Year Two Alumnae
Akua Allrich


Jazz vocalist and DC-native Akua Allrich has proven herself to be a musician of extraordinary talent and crowd-moving passion. With finesse and charisma, this vocalist, composer and teacher, has successfully etched out a place for her unique musical expression, electrifying audiences with sold-out performances. She offers an artistry that she aptly (and perhaps playfully) summarized as “Jazz + Neo Afro-Soul-Blues-reggae-funk-rock-folk music.” Allrich can carry a tune across these many genres with stunning authority. The innovative sound of her albums, A Peace of Mine, Uniquely Standard, Akua Allrich Live!, and her latest album, Soul Singer, has earned the young artist’s music and performances international acclaim. Akua Allrich has inspired music lovers from all walks with her exceptional work and brilliant artistry. 
AkuaAllrich.comFacebook @AkuaAllrichInstagram & Twitter @akuaallrich
Simone Baron
Praised as a “bandleader of impressive agility... a blossoming talent and inventive composer on the rise” (Downbeat Magazine), Simone Baron is an uncompromising genre-queer composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist whose art campaigns for communal deep listening and somatic empathy. Her work, declared “ego-less, genre agnostic and without expectations” (JazzTimes), is rooted in a deep curiosity about the creative process. Her music is of struggle, looking both backwards and forwards, and fueled by self inquiry, dreamwork, and rhizomatic processes. Steeped in her Judeo-Roman roots, the pianist-accordionist was educated at Oberlin and Tel Aviv University and joyfully de-educated in festivals and performances across Europe and the Americas, including residencies at the Banff Centre, Avaloch Farm and Strathmore, gratefully receiving grants from Chamber Music America, the Maryland State Arts Council, and DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities. Her compositions have been commissioned and premiered by ensembles and orchestras of various configurations, and she looks forward to releasing and touring a new body of works in the coming season and leading a series of graphic score workshops for participants of all ages. She divides her time leading and touring with her genre-fluid chamber jazz ensemble, Arco Belo, researching chimeric contamination and writing ruin manifestos with her multidisciplinary collectives decay//crystallization and strap on synesthesia. Simone also serves as curation director for Boulanger Initiative, a DC based non profit advocacy that fights gender discrimination in concert programming. Simone is a Victoria Artist and plays a Poeta XB Accordion. 
Website: Facebook @simonebaronmusicInstagram @simonescapades
Gina Benalcazar
Gina Benalcazar was born and raised in Queens New York. She completed her undergraduate at University of North Florida in Classical Bass Trombone Performance and her graduate studies at Michigan State University in Jazz Studies. Under the mentorship of artists like Michael Dease, Luis Bonilla, David Gibson, and Doug Purviance, she has become one of the most in-demand doublers on the scene. As a low brass douber she subs in bands with Christian McBride, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Birdland Big Band, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. She is also a member of Rodney Whitaker’s Jazz Orchestra at Dr. Phillips Center, Ulysses Owen’s Jr’s New Century Big Band, and the David Gibson Big Band. She is one of the Administrative Faculty at the Brevard Jazz Institute, under the direction of Michael Dease. She has also had the opportunity to play and record with artists and bands such as the Mica Bethea Big Band, The Becoming Quintet, Michael Dease, Rodney Whitaker, Etienne Charles, Ulysses Owens Jr., Christian McBride, David Gibson, Seneca Black, Dick Oatts, and more. Gina is now leading a quintet called “The BOUNCE” that was selected for a Chamber Music of America grant in 2019. They perform in clubs around the North East, as well as in Lansing Michigan, and are scheduled to record their first album in the Spring of 2021.
GinaBenalcazar.comInstagram, Facebook & Twitter @badeeduh
Jordyn Davis
Jordyn Davis (b. 1995) is a bassist, composer, songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist from Inkster, MI. In May 2019, Davis became the first African-American woman to receive a Bachelor's Degree in Music Composition from Michigan State University as well as the first Michigan State student to receive a Bachelor's Degree in Music Composition and Jazz Studies concurrently.  She has composed & arranged over 20 works for film, various contemporary classical chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, wind ensemble,  as well as various jazz ensembles including octet, and big band. She has also performed and worked with artists such Rodney Whitaker, Micheal Dease, Bruce Barth, Wycliffe Gordon & The Black Excellence Trombone Choir, Ingrid Jensen, Rick Roe & more. Additionally, she is the founder of an indie rock/neo-soul project called "Composetheway" & is currently pursuing a Masters in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University.
Website: www.composetheway.comFacebook, Instagram & Twitter, SoundCloud @composetheway
Jhoely Garay
Jhoely Garay is a guitarist, composer and arranger from Mexico City based in New York since 2014. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music at The City College of New York in 2020, where she studied with iconic figures of the music scene such as Steve Wilson, Mike Holober, Scott Reeves, Peter Bernstein, Freddie Bryant, Lage Lund, among others. Garay is a three-time winner of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation scholarship and a recipient of the Austin and Florence Kaye Foundation Scholarship. She was a grantee of the “Young Creators” program 2020 by the National Fund for Culture and the Arts in Mexico and the winner of the Portland Jazz Composition Prize in 2020. In addition, she was a Latin Grammy Foundation Ambassador at the Latin Grammy Celebration in 2018 and 2019 and a participant of the International Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music at The Banff Centre in Canada in 2017.
Facebook @jhoeneulingInstagram @jhoegaraymusicTwitter @jhoegaray
Candice Hoyes
Candice Hoyes is poised to “shape the artist-cum-activist role." (NPR) In 2020, she released “Zora’s Moon,” the title single of her mostly self-penned upcoming project. This jaunty retro soul escapade is her response to this moment: an ode to Black girlhood. Candice brings otherworldly vocalism to her new single, "Waiting for the World (Tired)," which features the 1930 poem "Tired" by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes set in a lyrical Afro Futuristic soundscape.  Candice is a 2020 winner of the inaugural NYC Women’s Fund for Film, Music and Media. She has recently been commissioned by the National Black Theater and Michelle Obama's When We All Vote to co-create a new work to empower Black voters leading into the US Presidential election. Recent performances include 2020 NYC JazzFest, Nublu JazzFest, the Public Theater, and the Blue Note. As an activist, she collaborates with the Feminist Press, Well-Read Black Girl, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in Law, Harlem Arts Alliance, Women in Music, and numerous grassroots organizations. She has produced her feminist performance lecture series for Jazz at Lincoln Center and CUNY for three consecutive seasons. Candice has written for Shondaland, Blavity and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and spoken and performed at TED HQ.Her brand new project is co-written with GRAMMY-award winning pianist, Sullivan Fortner (Paul Simon, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Dianne Reeves). The project is produced by GRAMMY-award winning multi-instrumentalist Casey Benjamin (Anderson .Paak, Robert Glasper, Q-Tip) and features performances by vibraphonist Joel Ross (Marquis Hill, Makaya McCraven), trumpeter Keyon Harrold (Nas), Chiara Fasi (Solange). Candice's family hails from Jamaica, and she is an honors graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology and African American Studies and Columbia Law School.
Website: www.candicehoyes.comFacebook @candicehoyesmusic, Instagram & Twitter @candicehoyes
Hannah Marks
Hannah Marks is a bassist, bandleader, composer, and educator living in New York City. As a bandleader, she has performed at several major festivals, including the Detroit Jazz Festival, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Iowa City Jazz Festival, and Indy Jazz Festival. Her current project, Tide Pools, is a collective trio with alto saxophonist Alfredo Connor and drummer Connor Parks. She is a member of Morgan Guerin’s quartet and Kristen Lee Seargent’s band, as well as a frequent sideman with Geoffrey Keezer, Ingrid Jensen, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members Marcus Printup and Ted Nash. Marks is a 2019 alumnus of Betty Carter Jazz Ahead, a 2018 alumnus of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, and a 2014 alumnus of the Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony. She is on faculty at The Spence School and runs her own private lesson studio. 
Website: Facebook: @hannahmarksbassSoundCloud @hannah-marks
Berta Moreno
"Berta invests emotional content into whatever she’s doing, something you can sense whether you’re in the audience or on the bandstand alongside her. She’s smart focused dependable, serious about her music but an affable person—the sort you want to work with." —Downbeat Magazine (2017)
Multi-Awarded Jazz saxophonist / composer from Spain based in New York City, who has captured the eye of the audience as well as grabbed the attention of U.S. press and jazz critics, being featured in magazines such as Downbeat Magazine, All About Jazz or Latin-Jazz Network among others.
Critics usually define her as “a highly thoughtful and precise soloist, with well-planned statements that don't waste any notes” (Troy Dostert- All About Jazz)
With an extensive career, she has been touring as a bandleader in Europe for over 8 years, performing in some of the main jazz festivals around Europe, including NORTH SEA JAZZ, and some of the main venues and theatres, TV and Radio programs both in Europe and U.S. 
After moving to New York, where she earned a BFA in Jazz Performance -Summa Cum Laude- from The City College of New York, Berta released her debut album "Little Steps" (2017) playing with this project in venues such as Minton’s, Fat Cat, ShapeShifter Lab or Club Bonafide in New York, as well as touring in Europe "selling out" in legendary clubs like “Clamores” (Spain), “The Music Village” (Belgium) or “Jazz Cellar 11” (Lithuania).
Her album won a Global Music Awards Gold Medal for Best Jazz Album of 2018, as received a nomination for Best Jazz Album by The 16th Independent Music Awards (US), and The MIN Music Awards (Spain).
She is currently living and working in New York where she is deeply involved in the Jazz, Latin and World Music scene both as a player and composer.
BertaMoreno.comFacebook, Instagram & Twitter @bertamorenojazzPress Page:
Zoe Obadia
Zoe Obadia is a saxophonist, composer, and teacher. Zoe started playing the saxophone at age nine and became immersed in a community of great jazz musicians and educators based in New Jersey, her home state. In high school, she began playing locally with her peers and sitting in with mentors. She participated in the Essentially Ellington and Mingus festivals with the Jazz House Kids Big Band, and was a 2014 Young Arts Jazz Finalist and Downbeat High School Soloist Winner. She also performed at the Pittsfield Jazz Festival as the featured young artist and at the Caramoor Jazz Festival with her own group.  She began her studies at the Juilliard School in 2014 and has since performed in New York City as a leader and a sideperson with Mathis Picard's Sound Orchestra, Sebastian Rios' New Jazz Underground,  the Evan Sherman Big Band, Micah Thomas duo, and more, at venues such as Dizzy’s, Smalls, Mezzrow, Birdland, the Blue Note, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. She has also had the opportunity to play with  Wynton Marsalis, the Mingus Big Band, Christian McBride, Antonio Hart, Dave Stryker, Diane Schuur, Bill Charlap, and others. For several years, Zoe has worked as a teaching assistant at the Jazz House Kids Summer Workshop and the Middle School Jazz Academy at Jazz at Lincoln Center. She also teaches privately. She received a masters degree from the Juilliard School in May, 2020.
Ashley Pezzotti
Born in Queens, New York, vocalist and composer Ashley Pezzotti discovered her love for music when her Dominican father would sing her classic Spanish songs to sleep. She began taking voice lessons at 4 years old, and in 2018 she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music with a full tuition scholarship. At the young age of 25 years old, Ashley has performed with renowned artists such as Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Dave Holland, Jon Secada, and country star Keith Urban. In the spring of 2019, Ashley participated in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program where she was mentored by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jason Moran, Casey Benjamin, Marcus Printup, and Peter Martin and performed her original compositions at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Her 2019 debut album “We've Only Just Begun” features an array of original compositions inspired by the Great American Songbook. Ashley also showcases her superb ability to tell a story through some of the great jazz standards featured on the album. The album features a world class band including Emmet Cohen on piano, Alex Weitz on tenor saxophone, Bob Bruya on bass, and Kyle Poole on drums. The release was accompanied by a national tour including performances at Birdland Jazz Club, The Velvet Note, The Nash, The Jazz Showcase, and Dizzy's Club at Jazz At Lincoln Center. Ashley is featured on Wynton Marsalis' latest album release on Blue Engine Records, The Ever Fonky Lowdown, along with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The album is a sweeping Marsalis suite that captures the artist's insight on culture and society. 
Website: www.ashleypezzotti.comFacebook @ashleypezzottimusicTwitter @AshleyMPezzottiInstagram @ashleypezzottiYouTube
Marta Sanchez
Born in Madrid, Marta came to New York in 2011 thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship to complete a master in Jazz Piano Performance at NYU. Since then, her main project, her quintet, has released three albums: “Partenika” (2015), “Danza imposible” (2017), and “El Rayo de Luz” (2019). All of the albums received great reviews from the American press being two of these records, “Partenika” and “El Rayo de Luz” selected by The New York Times as one of the 10 best albums of 2015 and Best 10 jazz albums of 2019. Her records have been praised at “Fresh Air”, DownBeat, WBGO, among many other outlets. She has toured the United States, Europe, South America and Central America, performing as a leader at prestigious venues and festivals such as North Sea Jazz Festival, Eurojazz in Mexico City, Eurojazz in Athens, Jazz Festival Vitoria Gasteiz, Winter Jazz Festival in New York, Madrid Jazz Festival and many others. In 2017 and 2021 she was granted a residency at MacDowell Colony.
Website: Facebook @MartaSanchezMusicInstagram @martasanchezpianoTwitter @martasanchez991
Marisa Webster
Marisa Webster, a native of Orange Park, Florida a suburb outside of Jacksonville, is a trumpeter, composer, arranger, entrepreneur, and music educator. Ever since beginning the trumpet in the seventh-grade, music has been a passion in her life. she is a graduate of the prestigious Douglas Anderson School of the arts, as well as a graduate of The Florida State University. Marisa is currently attending Temple University in pursuit of her master's degree in Jazz performance. And studying under the acclaimed trumpeter, Terell Stafford.In 2018 Marisa joined the Mica Bethea Big Band, a phenomenal group based in Jacksonville, Fl. Along with that, she has had the great opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall, the Savannah Heritage "Future of Jazz" Festival, the Lavilla Jazz Festival, The Northeast Florida Jazz Society reception, the Midwest Clinic, and the Jacksonville Festival. 
Marisa is an alumnus of The 2019 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. An international jazz residency that features performances and compositions by the next generation of jazz greats. The performances take place at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center.Marisa has had the opportunity to perform and study with various artist, including Teddy Adams, John Lumpkin, Marcus Printup, Mica Bethea, Alphonso Horne, Marcus Roberts, Ron Blake, Victor Provost, Ulysses Owens Jr., Dion Parson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Peter Martin, Jason Moran, Greg Hutchinson, Rodney Jordan, Leon Anderson, and Jason Hainsworth.
Website: Instagram @marisa.d.websterYouTube
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