Hancock Institute Names Ambrose Akinmusire Artistic Director


​Akinmusire graduated from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance in 2007.

(Photo: Courtesy of Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance)

Ambrose Akinmusire has been named artistic director of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA. A 2007 graduate of the program, the trumpeter and composer will return to guide and encourage the next generation of jazz artists.

Six young jazz musicians from around the world were selected for the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA Class of 2025. Each will begin the intensive, full-scholarship program this September and receive a Master of Music in Jazz Performance degree from the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in spring 2025.

The Class of 2025 includes drummer Ebunoluwa Daramola of Assen, Netherlands and Lagos, Nigeria; bassist Destiny Diggs-Pinto of Newark, New Jersey; alto saxophonist Alden Hellmuth of Hartford, Connecticut; pianist Miles Lennox of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; tenor saxophonist Sasha Ripley of Houston, Texas; and Yakiv Tsvietinskyi of Dnipro, Ukraine. The musicians were selected through a rigorous application process culminating in an audition judged by Herbie Hancock, Herb Alpert, Akinmusire and Walter Smith III.

Akinmusire said, “Having been a student and later a judge, mentor and teacher in this program, I look forward to sharing my knowledge and continuing the legacy and impact of the Herbie Hancock Institute.”

Hancock added, “Ambrose is the perfect person to inspire the students of the Institute of Jazz Performance. I remember working with him when he was a student in the program, and watching him develop over the years has been really exciting. Now he will be able to cultivate a new wave of creative artists through his role in the program.”

In addition to being an Institute of Jazz Performance alumnus, Akinmusire won first place honors in the institute’s 2007 International Trumpet Competition. In his role as artistic director, he will follow in the footsteps of previous artistic directors Terence Blanchard and Ron Carter, both of whom who taught Akinmusire during his time in the program.

Launched in 1995, the Institute of Jazz Performance accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class and provides them with opportunities to study jazz and its defining element of improvisation with master musicians, composers and educators. All students receive full scholarships, along with stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. This enables them to be fully immersed in their education and development as artists. Throughout each academic year, jazz masters serve as artists-in-residence, teaching and performing with the students. In addition, the students receive composition instruction from Billy Childs and study improvisation with Jerry Bergonzi and Dick Oatts, two of the world’s top jazz improvisation experts.

The aspiring musicians study both individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching and lectures on the jazz tradition. They are also encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances. A music business and technology component helps prepare the students for their careers as professional musicians.

Under the mentorship of their acclaimed instructors, the college students, collectively known as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance Ensemble at UCLA, present high-profile concerts and lead jazz education and community outreach programs in Los Angeles, across the United States and around the world. In recent years, students have performed at International Jazz Day events in Istanbul, Turkey; Osaka, Japan; Paris, France; Havana, Cuba; St. Petersburg, Russia; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; and the White House. They also have participated in performance and education tours of Argentina, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Jordan, Morocco, Peru, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam with Hancock.

“The Institute is pleased to welcome Ambrose Akinmusire in this new role,” said institute President Tom Carter. “As a leader of his generation, he will be one of the artists that will be innovating this music for years to come. Under his direction, the incoming class of students will join our growing family of influential artists who are creative forces in the world of music, education and beyond.” DB

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