It Must Be Now!

2020-22 MIT Sounding Series

Terri Lyne Carrington. Credit: Jacobs.
Sean Jones, Jazz at the Bistro. Courtesy of the artist.
Braxton Cook. Credit Tom Van Scoyoc.

Advancing social justice actions through music and media

Under the auspices of CAST’s MIT Sounding series, It Must Be Now! (IMBN!), led by Fred Harris, brings together three leading musicians (Terri Lyne Carrington, Braxton Cook, and Sean Jones) to collectively compose a large-scale work for MIT musicians on the overall theme of racial justice. Collaborating with multimedia artists, MIT students and community members, and others beyond MIT, this two-year project seeks to address racial and social injustices and their confluences. IMBN! explores institutional racism; environmental, economic, and health injustices; police brutality; and abolitionism.

During the spring 2021 semester, Carrington, Cook, and Jones will workshop their compositions and participate in virtual masterclasses with MIT students. Over the course of the 2021-22 academic year, portions of the composition and its media components will be released online, leading up to a live performance involving the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, other vocalists and instrumentalists, narration, multimedia, and all three composers.

About the Project

It Must Be Now! (IMBN!) brings together three leading musicians (Terri Lyne Carrington, Braxton Cook, and Sean Jones) to collectively compose a large-scale work for MIT musicians on the overall theme of racial justice. Collaborating with multimedia artists, MIT students and community members, and others beyond MIT, this two-year project seeks to address racial and social injustices and their confluences. IMBN! explores subject matter that includes institutional racism; environmental, economic, gender, and health injustices; police brutality; and abolitionism.

The genesis of the project began to take shape in March 2019, during trumpeter-composer-educator Sean Jones’ successful residency with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble. One year later, as a massive racial reckoning swept the country in response to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other Black Americans, Music Director and project lead Fred Harris felt that an artistic response was needed, and that a collaboration he had imagined with Jones could be expanded into a larger, multi-disciplinary effort that reflected the magnitude and urgency of the situation.

IMBN!, a two-year sequence of new commissions, workshops, and performances, is that larger response and collaboration. During the spring 2021 semester, Carrington, Cook, and Jones will workshop their compositions and participate in virtual masterclasses with MIT students. They will also begin working with a team of students headed by MIT Technical Instructor and renowned theater designer Joshua Higgason to create media content inspired by the compositions.

Additional MIT community involvement will be organized by CAST intern and Comparative Media Studies/Writing student Ethan Nevidomsky ‘22.

Beginning in fall 2021, portions of the composition and its media components will be released online, leading up to a live performance in spring 2022 involving the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, other vocalists and instrumentalists, narration, multimedia, and all three composers.

Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, and many other jazz artists have long addressed racial issues through their music and words. New generations of musicians, which include Carrington, Cook, and Jones, have continued on this path. They are more than poised to address the urgency of the present racial reckoning.

As Director of Berklee College of Music’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, Carrington is a leader in equity issues and gender justice. Her band, Social Science, whose debut recording is nominated for a 2021 Grammy award, and her previous Mosaic Project and Money Jungle recordings, have all brought gender or racial injustices to the fore. Cook, concerned with social justice issues throughout his career, composed Hymn (for Trayvon) for his 2017 debut album Somewhere In Between. Jones, a musician whose artistic mindset is never far from the realities of racial injustice, has engaged in the topic through his leadership role as president of the Jazz Educators Network and through his compositions, such as A Suite for Flying Girls, inspired by the installation Flying Girls by Nigerian artist Peju Alatise.

By bringing together members of MIT’s academic and non-academic communities with renowned musicians and multimedia arts, It Must Be Now! intends to build a coalition promoting heightened awareness and change.

“This is a project about process and transformation,” notes Harris. “I’m particularly excited about it facilitating a variety of students across disciplines to engage with these phenomenal artists in shaping the final work. Our biggest objective is to inspire activism and enact change. We want to acknowledge historical perspectives of various injustices but move toward this moment, imagining what could and should be reality now.”

Public Events

Past Events

Terri Lyne Carrington—An Artist Responding to Injustice

A discussion/masterclass with the NEA Jazz Master and three-time Grammy award-winning drummer, producer, educator, and activist
March 26, 2021 / 1:00-3:30pm

Join Terri Lyne Carrington, MIT CAST’s It Must Be Now! Visiting Artist, 2019 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, and founder/artistic director of the Berklee College of Music Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, for an interactive session exploring her multi-faceted career, activism, and her recent 2021 Grammy-nominated album Waiting Game, by her band Social Science. This wide-ranging session includes a drum set performance by Ms. Carrington, who has recorded and toured with such artists as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding, Yellowjackets, and countless other jazz luminaries.


Saxophone Masterclass with Braxton Cook

March 15, 2021 / 7:00pm

Emmy award-winning artist and alto saxophone virtuoso Braxton Cook will be working directly with saxophone players from the MIT Wind Ensemble and Festival Jazz Ensemble.


Exploring Sean Jones’ Musical Worlds

Trumpeter, Composer, Educator, Bandleader, and Activist: An interactive masterclass
February 23, 2021 / 5:30-7:00pm

MIT CAST’s It Must Be Now! Visiting Artist Sean Jones has worked with many of today’s greatest jazz artists including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Wynton Marsalis. The renowned trumpeter and educator is the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz at John Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute, Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall’s NYO (National Youth Orchestra) Jazz, President of the Jazz Education Network, and a Mack Avenue Records artist.

This interactive masterclass will explore facets of Jones’ career including as a composer of A Suite for Flying Girls, his teaching philosophies, and the influence of Donald Byrd on his own playing. Prof. Jones will perform and also offer feedback to MIT musicians during this wide-ranging session.

Collaborators

Fred Harris, Director of Wind and Jazz Ensembles, MIT Music and Theater Arts

Joshua Higgason, Technical Instructor, Music and Theater Arts, MIT

About the Artists

Terri Lyne Carrington plays the drums.

NEA Jazz Master and three-time GRAMMY® award-winning drummer, producer, and educator, Terri Lyne Carrington started her professional career as a “kid wonder” while studying under a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In the mid ’80’s she worked as an in-demand drummer in New York before gaining national recognition on late night TV as the house drummer for both the Arsenio Hall Show and Quincy Jones’ VIBE TV show.

While still in her 20’s, Carrington toured extensively with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, among others, and in 1989 released a Grammy-nominated debut CD on Verve Forecast, Real Life Story. In 2011 she released the Grammy award-winning album, The Mosaic Project, featuring a cast of all-star women instrumentalists and vocalists, and in 2013 she released, Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, which also earned a Grammy award, establishing her as the first woman ever to win in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.

To date Carrington has performed on over 100 recordings and has toured or recorded with luminary artists such as Al Jarreau, Stan Getz, Woody Shaw, Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, James Moody, Yellowjackets, Esperanza Spalding, and many more. Additionally, Carrington is an honorary doctorate recipient from Berklee, and currently serves as Founder and Artistic Director for the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.

In 2019, Carrington was granted the Doris Duke Artist Award, a prestigious acknowledgement in recognition of her past and ongoing contributions to jazz music. Her current band project, Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science (a collaboration with Aaron Parks and Matthew Stevens), released their debut album, Waiting Game, in November 2019 on Motema Music.

Waiting Game was nominated for a 2021 Grammy award and has been celebrated as one of the best jazz releases of 2019 by Rolling Stone, Downbeat, The Boston Globe, and Popmatters. Downbeat describes the album as, “a two-disc masterstroke on par with Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 hip-hop classic, ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’…” Carrington was named as JazzTimes Critics’ Poll Artist of the Year, Jazz Artist of the Year by The Boston Globe, and Jazz Musician of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.


Braxton Cook plays the alto saxophone.

Braxton Cook (born March 27, 1991 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an Emmy award-winning artist and one of this generation’s most exciting emerging voices in the jazz world. Not only does he exhibit world-class virtuosity on the alto saxophone, but he is also a uniquely talented vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer whose sound blends jazz, soul, and alternative R&B into a fresh new sound all his own.

After several moves up and down the East Coast, Cook’s family settled in Silver Spring, Maryland. There, he attended Springbrook High School and studied saxophone under the tutelage of world-class educator Paul Carr. After graduating in 2009, Cook attended Georgetown University and studied English with a concentration in African American Studies. In his free time, Cook worked regularly in the D.C. Jazz scene on the historic U Street strip of Jazz clubs. By age 18, he had already made quite a name for himself by leading his own band at Bohemian Caverns, HR-57, Twins Jazz, and many other venues throughout the D.C. area.

In the fall of 2011, Cook decided to transfer from Georgetown to The Juilliard School to continue his studies and pursue his music career full-time. In his first year, Braxton met Grammy award-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott and became a long-term member in Christian’s band, honing his skills on the road. Braxton has been featured on several of Christian Scott’s studio albums, some of which include Stretch Music (2015), Diaspora (2017), and the Grammy-award nominated album Emancipation Procrastination (2017). He also toured and performed with Christian McBride Big Band, Jon Batiste, and Marquis Hill, among others. During this time, Cook was also selected as a semi-finalist in the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition.

In 2014, while still a student, Braxton Cook released his debut EP Sketch (2014). The following year in 2015, he graduated from The Juilliard School and continued his musical development with the release of his sophomore project Braxton Cook Meets Butcher Brown (2015), launching his solo career and bringing him to festivals and venues across the country. In April of 2017, Cook released his debut album Somewhere In Between, which allowed him to tour both nationally and internationally to the UK as well as Japan. In less than a year, Somewhere in Between and the Somewhere in Between Remixes & Outtakes albums amassed millions of streams and downloads on Spotify and Apple Music, and have been praised by peers, musicians, and critics alike. Saint Heron noted Cook’s demonstration of “unmatched flexibility by merging multiple genres into an ardent, passionate, and soul-filled project.”

In 2017, Fader Magazine named Cook a “Jazz Marvel” and “Jazz Prodigy.” Shortly after, he was listed as one of the “Top Five Jazz Artists to Watch” (alongside Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, Butcher Brown, and Kris Bowers) in the June 2018 Issue of Ebony Magazine.

Outside of the jazz sphere, Cook has worked alongside Rihanna, at the 2016 VMAs and Solange Knowles contracting the horn players involved in her live shows at the Guggenheim, Radio City Music Hall, Afro Punk Festival, Panorama Festival, and Made in America Festival. Most recently, Cook was featured on Phony Ppl’s recent album Mosaic and performed with them for their NPR Tiny Desk performance. In addition, he was featured on Tom Misch’s 2018 U.S. domestic tour which started with two performances at Coachella and culminated with a very special Tiny Desk performance.

In 2018, Cook released his sophomore album entitled No Doubt, which debuted at number two on iTunes’ Jazz Charts and amassed six million streams on Spotify. Due to the album’s success, he embarked on his first international headlining tour in November 2018, performing at Tourcoing Jazz Festival, So What’s Next Jazz Festival, and the legendary Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club in London, UK. The following spring, he performed for Quincy Jones at The Shed for Steve McQueen’s Soundtrack of America. In summer of 2019, Cook performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival.

In spring of 2020, Cook released yet another project called Fire Sign which had amassed over one million streams in the first couple of weeks of its release. This record grabbed the attention of many national press outlets including NPR. Cook then created his very own NPR Tiny Desk at Home performance which featured music from his entire catalogue. Now having relocated to Los Angeles, Cook is very excited to continue expanding his musical concept, compositional, and production skills, and grow his community.


Music and spirituality have always been fully intertwined in the artistic vision of trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator, and activist Sean Jones. Singing and performing as a child with the church choir in his hometown of Warren, Ohio, Sean switched from the drums to the trumpet at the age of 10.

Jones is a musical chameleon and is comfortable in any musical setting no matter what the role or the genre. He is equally adept in being a member of an ensemble as he is at being a bandleader. Jones turned a six-month stint with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra into an offer from Wynton Marsalis for a permanent position as lead trumpeter, a post he held from 2004 until 2010. In 2015, Jones was tapped to become a member of the SFJAZZ Collective where he was a member until 2018. During this time, Jones managed to keep a core group of talented musicians together under his leadership forming the foundation for his groups that have produced and released eight recordings on the Mack Avenue Records label; the latest is his 2017 release, Sean Jones: Live from the Jazz Bistro.

Sean Jones has been prominently featured with a number of artists, recording and/or performing with many major figures in jazz, including Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson, and Marcus Miller. Jones was selected by Miller, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter for their Tribute to Miles tour in 2011.

Jones has also performed with the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown Symphony Orchestras, as well as Soulful Symphony in Baltimore and in a chamber group at the Salt Bay Chamber Festival.

Sean Jones is also an internationally recognized educator. He was recently named the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz at John Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute in Baltimore. Before coming to Peabody, he served as the Chair of the Brass Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.