New England Conservatory Jazz Studies

Winter/Spring SeasonĀ 

By: - Jan 05, 2024

BOSTON—The Jazz Studies and Contemporary Musical Arts departments at New England Conservatory (NEC) launch dynamic Winter/Spring 2024 performance seasons promising enriching and diverse experiences while showcasing the range and innovation of students and faculty.

Jazz Studies highlights include a residency with new Jazz Studies co-chair Anna Webber on Thursday, February 8; a 125th birthday celebration for Duke Ellington with students and faculty including pianist Jason Moran on Thursday, February 1; a Max Roach centennial concert on Thursday, February 15; the NEC Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra with flutist and artist-in-residence Nicole Mitchell on Tuesday, March 12; and the NEC Jazz Orchestra in two concerts: music of Anna Webber and Angela Morris on Thursday, February 29 and music of Wayne Shorter with special guest Carl Atkins on Thursday, April 18. In addition, the NEC Jazz Orchestra, along with Ran Blake, Dominique Eade, and the Ken Schaphorst Big Band, goes off campus to perform at Cambridge's famed Regattabar Jazz Club on Monday, February 5.

The CMA department features a concert of music by David Bowie on Wednesday, April 17. Under the artistic direction of faculty member Lautaro Mantilla, the concert will explore iconic Bowie songs that were produced with Brian Eno. The immersive experience delves into Bowie's transformative influence on pop culture, musical styles, gender, sexuality, social justice, protest, and fashion. A celebration of Mahalia Jackson and Chris Connor, curated by CMA co-chair Hankus Netsky and Ran Blake, explores the music of two 20th-century titans of gospel and jazz on Wednesday, February 14. The event will explore the emotional depth of Jackson's soulful gospel in contrast to the cool jazz stylings embraced by Connor, creating a dynamic musical tapestry. On Sunday, May 5, a Small Ensembles Festival featuring a full day of music, food and dance showcases the breadth, depth and diversity of CMA ensembles.

Performances at NEC's Jordan Hall and events across campus are free and open to the public unless otherwise specified. Media are invited to cover performances, explore behind the scenes, and pursue other opportunities with permission.

2024 Winter/Spring Season Performances

Jazz & Contemporary Musical Arts Faculty Spotlight
Thu, January 25, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Jordan Hall

Faculty members from Jazz Studies and Contemporary Musical Arts present a wide-ranging program that highlights the breadth and depth of the departments.

Duke Ellington: My Heart Sings 
Thu, February 1, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theatre

As part of his residency, pianist Jason Moran and NEC student performers celebrate Duke Ellington’s 125th birthday with a range of music including solo piano performances, as well as music for large and small ensembles.

NEC Jazz Orchestra and Ken Schaphorst Big Band
Mon, February 5, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Regattabar Jazz Club, Cambridge, MA

The NEC Jazz Orchestra makes an off-campus appearance opening for the Ken Schaphorst Big Band, the 17-piece ensemble of acclaimed composer, performer and Jazz Studies Co-Chair Schaphorst. The performance kicks off the club’s new Big Band Mondays series with a program including George Russell's "Ezzthetic" and Jazz Department Co-Chair Ken Schaphorst's "Take Back the Country." Featuring founding CMA department chair Ran Blake on piano and Dominique Eade ’82, ’89 AD on voice, the Ken Schaphorst Big Band will also perform Blake's "Memphis" and Schaphorst's "Mbira." 

Anna Webber Residency Concert
Thu, February 8, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Jordan Hall

Saxophonist, flutist, and composer Anna Webber, whose interests and work live in the aesthetic overlap between avant-garde jazz and new classical music, has been widely heralded for her “visionary and captivating” music (Wall Street Journal). A Guggenheim Award-winning composer who was recently appointed NEC Jazz Studies Co-Chair, Webber has released numerous critically acclaimed albums. This concert is the culmination of her NEC residency, and Webber will perform with NEC students she has coached, as well as with her Simple Trio featuring pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer John Hollenbeck.

The Music of Chris Connor and Mahalia Jackson
Wed, February 14, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Jordan Hall

NEC's Contemporary Musical Arts department salutes two great voices of the 20th century, Chris Connor and Mahalia Jackson. This program is curated by CMA faculty members Hankus Netsky and Ran Blake.

The Music of Max Roach – Centennial Concert
Thu, February 15, 2024 | 8:00 pm | Burnes Hall

In this concert curated by NEC faculty member and drummer Nasheet Waits, the NEC Jazz department celebrates the centennial of American jazz drummer and composer Max Roach. A pioneer of bebop, he worked in many other styles of music, and is generally considered one of the most important drummers in jazz history. The concert will include a full performance of We Insist! The Freedom Now Suite.

NEC Jazz Orchestra: The Music of Anna Webber and Angela Morris
Thu, February 29, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Jordan Hall

In 2015, Anna Webber and Angela Morris brought together their arsenal of skills as composers-performers-conductors to form the Webber/Morris Big Band, an ensemble of eighteen stellar New York improvisers who bring their combined artistic vision into reality. Their debut album, Both Are True, was named as one of the top 10 jazz albums of 2020 by the New York Times. Their music, though scored for traditional jazz big band, is rooted in minimalism, noise, pop, and the sounds of today. Integrating improvisation and composed material in unorthodox ways and using extra-musical sources such as poetry or mathematics– here the traditional big band sound mutates into something unpredictable and exciting. In this concert at Jordan Hall, Webber and Morris will conduct the NEC Jazz Orchestra playing the repertoire of the Webber/Morris Big Band. Webber serves as Co-chair of NEC’s Jazz Studies Department along with Ken Schaphorst.

NEC Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra + Nicole Mitchell
Tue, March 12, 2024 | 7:30pm | Jordan Hall

Frank Carlberg and the NEC Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra perform with flutist and artist-in-residence, Nicole Mitchell. Nicole Mitchell is an award-winning creative flutist, composer, bandleader and educator. She is perhaps best known for her work as a flutist, having developed a unique improvisational language and having been repeatedly awarded “Top Flutist of the Year” by DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association (2010-2022).

NEC Contemporary Musical Arts: The Music of David Bowie
Wed, April 17, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Jordan Hall

For 50 years, David Bowie created a body of work that expanded the boundaries of pop culture, musical styles, gender, sexuality, social justice, protest, and fashion. In a unique way, Bowie’s music is shocking and yet very familiar, glamorous and yet tasteless, peaceful and yet dynamic and violent, joyful and yet horrific and confusing. In his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, David Byrne described David Bowie as “a shrink and a priest who welcomes us to a brave new world.”

By re-imagining the music of his collaboration with Producer Brian Eno (1977-1979), working on re-compositions of Bowie’s more iconic songs, and original compositions inspired by these bodies of work, the CMA Department will pay tribute to one of the most influential artists of our generation and will showcase this powerful legacy. This program is curated by NEC faculty member Lautaro Mantilla.

“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than a human. I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

NEC Jazz Orchestra + Carl Atkins: The Music of Wayne Shorter
Thur, April 18, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Jordan Hall

Special guest Carl Atkins (founding director of NEC’s Afro-American Studies and Jazz Department) and Ken Schaphorst lead the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a concert of the music of Wayne Shorter. Considered to be one of the world’s greatest composers and one of the greatest jazz saxophonists of all time, Wayne Shorter was a recipient of 11 Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, five honorary doctorate degrees, the Kennedy Center Honor, Polar Music Prize, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and many other awards and honors for his contributions to music. NEC alum Rachel Z ’84 will perform on the concert.

Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra
Tue, April 23, 2024 | 7:30 pm | Jordan Hall

NEC's Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra features the music of NEC students performed by their peers, under the direction of Frank Carlberg.

CMA Small Ensembles Festival
Sun, May 5, 2024 | 11 am | Eben Jordan Ensemble Room

Celebrate spring with a festival of Contemporary Musical Arts ensembles, featuring music, food, and dance all day long. The festival showcases the breadth, depth and diversity of CMA ensembles including Middle Eastern Music, R&B, Free Jazz, Mandé West African Music, Ceol (Irish) Music, the Magdalena Abrego and Anthony Coleman ensembles, Songwriters' Workshop, Contemporary Rock American Roots, and more.

About New England Conservatory (NEC)
Founded by Eben Tourjée in Boston, Massachusetts in 1867, the New England Conservatory (NEC) represents a new model of music school that combines the best of European tradition with American innovation. The school stands at the center of Boston’s rich cultural history and musical life, presenting concerts at the renowned Jordan Hall. Propelled by profound artistry, bold creativity and deep compassion, NEC seeks to amplify musicians’ impact on advancing our shared humanity, and empowers students to meet today’s changing world head-on, equipped with the tools and confidence to forge multidimensional lives of artistic depth and relevance.

As an independent, not-for-profit institution that educates and trains musicians of all ages from around the world, NEC is recognized internationally as a leader among music schools. It cultivates a diverse, dynamic community, providing music students of more than 40 countries with performance opportunities and high-caliber training from 225 internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC pushes the boundaries of music-making and teaching through college-level training in classical, jazz and contemporary improvisation. Through unique interdisciplinary programs such as Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Community Performances & Partnerships, it empowers students to create their own musical opportunities. As part of NEC’s mission to make lifelong music education available to everyone, the Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education delivers training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students and adults.