. A bass player from Korea plays blues influenced jazz with a guitarist from Slovenia. A Japanese piano player swings a gospel piece with her American compatriots. A Frenchman gets low down on some swampy New Orleans funk. This is a universal voice," says Kevin McCluskey, faculty advisor, Jazz Revelation Records.

Common Ground—the label's fifth compilation CD in as many years—features student bandleaders from Canada, France, Japan, Russia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, and the United States, and influences ranging from flamenco and avant-garde to the deep South and everything in-between. Producing the CD is an education in itself for the label's staff. Working with a strict budget, they are responsible for selecting the artists (the label received more than 50 submissions), booking studio time, recording the tracks, promoting the album, and designing its artwork. The artists, in turn, receive a free professional-grade recording and invaluable production experience, preparing them for life after Berklee. Common Ground is $10.00, and will be available at the BPC, April 30, as well as at Newbury Comics, iTunes, and All proceeds will be poured back into maintaining the label.

Faculty advisor Kevin McCluskey talks about his students at the recording sessions.

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About the artists on Common Ground

Edouard Brenneisen, of Paris, France, considers himself equally a guitarist and a composer. With a strong background in classical and jazz, having studied both in Paris, he is now on scholarship at Berklee, where he has honed a unique sound that blends European and American jazz aesthetics. Brenneisen has studied with Dave Liebman, Lionel Loueke, Tim Miller, and Jean-Michel Pilc.

Alejandro Carrasco, a pianist from Valencia, Spain, started learning the flamenco style from his father at 4. After 12 years of classical piano, Carrasco's interests shifted decisively to jazz when he studied with Spanish musicians Chano Dominguez and Jon Urrutia, and attended seminars taught by Michel Camilo, Jerry Gonzalez, and Claudio Roditi. This led him to enroll at L'AULA de Música Moderna i Jazz - Conservatori Liceu, and then at Berklee's Boston campus for full-time study in 2007. Carrasco has played several music festivals in Spain with his flamenco-jazz group Jazz and Claps.

Pat Carroll, a saxophonist from Pleasanton, California, has been focused on music since age 12, when he began studying with noted San Francisco musician Dann Zinn. In his junior year of high school, Carroll was awarded the Jimmy Lion's scholarship at the 2004 Monterey Jazz Festival. In 2005, he was commissioned to write and perform original music as a member of the SFJAZZ Young Composers Project, a group that rehearsed with the likes of Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Maria Schneider, and Miguel Zenon. Currently in his final year at Berklee, Carroll has studied with Hal Crook, Joe Lovano, and Ralph Peterson.

Hyunwoo Han, of Seoul, South Korea, started playing bass in 1998 at the Seoul Jazz Academy. Two short years later, he was hired as a faculty member at the academy, while also working as an assistant professor at Yeojoo College. In 2006, he came to Berklee on scholarship, where he has studied with the likes of Terri Lyne Carrington, Hal Crook, George Garzone, Greg Hopkins, John Lockwood, and Phil Wilson. Han has released two albums with his Korean jazz fusion band, and is the published author of the instructional book Fingerboard Harmony for Bassists (Seoul Music Communication, 2005).

Cedric Hanroit, a pianist, composer, and arranger from Paris, France, would generally be considered a latecomer to the world of music. After earning his master's degree in electronics at 21, his life took an unexpected turn as he sat at the piano for the first time. Since this moment, he has devoted most of his waking hours to music, surrendering to his overwhelming love for jazz. Hanroit's awards and honors include the French-American Fulbright Grant; the Sacem great prize; the Spedidam great prize; band and soloist prizes at the St Germain Jazz Festival, in Paris; and the band prize at the Enghien Les Bains Jazz Festival.

Yuki Ito, from Sapporo, Japan, first started playing the acoustic bass at 12. In 2004, as a member of the Jazz Month in Asahikawa Junior Jazz Orchestra, she performed at the International Association of Jazz Education conference. Ito was awarded the Lawrence and Alma Berk Scholarship to attend Berklee, where she currently studies with faculty JoAnne Brackeen, Hal Crook, Bruce Gertz, Greg Hopkins, and David Santoro.

Evgeny Lebedev, from Moscow, Russia, grew up listening to Russian folk music with his family, which inspired him to take up the accordion at 8. Driven by his strong interest in jazz, at 15 he switched his main focus to the piano. Levedev went on to attend Moscow College of Arts, and Gnessins' Russian Academy of Music, where he studied with internationally acclaimed jazz pianist Igor Bril. In 2004, he entered Berklee College of Music on scholarship, where he has performed with such top-tier musicians as Dave Fiuczynski, Marcus Miller, and David Sanchez . In 2007, he released his debut CD, Fall.

Jani Moder was born in Malaysia, though he moved to Slovenia at 3, where he spent most of his life. He played classical guitar for 12 years before enrolling at Austria's Kärntner Landeskonservatorium to study jazz. Moder's jazz training helped him secure a spot in Slovenia's national radio big band, a group of which he is still a part-time member. Moder is currently on scholarship at Berklee, where he has studied with Mick Goodrich, David Gilmore, Joe Lovano, Dave Samuels, and others.

Manami Morita, a native of Saitama, Japan, started playing classical piano at age 4. At the time, she hated piano lessons because she wasn't attracted to classical piano. She loved to play but wanted more musical freedom. At 13, Morita discovered jazz and became addicted, even learning improvisation on her own. In 2004, Morita put aside thoughts of becoming a flight attendant or English teacher to follow her dream of playing jazz, when she received a scholarship to study at Berklee. She was recently awarded the Mary Jane Earnhart Endowed Scholarship.

Carmen Spada, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, started playing piano at the age of 7, but didn't discover jazz until singing with a vocal jazz ensemble in high school. After one year of studies at the Humber College Community Music School, in Toronto, Carmen was accepted at Berklee College of Music in September, 2003, and declared majors in piano performance and jazz composition. At Berklee, Carmen studied with Frank Carlberg, Hal Crook, Scott Free, Greg Hopkins, Joe Lovano, and Danilo Perez. He was a recipient of the 2007 Herb Pomeroy Award in Jazz Composition and had his music performed in the Best Of Jazz Composition 1 concert, the Jazz Co-Operative Big Band concert, as well as various small ensemble recitals. In November, 2007, Carmen was chosen to participate and have his music critiqued in a master class by visiting composer Maria Schneider.

Jazz Revelation Records, Berklee's student-run jazz record label, was formed in the spring of 2003. Under previous management, Jazz Revelation Records successfully released the compilation CDs Rebirth, Two, and Ars Nova. Under the direction of current president, Michael Borgida, the label released The New Old School, in 2007, and Common Ground, in 2008. For the new CD, the label gathered 10 passionate and committed artists from around the world-Canada, France, Japan, Russia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, and the United States-all speaking the traditional language of jazz in a new way. This summer, the label will present its fourth annual Kendall Square Concert Series and second collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary Art: Harborwalk Sounds: Berklee at the ICA. Both are weekly showcases of the label's artists. For more information on Jazz Revelation Records, visit