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The Debut Series Expanded: Mentorship, Marketing, and Musical Incubation

Building on the success of the Début Series by expanding it to encompass music business skills and mentorship opportunities.

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The Jazz Gallery Mentorship Series, Vol. 3, Ed. 3: Dayna Stephens & Paul Cornish

Posted on November 1, 2016 by The Jazz Gallery

Following on the heels of successful runs with pianist Aaron Parks and vibraphonist Joel Ross, as well as guitarist Miles Okazaki and pianist Paul Cornish, The Jazz Gallery kicks off its third and final edition of the 2016 Mentorship Series with a pair of multi-reedists—mentor Dayna Stephens and mentee Patrick Bartley.

Stephens (who is filling in for announced mentor Ambrose Akinmusire due to scheduling conflicts), is a longtime member of The Jazz Gallery family. He’s one of the hardest-working musicians in New York, always running several projects at once. While his last album, Peace (Sunnyside), featured a slate of classic jazz ballads and a top-flight rhythm section featuring pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Eric Harland, one of Stephens’s current active projects is a plugged-in trio called “3WI,”where Stephens explores the myriad possibilities of the EWI (Electric Wind Instrument). Stephens has sat down with The Jazz Gallery’s blog Jazz Speaks a number of times, so check out the interviews below to get a sense of Stephens’s musical approach.

September 2014

December 2015

April 2016

While most young jazz musicians today would profess to be into a wide variety of music, Patrick Bartley takes that commitment to musical omnivorism to a new level. Just this past month, Bartley released the debut album of his collaborative ensemble J-Music, a group of his peers from the Manhattan School of Music that explores Japanese pop music through improvisation. In addition, Bartley led a group that performed the music of Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer at the NYC Hot Jazz Festival. This past summer, he toured with Wynton Marsalis and the Young Stars of Jazz, showing how effortlessly Bartley can navigate varied styles and musical sub-communities in New York. And like Stephens, Bartley has taken to the EWI, even performing on it with Jon Batiste & Stay Human on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Over the course of four concerts, Stephens will mentor Bartley by exploring the possibilities afforded by different woodwind instruments, from saxophone to clarinet to EWI. They’ll play a number of compositions by Stephens, as well as some of Bartley’s, and like in Stephens’s own groups, will work with a rotating cast of top-notch rhythm section players, including bassist Ben Street and drummer Johnathan Blake. The concert schedule is as follows:

Thursday, November 3rd – 9 PM – SEEDS (617 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY)

Wednesday, November 16th – 7 PM – Shapeshifter Lab (18 Whitwell Pl, Brooklyn, NY)

Monday, November 21st – 7 PM –  The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (58 West 129th Street, Harlem, New York, NY)

Thursday, December 15th – 7:30 and 9:30 PM – The Jazz Gallery (1160 Broadway, New York, NY)

Visit us at http://jazzgallery.nyc for tickets and more information and stay tuned for interviews with both artists at http://www.jazzspeaks.org.

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The Jazz Gallery Mentorship Series , Vol. 3, Ed. 2: Miles Okazaki and Paul Cornish

Posted on May 31, 2016 by The Jazz Gallery

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This week, The Jazz Gallery kicks off the next edition of our Mentorship Series, featuring mentor-guitarist Miles Okazaki and pianist Paul Cornish. Okazaki has forged a unique path as a guitarist and composer, working with artists as diverse as soul jazz master Stanley Turrentine, creative jazz songbook vocalist Jane Monheit, and iconoclastic saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman. Okazaki has recorded three acclaimed albums under his own name and is set to release a fourth later this year.

Cornish hails from Houston, Texas and is an alumnus of the city’s prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (whose alumni list is a who’s who of top jazz musicians today). Cornish has just completed his second year at the University of Southern California and has been decorated with awards from ASCAP, Yamaha, and the Next Generation Jazz Festival. The upcoming performances with Okazaki will be Cornish’s New York debut.

Check out some of Cornish’s ambitious and wind-ranging work on his SoundCloud page before catching him and Okazaki this month in New York and Philadelphia. The pair will be performing music from Okazaki’s forthcoming album, along with bassist Anthony Tidd and drummer Sean Rickman.


Thursday, June 2nd – 7:30 & 9:30 PM – The Jazz Gallery  (1160 Broadway, New York, NY)

Thursday, June 9th – 9 PM – SEEDS (617 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn NY)

Wednesday, June 15th – 7 & 9 PM – SOUTH (600 North Broad St, Philadelphia, PA)

Thursday, June 23rd – 7 PM – The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (58 West 129th Street, Harlem, New York, NY)

Visit us at http://jazzgallery.nyc for tickets and more information.

Aaron Parks & Joel Ross at South in Philadelphia

Posted on May 4, 2016 by The Jazz Gallery
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This Wednesday, May 4th, Aaron Parks and Joel Ross will conclude their mentorship project with a performance at South Jazz Parlor in Philadelphia. The pair will be joined by John Ellis on saxophone, Matt Brewer on bass, and Anwar Marshall on drums, and will play two sets at 7 and 9 p.m. See here for more information and tickets.

Parks has been extremely impressed by Ross’s maturity and musicianship over the course of their experience. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, The Jazz Gallery’s blog, Aaron said the following:

Joel is a special player. He’s already at a point as a player where he’s ready to adapt to many different situations. He doesn’t have that paint-by-numbers or cookie-cutter approach at all. He’s someone that I want to play with regardless of this mentorship program, but this gives me the opportunity to do it in a fun, structured way. He’s already adapting to everything, regardless of what’s happening or who’s playing in the rhythm section, and following his own inner muse as well.

Philadelphia friends should stop by to see this musical partnership reach new levels interplay and intimacy. And for those who have still yet to check out Ross’s work, listen to his hard swinging set posted above.

Aaron Parks & Joel Ross at SEEDS and The Jazz Gallery

Posted on April 19, 2016 by The Jazz Gallery

This week, Aaron Parks and Joel Ross continue their mentorship series concerts with performances at SEEDS in Brooklyn and at The Jazz Gallery in Manhattan. The pair will play at SEEDS this Tuesday evening at 9 pm and will be joined by saxophonist John Ellis, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer Kendrick Scott. On Thursday, the pair will play two sets at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M., and will be again joined by Mr. Ellis, as well as bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Eric McPherson.

This week, The Jazz Gallery blog Jazz Speaks caught up with Aaron to talk about his work on this project. The conversation went in surprising directions, touching on the very nature of musical influence and growth. Check out the interview here before coming out to see the shows.

Aaron Parks & Joel Ross at Shapeshifter Lab, Brooklyn

Posted on April 7, 2016 by The Jazz Gallery
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This Thursday, April 7th, marks the debut of the Aaron Parks-Joel Ross mentorship project at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn. The pair will be joined by an all-star band—John Ellis on saxophones, Dezron Douglas on bass, and Eric Harland on drums—for one set at 8 PM.

According to Parks, the group’s “…seasonal menu/repertoire will consist of a wild-foraged selection of songs by some peers/colleagues/friends, as well as a couple of our own homegrown tunes.”

You can purchase tickets at the door, or if you’re not in New York, you can live-stream the concert here. In the meantime, check out Ross’s deep-pocketed version of Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” in the video above, and stay tuned for interviews with both artists at Jazz Speaks.

The Jazz Gallery Mentorship Series Volume 3, Edition 1: Aaron Parks and Joel Ross

Posted on March 28, 2016 by The Jazz Gallery
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Starting next week, The Jazz Gallery is excited to present the first mentorship series concerts of our new season, featuring mentor-pianist Aaron Parks and young vibraphonist Joel Ross.

Parks is among the most prominent and influential pianists working in jazz today. As a leader or co-leader, Parks has released highly-varied albums on Blue Note, Nonesuch, and ECM Records and toured the world over. Parks is an effortless technician at the piano, but never in a dry way. He has an uncommon ability to strike the emotional core of a tune during his improvisation. Check out his collaboration “November” with saxophonist Ben Wendel in the video above.

Parks is an ideal mentor for our series because he came up on the big stage at a very young age. At the age of 18, Parks became the pianist in trumpeter Terrence Blanchard’s band, and went on to play on five of Blanchard’s critically-acclaimed records, including the Grammy-winning A Tale of God’s Will: A Requiem for Katrina. Parks is a deep and perceptive musical thinker, always eager to share his insights, including in interviews with The Jazz Gallery’s blog, Jazz Speaks.

Vibraphonist Joel Ross is still a student at the New School in New York City, but is already establishing himself as a voice to be reckoned with in the greater jazz scene. He not only plays with talented peers like the pianist James Francies, but was recently featured with The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performing the music of George Gershwin. Back in January at the Winter Jazz Festival in New York, Ross caught the eyes and ears of New York Times critic Nate Chinen. Chinen wrote that Ross is on a “…rocket-like trajectory,” and that “he’s somebody I’ll keep an eye on in the coming months.” While Ross’s playing is rooted in the jazz vibraphone tradition—his sound can be spiky like Lionel Hampton or cool and smooth like Milt Jackson—his rhythmic sense is thoroughly contemporary, featuring intense syncopation and rapid-fire delivery.

Over the next several weeks, Parks and Ross will play four concerts throughout New York and beyond, along with other top-notch players including saxophonist John Ellis, bassist Dezron Douglas, and drummer Eric McPherson. Check out their tour schedule below:

Thursday, April 7th – 8 PM – SEEDS (617 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn NY)

Tuesday, April 19th – 9 PM – SEEDS

Thursday, April 21st – 7:30 & 9:30 PM – The Jazz Gallery  (1160 Broadway, New York, NY)

Wednesday, May 4th – 7 & 9 PM – SOUTH  (600 North Broad St, Philadelphia, PA)

Visit us at www.jazzgallery.org for tickets and more information about the project.

The Jazz Gallery Mentorship Series Volume 2, edition 1: Adam Rogers and Jimmy MacBride

Posted on September 10, 2015 by The Jazz Gallery
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As The Jazz Gallery begins its 2015-16 season, we are proud to present the our first Mentorship Series concerts throughout the month of September, featuring mentor Adam Rogers (guitar) and mentee Jimmy MacBride (drums).

Rogers is a critically acclaimed guitarist and Jazz Gallery regular who has worked with a who’s who of major jazz artists—saxophonists Michael Brecker and Chris Potter, vocalists Norah Jones and Cassandra Wilson, trumpeters Terrence Blanchard and Randy Brecker, just to name a few. He has recorded five albums under his own name, and three with the collaborative electro-jazz outfit “Lost Tribe.” Check his virtuosic and sensitive playing with his trio DICE at The Jazz Gallery in 2011.

Jimmy MacBride is a young drummer beginning to make a name for himself in New York. A recent graduate of the Juilliard School, MacBride plays with a variety of groups throughout the city, including saxophonist Jimmy Greene’s quartet. Check out our blog JazzSpeaks for an interview with Jimmy about working as a sideman and his preparations for the Mentorship Series concerts.

Rogers and MacBride will be featured together at a series of concerts at The Jazz Gallery and beyond over the next few weeks:

September 10th – 9 PM – SEEDS (617 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn NY)

September 14th – 7 PM – The Falcon (1348 Rte 9W, Marlboro, NY)

September 15th – 7:30 & 9:30 PM – The Jazz Gallery  (1160 Broadway, New York, NY)

September 22nd – 9 PM – SEEDS

Rogers and MacBride will be joined by pianist David Virelles and bassist Scott Colley for these performances (Matt Brewer replaces Mr. Colley on the 22nd). Visit us at www.jazzgallery.org for more information.


The Début Series Expanded is a significant expansion of our core program. For over 15 years, the Début Series has showcased a deeply culturally diverse group of the most promising young jazz talent from around the country. Over the course of over 100 annual performances, jazz’s brightest emerging stars get their start on our stage and benefit from live performance experiences, workshop and rehearsal time, press and marketing exposure, and mentorship from senior members of the jazz community. We are proud that young artists assume artistic residence in our space and are afforded resources unavailable from typical, commercial jazz venues.

Our expanded focuses in 2016 include:

1. Regional Partnerships:

In the past we have partnered with other NYC ­area venues to present workshops and additional Début Series performances in the outer boroughs. Now, we are expanding this program regionally and building a network with other jazz organizations, starting in Brooklyn (SEEDS), New England (The Side Door), and Philadelphia (Kimmel Center) to help young artists book their first major tours and gain national exposure. Our resources will include booking assistance, marketing and PR support, and travel and housing stipends. With the support of this network of venues, emerging artists will be able to build their career in a sustainable way and new audiences will get to hear these incredible young artists as they tour the country.

2. Business Skills & Exposure:

Training artists to manage themselves effectively as small businesses and to build an audience for their work is a priority. Our blog, JazzSpeaks.org, is a highly visible and respected voice in the sphere of digital music writing and our new podcast initiative gives young artists a platform to connect with fans worldwide. We have also hired a Staff Marketing Director who will consult with our artists on promotion and achieving visibility in a crowded marketplace.

3. Artist Resources:

We provide our venue for rehearsal and workshop space at no cost to emerging artists. Dozens of young artists assemble exciting new ensembles and find their compositional voice simply by being given the time and space to create, risk-free.

4. Mentorship:

Three young artists will be paired with a senior­-level jazz artist for lessons, rehearsals, composition workshops, band-leading, and the business of jazz, culminating in four performances featuring mentor and mentee together on our stage. Today’s young artists are less likely to benefit from professional mentorship as the economy of jazz changes and older artists spend less time on tour. Our program fills that gap.

Proposed mentors are Ambrose Akinmusire, Miles Okazaki, and Aaron Parks, who themselves benefitted from our Début Series early in their professional careers.

5. Presentation:

We identify and cultivate the best young talent, booking them on Thursday nights throughout the year, granting a low-­pressure environment focused on artistic development and without the pressure of ticket sales. This year we will offer selected performances with free admission to encourage audiences to take a chance on an unknown talent.

Project Media

JazzSpeaks: James Francies and Jason Lindner
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Features: The Jazz Gallery

Podcast from The Jazz Gallery’s official blog, www.jazzspeaks.org. This is an exit interview for an installment of the Mentoring Program that paired The Jazz Gallery veteran Jason Lindner with a newcomer from Texas, 19-year-old piano prodigy James Francies. They discuss their Mentoring Program experience and what they learned from the opportunity to work closely with each other in “real life” situations created by the program. Highlight: 8:50 — James and Jason discuss the benefits of this type of real time, on-the-bandstand learning.

Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet

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Features: Ambrose Akinmusire

Ambrose Akinmusire will be one of the mentors for the upcoming season. The performance here features his long-time, working quintet. Ambrose’s mentee will replace one of the regular members in the Mentoring Program performances to experience working and learning in a professional, outside-the-classroom setting. This video demonstrates the level of musicianship and professionalism of the artists selected to foster the educational Mentoring Program environment.

Zack Lober: The Ancestry Project
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Zack Lober’s “The Ancestry Project” was presented at The Jazz Gallery in 2014 in a Début Series performance after its premiere in Canada. He sought our advice on marketing strategy, which resulted in his securing a coveted editorial mention in The New York Times. We realized that artists who are new to presenting their own projects need much more than an open environment to create and experiment—they need opportunities to learn about other aspects such as business and marketing skills in order to better pursue their artistic endeavors.

Start and End Dates



New York, New York

7 updates
Last update on November 1, 2016

Project Created By

New York, New York
“As a jazz journalist who has followed developments in New York for over thirty years, I can honestly say that jazz would not sound the way it does today had not The Jazz Gallery served as a locus for NYC’s polyglot musical community to exchange ideas and work on moving to the next step” – Ted…

In Collaboration With

Los Angeles, California
Brooklyn, New York
Collaborating Presenter (SEEDS:: Brooklyn Arts)
Brooklyn, New York


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