Next Jazz Legacy Seeks Applicants

(Photo: Courtesy Next Jazz Legacy)

New Music USA and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice have launched Next Jazz Legacy, a program focused on delivering more opportunities for women and non-binary improvising musicians.

The program seeks to ebb the tide of underrepresentation present on today’s jazz scene. Next Jazz Legacy will address this by supporting artists early in their careers whose access to resources has been limited. The group plans to offer creative and professional experience through long-term apprenticeships, financial support and promotion, thanks to funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. With this backing, program will offer a major investment in 20 artists and band leaders over the next three years.

The reason for the effort is clear, according to organizers. For example, in a study of the NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, women made up only 16% of the core band personnel for the albums in the 2019 poll, and the majority of jazz albums ranked included no women musicians at all.

Next Jazz Legacy is seeking candidates now for the inaugural class. Those interested can apply HERE through Nov. 29.

Six candidates will be selected this year by a panel of musicians chaired by drummer, composer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington. Candidates must be U.S. residents, fully vaccinated and not enrolled in an academic institution during the duration of the program or contracted with a third party recording company. Selected artists will be announced in January 2022.

“Next Jazz Legacy amplifies and addresses the need for all musicians, practitioners and professionals in jazz to contribute to a more equitable jazz future,” said Carrington, the founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “The people that have benefited the most from long established systems of oppression in our field are precisely the ones that need to help with addressing the problem. Otherwise, they are modeling, and at times even teaching, how to replicate those systems.”

“Over 50% of New Music USA’s annual grant funds go to women and non-binary artists,” said Vanessa Reed, president and CEO of New Music USA. “However, we know that some of the inequities in our community can’t be resolved with grant funding alone. Next Jazz Legacy addresses this by providing experience on the road, promotion and opportunities for participants to learn and grow with other artists at similar stages in their career.” DB

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