20 rising U.S. jazz talents recognized with Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award

The ASCAP Foundation has named the 2021 recipients of the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award, recognizing young, up-and-coming jazz talent in the United States.

The award, named after the great trumpeter, ASCAP member and A&M Records founder, is granted annually to encourage talented young jazz composers and arrangers during the earliest stages of their careers.

Each of the 20 winners receives a cash award, and one of them will be featured by the Newport Jazz Festival.

The recipients were chosen by a panel of experts made up of Ambrose Akinmusire, Wycliffe Gordon and Jihye Lee.

All the award winners currently live in the U.S., but they hail from around the world, including India, China and Japan.


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Here are the 2021 recipients of the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award:

  • Clint Bleil, 26, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Continue On for big band
  • Andy Clausen, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y. (via Seattle, Wash.); Robert Henry for brass quartet
  • Eddie Codrington a.k.a. Stratøs, 24, of Kalamazoo, Mich. (via Ann Arbor, Mich.); Gate’s Opening for tenor sax, piano, bass, and string quartet
  • Michael Echaniz, 26, of Oakland, Calif. (via Berkeley, Calif.); Gernika (Bask Balms) for jazz ensemble and sampler
  • Eliana Fishbeyn, 25, of New York, N.Y. (via Chapel Hill, N.C.); to those we leave behind for big band
  • Ariel Sha Glassman, 24, of Denton, Texas (via Columbus, Ohio); Captain Iso for big band
  • Philip Ryan Goss, 28, of Brookline, Mass. (via Evanston, Ill.); To The Skies for big band
  • Jon Hatamiya, 29, of Sacramento, Calif. (via Davis, Calif.); Too Much to Do for big band
  • Joseph Herbst, 25, of Easley, S.C.; They Say There are Beautiful Trees for alto sax, flugelhorn, piano, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals
  • Chase Kuesel, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y. (via Norwalk, Conn.); The World is Now Your Own for voice, tenor sax, piano, bass, and drums
  • Aditi Malhotra, 23, of Boston, Mass. (via New Delhi, India); In the Quiet for voice, doublebass, percussion, piano, and harp
  • Luca Mendoza, 22, of Los Angeles, Calif.; Miniatures for jazz trio and full orchestra
  • Lesley Mok, 26, of Brooklyn, N.Y. (via San Mateo, Calif.); Maquette for flute, alto sax, trumpet, piano, bass, and drums
  • Yu Nishiyama, 26 of Hawthorne, N.J. (via Yokohama, Japan); Honorary Whites for 17-piece big band
  • Zach Rich, 27, of Greeley, Colo. (via Wichita, Kan.); Let Me Clarify for big band
  • Yoko Suzuki, 26, of Yokohama, Japan; Flies in May for big band
  • Gary (Kaiji) Wang, 25, of Rochester, N.Y. (via Beijing, China); Lullabye and Dreams for soprano sax, piano, bass, drums, and string quartet
  • Alex Weitz, 30, of New York, N.Y. (via Tucson, Ariz.); Odyssey for tenor sax, vibes, piano, bass, and drums
  • Matt Wong, 22, of New York, N.Y. (via San Francisco, Calif.); A Little Hut for modified big band
  • Courtney Wright, 26 of New York, N.Y. (via Woodbridge, Va.); Like Thad for big band

The jurors also made honourable mentions of the following composers:

  • Henry Godfrey, 24, of Jamaica Plain, Mass. (via Silver Spring, Md.); We’ll Get There for jazz ensemble
  • Oliver Mann, 17, of California; Two Mile Turbulence for saxophones, flute, piano, bass, guitars and drums
  • Daiki Nakajima, 18, of San Jose, Calif.; Sleep with the Sun, Wake with the Moon for trumpet, alto sax (doubling EWI), tenor sax (doubling flute & tin whistle), trombone, piano, guitar, bass, and drums
  • Hunter McKay, 24, of Boston, Mass. (via York, Maine); Engine Noise for full big band
  • Yuma Uesaka, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y. (via London, U.K.); Iterations I for tenor sax, piano, and drums
  • Andrew Watkins Alcocer, 24, of Rochester, N.Y. (via Fresno, Calif.); Tragnos Signoras for large ensemble

The 2021 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award winners and honourable mentions, in alphabetical order.
Credit: Composite photo created by Frank J. Oteri for publication in NewMusicBox

The name of the award recognizes the Herb Alpert Foundation’s continuing financial commitment to the program. The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund provides additional funding.

“We are grateful to the Herb Alpert Foundation for their long-standing partnership and financial support for this important program to help nurture the careers of talented young music creators,” said Paul Williams, president of the ASCAP Foundation. “Every year we look forward to hearing the innovative compositions from our Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award recipients, who are the future of this vital art form. We congratulate and wish them enduring success.”