It Must Be Now! Performance Program

Three images combined into a collage featuring Sean Jones on trumpet, Braxton Cook with a saxiphone, and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums.

Saturday, May 7, 2022 / 8:00pm
Kresge Auditorium, MIT Building W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Advancing social justice actions through music and media


Terri Lyne Carrington, Braxton Cook, and Sean Jones
with Mickalene Thomas

and performances by Vinson Fraley Jr., Val Jeanty, Jet Lewis (she/her), Wendel Patrick, Debo Ray, Andrew Renfroe, and Orlando Watson

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director & IMBN! initiative Creator/Leader

MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Laura Grill Jaye, Director

MIT Wind Ensemble
Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director
Kenneth Amis, Assistant Conductor

It Must Be Now! Producer
Susan Wilson

It Must Be Now! (IMBN!), brings together three leading musicians (Terri Lyne Carrington, Braxton Cook, and Sean Jones) to compose large-scale works 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.

Proceeds from the concert will be donated to Artists for Humanity (AFH), which is built on the philosophy that engagement in the creative process is a powerful force for social change, and that creative entrepreneurship is a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people. Bridging economic, racial and social divisions, AFH enriches urban communities by introducing young people’s creativity to the business community.


Freedom Jazz Dance

Eddie Harris (1934-96)
arr. Bill Stapleton

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Sabrina Drammis (G) &  Tony Scott (G)

Unlearning How to Save The Planet

Jet Lewis (she/her)

Jet Lewis (she/her), spoken word
Peter Godart (G), piano
Vinson Fraley Jr., dance

Come Sunday

Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
arr. Laura Grill Jaye

MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble

Arrangement World Premiere

Strangest Fruit

Orlando Watson

Orlando Watson, spoken word
Wendel Patrick, turntables and electronics

Before I Go

Dominique Eade (b. 1958)
arr. Laura Grill Jaye

MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Arrangement World Premiere

Fables of Faubus

Charles Mingus (1922-1979)
arr. Steve Slage

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Braxton Cook, saxophone
Sean Jones, trumpet
Wendel Patrick, turntables and electronics

Performed in honor of the Mingus Centennial



Terri Lyne Carrington (b. 1965)
Braxton Cook (b. 1991)
Sean Jones (b. 1978)

Terri Lyne Carrington, drums
Braxton Cook, saxophone
Sean Jones, trumpet


Terri Lyne Carrington
Braxton Cook
Sean Jones

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Sean Jones, trumpet
Wendel Patrick, turntables and electronics

World Premiere

Lost and Found

  1. The Answer
  2. Mona Lisa

Braxton Cook
arr. Kevin Costello ‘21

“It Must Be Now” written by Orlando Watson

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble 
MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
IMBN! String Orchestra
Braxton Cook, vocals, alto saxophone
Andrew Renfroe, guitar

Seen/Unseen: Explorations, Interrogations, and Resilience 

  1. Birth Of The Black Woman
  2. Strength & Ingenuity
  3. Resilience & Unity (Meditative)
  4. The Urgency Of Now!

Terri Lyne Carrington
arr. & orch.  Edmar Colón

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
IMBN! String Orchestra
MIT Wind Ensemble members
Terri Lyne Carrington, drums
Mickalene Thomas, VJ
Braxton Cook, saxophone
Vincent Fraley Jr., dance
Val Jeanty, DJ
Sean Jones, trumpet
Debo Ray, solo vocals

About the Program

Three compositions on themes of racial injustice and healing are premiering in tonight’s concert, which brings together all performers of the It Must Be Now! (IMBN!) initiative. This unique immersive music and multimedia event features the work of three leading jazz artists of our time: Terri Lyne Carrington, Braxton Cook, and Sean Jones—and live VJ’ing by renowned visual artist and filmmaker Mickalene Thomas. The compositions explore themes such as the resilience of Black women, the concept of Pangea (an ancient supercontinent) as an Afrofuturism vehicle, and the value of healing as we continue to process the collective trauma of the pandemic and racial injustices. 

Carrington, Cook, Jones, and Thomas will collaborate with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, MIT Wind Ensemble, other student musicians from MIT and New England Conservatory, and an array of artists including arranger/director/vocalist, MIT’s Laura Grill Jaye, arranger/orchestrator Edmar Colón, dancer Vinson Fraley, Jr., electronic music composer/percussionist/turntablist Val Jeanty, aka Val-Inc, music producer/pianist/turntablist Wendel Patrick, vocalist Debo Ray, guitarist Andrew Renfroe, and lyricist/spoken word poet/vocalist Orlando Watson.

Formed during the summer of 2020 and led by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr., IMBN! launched in the spring of 2021 and has since presented seven online events, including an IAP series engaging the MIT community in conversations around how these artists incorporate social and racial justice into their compositions.

Proceeds from the concert will be donated to Artists for Humanity (AFH), which is built on the philosophy that engagement in the creative process is a powerful force for social change, and that creative entrepreneurship is a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people. Bridging economic, racial and social divisions, AFH enriches urban communities by introducing young people’s creativity to the business community.

Performers and Contributors

Terri Lyne Carrington

Terri Lyne Carrington. Image credit: Tracy Love.

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.

Edmar Colón

Edmar Colon. Courtesy of the artist.

Puerto Rican born Edmar Colón was awarded the prestigious Presidential Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music with a dual major in Performance and Classical Composition. While there, he was a student at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute directed by Danilo Pérez and Marco Pignataro, and went on to receive his Masters degree in Global Studies.

Colón has performed throughout the world, including at the Detroit Jazz Festival, Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, and Monterey Jazz Festival, among others. Recently, he performed at the Kennedy Center for the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival, as well as the Abbey Lincoln tribute tour with GRAMMY-award winners Terri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater.  Colón has performed with artists such as Bob “Rakalam” Moses, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, Danilo Pérez, Danny Rivera, Hal Crook, Kenny Werner, Lionel Louke, John Michel Pilc, Patti Austin, Ledisi, Judith Hill, David Sanchez, Arturo Sandoval, George Garzone, Luis Enrique and Ivan Lins, among other notable artists. 

In 2016, Colón was awarded the Latino 30 Under 30 Award New England from the El Mundo newspaper.  He was also awarded first prize at the “Keep An Eye” International Jazz Awards in Amsterdam as a part of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. In 2017, he was honored in the annual Patron Saint festivities of his hometown of Coamo, Puerto Rico.  

As a composer, arranger and orchestrator, the last few years have been very busy for Colón.  His work has included being the copyist for Wayne Shorter’s new opera, Iphigenia; being commissioned to write an orchestral piece for the Detroit Jazz Festival Symphony Orchestra honoring pianist Geri Allen; writing orchestrations for the title track of Esperanza Spalding’s Grammy Award winning album, 12 Little Spells; copying/arranging for the Kennedy Center Honors Award ceremony honoring Wayne Shorter, and arranging/orchestrating for Terri Lyne Carrington’s acclaimed GRAMMY-nominated album Waiting Game.  In October of 2019, Edmar arranged and orchestrated a commission consisting of 16 orchestral pieces for the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center celebrating the centennial of Nat King Cole on show entitled Nat King Cole at 100. Currently Colón is working on original material for his debut album. Most recently, Edmar is working on a commission for the world renowned Boston POPS. 


Braxton Cook

Braxton Cook. Image credit: Tom Van Scoyoc.

Braxton Cook. Image credit: Tom Van Scoyoc.

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.


Vinson Fraley Jr.

Vinson Fraley. Courtesy of the artist.

Vinson Fraley Jr. was born in Statesville, North Carolina and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He began his formal training in voice and drama at DeKalb School of the Arts. He started dance at the age of 14 at DanceMakers of Atlanta. Fraley received his BFA in dance from NYU Tisch in 2015. During his final year of college he became a member of Kyle Abraham’s A.I.M (Abraham.In.Motion) and later joined the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company in 2017. Fraley has been a frequent collaborator with Carrie Mae Weems. He collaborated with Sterling Ruby and the Metropolitan Museum for the In America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibition. Fraley teamed up with artist Janet Biggs in a work made for Arts at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). He was a part of Damien Jalet and Kohei Nawa’s latest production Planet [wanderer] which premiered at the Théâtre National de Chaillot. Fraley has also performed at Frieze Art Fair under the direction of Stephen Galloway. He is currently working alongside international choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith and the American Modern Opera Company on a new creation. Most recently Fraley debuted a duet he created for himself and Sara Mearns at the Joyce Theatre. In April he also premiered a new work as one of Harlem Stage’s emerging artists. 

He has had the opportunity to present solo works in the US, Germany, and France. This past summer he debuted a new work at The Watermill Center. Fraley’s choreography and movement direction have been seen in videos by Calvin Klein, Serpentwithfeet, Vogue, Nike, and Pattern Beauty.  Fraley contributed an original music composition for the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Company’s newest work titled Afterwardsness

His work has been written about and featured in various publications including The New York Times, Interview Magazine, has appeared on the cover of V Magazine, I-d Magazine, Highsnobiety, Document Journal, Dance Magazine, etc.


Laura Grill Jaye

Born and raised outside of Chicago, Laura Grill Jaye grew up with an appetite for picking up instruments… and the inability to put them down. In seemingly no time this translated to a personal investment in the study and creation of new music. Laura traded the heartland for the coast and moved to Boston in 2008. In the company of Crooked Still, Joy Kills Sorrow and Sarah Jarosz, Grill found her voice at the New England Conservatory. Amongst the crowd of conservatory musicians, Laura assembled her eclectic band of Tucker Antell (Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone), Matt Consul (Viola, Violin, Mandolin) and Brad Barrett (Bass, Cello). Although clearly infused with Jazz and Classical sensibilities the Laura Grill Band sound is undeniably folk. Reflective lyrics are combined with tastes of chamber music, improvisation, and four-part harmonies to create a sound that is uncatalogued. “Never Before,” the debut album from the Laura Grill Band, was released to much acclaim. The collection of intimate songs was recorded one-hundred percent live in a picturesque snowy cabin in New Hampshire.

For more information, visit or

Frederick Harris, Jr.

Frederick Harris, Jr. is the Director of Wind and Jazz Ensembles at MIT, where he serves as Music Director of the MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Coordinator, overseeing jazz chamber music programs including three combos, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and the Emerson Jazz Scholars Program. Harris is also the creator and director of It Must Be Now!, a project creating music and visual art on themes of racial justice.

For more information, visit

IMBN! String Orchestra

Justin Park *
Alyssa Barker º
Emma Boyd Δ
Elizabeth Taylor º
Annica McDougall º
Sarah Campbell Δ
Ziming-Jimmy Wang Δ
Njord Fossnes Δ
Sarah Zahorodni
Tanya Zhmendak ‡
Brian Urra º
Ángela Varo º

Susan Kong *
Philip Rawlinson Δ
Chiau-Rung Chen Δ
Aidan Garrison Δ
Roselyn Hobbs

Δ New England Conservatory of Music
º Berklee College of Music
‡ Longy School of Music

Brice Huang *
Max Tan *
Valerie Chen *
Jiho Seo Δ
Yi-I Stephanie Yang Δ
Eva Sanchez-Vegazo Δ
Jonah Kernis Δ

String Bass
Diego Martinez Δ
Lillian Young
Lindy Billhardt

Jet Lewis (she/her)

Jet Lewis (she/her) believes that creating inclusive and safe access to the environment is a vital component of the conservation of outdoor spaces. Jet received her B.S in Environmental Biology from SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, NY before completing her Masters in Conservation Medicine from Tufts University. She has worked in wildlife rehabilitation, outdoor education and used her passion for the earth to travel across the United States and internationally – always gaining new perspectives. She currently works as a veterinary technician with non-traditional pets such as reptiles, birds, and small mammals. In her free time she enjoys hiking, kayaking, visiting national and state parks, as well as cuddling her three-legged cat, Maya and her brother, Charlie.

Sean Jones

Sean Jones. Photo by Conrad Lewis Charles.

Sean Jones. Photo by Conrad Lewis Charles.

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, Jones 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 6-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, he has 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, the latest is his 2017 release Sean Jones: Live from the Jazz Bistro.

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. He 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, Jones served as the Chair of the Brass Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Jones is also the Artistic Director for Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz program, which will release their debut album next month and tour this summer.

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (MIT FJE)

Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director

Sara Simpson (G) CA

Erik Helstrom (G) NJ

Alto Saxophone
*Andrew Li ‘25 NE
Hannah Savoldy ‘22 FL

Tenor Saxophone
Savoldy Savoldy ‘22 TX
Isaac Taylor ‘25 DC

Bari Saxophone
Brian Xiao ‘23 PA

Daniel Brown ‘25 SC
Emeka Echezona ‘24 NJ
German Espinosa ‘22 CA
Alejandro Gonzalez-Ayala ‘25 TX
*Miles Kaming-Thanassi ‘23 NY

Aaron Buede KY
Jeremy Duke AL
Michael Gerace  OH

Bass Trombone
Ethan LaBelle ‘23 AZ

Peter Godart (G) NJ
Mike Jiang (G) Switzerland

Richard Oates ‘18 MA 

Evan Boothe ‘25 OK
Dom Skinner (G) MA

Diego Barros ‘25 FL

Alby Musaelian (Harvard) CO

Axel Vera (G) Puerto Rico

The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (MIT FJE) was founded in 1963 by Boston jazz icon Herb Pomeroy and led since 1999 by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. This advanced 18 to 20-member big band/jazz ensemble is comprised of outstanding MIT undergraduate and graduate students studying a wide range of disciplines. An advanced combo is formed from the membership of the MIT FJE. MIT FJE performs traditional and contemporary jazz ensemble literature, including student compositions and new works written for the MIT FJE by major jazz composers. Improvisation is a prominent part of the MIT FJE experience. MIT FJE has released five professional recordings including its major jazz label debut on Sunnyside in 2015, Infinite Winds, which received a five-star review from DownBeat and was chosen by the magazine as one of its “Best Albums of 2015 Five-Star Masterpieces.”

The FJE has a long history of performing original music by MIT students and composers from around the world. Since 2001, it has presented over 50 world premieres. Among others, Mark Harvey, Herb Pomeroy, Jamshied Sharifi, Ran Blake, John Harbison, Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Gunther and George Schuller, Kenny Werner, Don Byron, Steve Turre, Magali Souriau, Guillermo Klein, Chris Cheek, Miguel Zenón, Dominique Eade, and Luciana Souza have collaborated with the MIT FJE. In January of 2019 the FJE participated in a highly successful cultural exchange, touring Puerto Rico with Miguel Zenón, presenting concerts in various venues and also STEM workshops in middle and high schools.

Learn about the MIT FJE’s collaboration with Grammy-winner Jacob Collier in this Emmy-winning documentary. Watch the Emmy-nominated documentary The Great Clarinet Summit, featuring MIT FJE. See an overview of MIT FJE’s recent tour of Puerto Rico. Watch MIT FJE and Sean Jones perform an original composition by MIT student Alan Osmundson and Warren Wolf perform Heal! by MIT pianist-composer Peter Godart. MIT FJE participated in MIT’s 2021 virtual Commencement, performing Diary of a Pandemic Year. 

For more information, visit 

MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble (VJE)

Laura Grill Jaye, Director

Adanna Abraham-Igwe ’24 – CA
Alex Boccon-Gibod (G) – CA
Quinn Brodsky ’22 – TX
Richard Colwell ’21 WI
Autumn Geil ’21 – CA
Emily Huang ’22 – WA
Elsa Itambo ’22 -IL
Emily Jin ’25 NY

Gabe Kane ’21 – VA
Junhee Lee ’22 – IA
Sharon Opara-Ndudu ’22 – Nigeria
Michael Peters (G) – IN
Brindha Rathinasabapathi ’24 – FL
Omar Santiago Reyes ’22 – Puerto Rico
Claire Walsh, Econ. Dept. CO

The MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble (VJE) was founded by Institute Professor John Harbison in the spring of 2011 as the first and only vocal jazz performance group at the Institute. Boston-based vocalist-arranger-composer Laura Grill Jaye is the current director and coach of VJE, which has quickly risen to high recognition not only on campus but throughout Boston. Performance opportunities have included a professional recording with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble of the MIT school song and “A Rhumba for Rafael Reif,” as well as an appearance with the Boston Pops at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Professor Harbison has arranged many pieces for VJE over the years.

VJE’s debut recording Vocal Jazz at MIT: Store-Bought Hair, was released in 2015. Past collaborations have included performances with Jacob Collier, Dominique Eade, and Luciana Souza. Under the direction of Laura Grill Jaye, VJE has participated and earned high praise in a special residency with Audra McDonald, and has collaborated and recorded with The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble.

VJE sings ensemble and solo jazz music. It performs with jazz instrumentalists on and off campus, including a concert in Killian Hall at the end of each semester. The ensemble also offers members opportunities for arranging and songwriting. The MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble is coordinated and overseen by Dr. Fred Harris.

For more information, visit

MIT Wind Ensemble (MITWE)

Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director
Kenneth Amis, Assistant Conductor

Vincent Lin ’24 NE
Charlotte Wickert ’23 CO

Crista Falk ’23 ID
Angelica Chin ‘24 NJ

Teddy Warner (G) NM

Bass Clarinet
Richard Chen ’25 MA

Aura Trevino, MA

Tenor Saxophone
Antoine Vigouroux (Harvard) France

Laura Koemmpel ’19 CA
Timothy Nguyen ’24 CA

Linnaea Uliassi ’24 AK

Frederick Ajisafe ’23 FL

Arianna Otoo ’25 NJ
Rila Shishido ’23 Japan
Frank Wang ’24 NJ
Simone Ovsey
Tats Daniel ‘20 IL

Founded by Music Director Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. in the fall of 1999, the MIT Wind Ensemble (MITWE) is one of the most innovative ensembles of its kind. Comprised primarily of outstanding MIT undergraduates and graduate students studying a wide range of disciplines within science, engineering, and the humanities. Repertoire includes outstanding traditional works and new music for full wind ensemble, chamber winds, brass ensemble, percussion ensemble, and woodwind ensembles. MITWE has commissioned 45 original works from many prominent composers. MIT Affiliated Artist, renowned composer, and tuba player of the Empire Brass, Kenneth Amis, is the Assistant Conductor of MITWE. 

MITWE has been featured on NPR and was the subject of the 2014 Emmy-winning documentary Awakening: Evoking the Arab Spring Through Music, aired on PBS. MITWE is also featured in the 2019 Emmy-nominated documentary The Great Clarinet Summit, and Call and Response: Creativity at MIT.  MITWE’s joint recording with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, Infinite Winds, received a five-star review from DownBeat and was chosen by the magazine as one of its “Best Albums of 2015 Five-Star Masterpieces” — the first such recognition of its kind for a collegiate wind ensemble. The Boston Globe called the recording “one of the most compelling of 2015.”  

Throughout its 21-year history, MITWE has collaborated with elementary, middle and high school students throughout Massachusetts. In March of 2019, MITWE embarked on its first tour, spending a week in the Dominican Republic, presenting four concerts, many STEAM presentations for middle, high school and college students, and premiering the eco-music piece In Praise Of The Humpback.   

In May of 2020, MITWE had the honor of opening MIT’s virtual Commencement with To The Light, To The Flame. MITWE also participated in MIT’s 2021 virtual Commencement, performing Diary Of A Pandemic Year.

For more information, visit

Wendel Patrick

Wendel Patrick. Courtesy of the artist.

Wendel Patrick has been referred to as “David Foster Wallace reincarnated as a sound engineer” by Urbanite Magazine and as “wildly talented” by the Baltimore Sun. He has been referred to by XLR8R magazine as “a hip-hop producer that could easily make any fan of Squarepusher, Boards of Canada, or Madlib flip out.” The alter-ego of classical and jazz pianist Kevin Gift, Wendel Patrick has made a name for himself internationally as a music producer of remarkable vision, skill, and talent. His five albums: Sound, Forthcoming, JDWP, Passage, and Travel were all produced without the use of sampling, with Patrick playing every note of every instrument. What is perhaps most astounding and perplexing to listeners is that there are actually no instruments…he crafts all of the instruments, and plays every note, electronically. 

Equally at home performing on stage with his band, behind two turntables, beatboxing, improvising, or playing a Mozart Concerto on stage with orchestra, Patrick has toured Europe on several occasions and performed throughout the world with renowned spoken word artist and poet Ursula Rucker (The Roots, 4 Hero). In 2014, Patrick traveled to Australia as a guest lecturer, speaking about music production and entrepreneurship in the arts at The Australian Institute of Music in both Sydney and Melbourne. In 2011, Patrick co- founded the Baltimore Boom Bap Society, with Erik Spangler (DJ Dubble8) that performs monthly improvised hip hop shows with hand-picked musicians and emcees. The group’s collaborative performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra of Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale was recently named “Best Mesmerizing Performance of 2016” by Baltimore Magazine. Patrick’s music has also been heard across the country on NPR stations, most notably on Out of the Blocks, an award-winning radio documentary program he co-produces with radio producer Aaron Henkin for NPR affiliate WYPR that has been featured by the Third Coast International Audio Festival and Hearing Voices as well as on the BBC. 

Recent performances included a new collaboration between the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Boom Bap Society, on which Patrick’s orchestral compositions were performed. An avid photographer and videographer, his photography has been exhibited in several art galleries including the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Ralph Arnold Gallery in Chicago. Patrick shoots all of the accompanying documentary photography and videography for Out of the Blocks. 

Wendel Patrick/Kevin Gift majored in both music and political science at Emory University and earned his M.M. in Piano Performance as a scholarship student at the Northwestern University School of Music in Evanston Illinois. Patrick is a winner of the 2015 Baker Artist Awards’ Mary Sawyers Baker grand prize and was a member of the faculty at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland from 2001 to 2013 teaching piano, introduction to music theory, music history and electronic music production. He has taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art and at Loyola University Chicago where he was Department of Fine and Performing Arts Guest Artist- in- Residence for 2019. 

Patrick is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Music Engineering & Technology at The Peabody Music Conservatory – Johns Hopkins University where he teaches “Hip Hop Music Production: History and Practice”, the first course of its kind to be taught at a major traditional music conservatory anywhere in the United States. He has recently been named as the new host of “Artworks” on Maryland Public Television/PBS. Patrick is currently a 2021-2022 Harvard Nasir Jones Fellow at The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.


Debo Ray

Debo Ray. Courtesy of the artist.

A Grammy-nominated musician and Berklee Assistant Professor, Deborah Pierre, who performs as Debo Ray, is a leading vocalist in Boston and New York’s jazz and world music circles. A composer at heart, she is best known for the unique way she embraces and expresses the music she creates, as well as for her style of blending theory with emotion in her performances. A spirited and cooperative collaborator, she has shared stages with multiple Grammy winners, including Bobby McFerrin, Esperanza Spalding, Antonio Sanchez, and Terri Lyne Carrington; performed at top venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Newport Jazz Festival; and has toured internationally. She believes her mission is to spread the joy of music without compromising skill and nuance, and as part of that mission, she aims to create a sound that feels both relatable and universal.


Andrew Renfroe

Andrew Renfroe. Courtesy of the artist.

Andrew Renfroe is best known as a first-call guitarist for artists including Braxton Cook, Carmen Lundy, Ben Williams, Tia Fuller, Ned Goold and Jonathan Barber. A native of Jupiter, Florida, now based in Los Angeles by way of New York City, he is a bandleader of growing stature whose 2020 EP Dark Grey and 2021 full-length debut Run in the Storm have brought his interpretive and compositional gifts and complex yet highly melodic playing into stark relief.

His guitar influences are decidedly rootsier and more blues-based, less liquid and ethereal, than what is common in today’s young jazz guitar field — qualities reflected on Small Vacation, his intimate quasi-acoustic duo set with bassist Luke Sellick, released in November 2020. Renfroe has also made vital contributions to recordings by Carmen Lundy (the Grammy-nominated Modern Ancestors), saxophonist Braxton Cook (Fire Sign, Somewhere In Between, No Doubt), pianist/keyboardist Taber Gable (Hidden Driveways) and drummer Curtis Nowosad (eponymous).

Renfroe holds an MM from the Juilliard Jazz Studies program (2016) and a Bachelor of Music (2013) from the renowned Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz in Hartford, Connecticut. He attended Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program in 2013 as well. His projects as a leader reflect his diverse influences: a reimagining of Delta blues legend and originator Son House’s music through the aesthetic of the John Coltrane Quartet; an exploration of traditional music from Burkina Faso and Mali in a modern jazz quartet setting; inventive arrangements of bluegrass, country, roots music and hymns; and arrangements of Olivier Messiaen’s magisterial works for organ. All of these projects were presented at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Renfroe’s additional sideman credits, a testament to his range and versatility, include Steve Davis, Nat Reeves, Ugonna Okegwo, Javon Jackson, Terrace Martin, Mike LeDonne, JD Allen, David Weiss and Point of Departure, Jonathan Pinson, Arnold Lee and countless others.


Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas in a self-portrait. Credit: Mickalene Thomas for The New York Times.

Mickalene Thomas (lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) makes paintings, collages, photography, video, and installations that draw on art history and popular culture to create a contemporary vision of female sexuality, beauty, and power. Blurring the distinction between object and subject, concrete and abstract, real and imaginary, Thomas constructs complex portraits, landscapes, and interiors in order to examine how identity, gender, and sense-of-self are informed by the ways women (and “feminine” spaces) are represented in art and popular culture.

Thomas received a B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY in 2000 and an M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT in 2002. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO (forthcoming, 2019); The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL (2019); The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD (2019); Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA (2019); Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France (2019); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON (2018); The Dayton Art Institute, OH (2018); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2018); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA (2018); Pomona College Museum of Art (2018), Claremont, CA (2017); Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA (2017); Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA (2017); Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, Atlanta, GA (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); Aspen Art Museum, CO (2016); Aperture Foundation, New York (2016); George Eastman House, Rochester, NY (2014); Brooklyn Museum, New York (2012-13); Santa Monica Museum of Art (2012); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2012); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2011); and La Conservera Contemporary Art Centre, Ceuti, Spain (2009). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include Orlando, Aperture, New York, NY (2019);You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experience, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC (2018); Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2018); The Color Line: African American Artists and the Civil Rights in the United States, Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France (2016); SHE: International Women Artists, Long Museum, Shanghai (2016); No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, traveled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. (2015); 30 Americans, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2011), which has traveled extensively around the United States (2011-2017, ongoing); and Americans Now, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2010). Thomas’s work is in numerous international public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA PS1, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Yale University Art Collection, New Haven, CT; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Thomas has been awarded multiple prizes and grants, including the USA Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow (2015); Anonymous Was A Woman Award (2013); Brooklyn Museum Asher B. Durand Award (2012); and the Timerhi Award for Leadership in the Arts (2010).

Orlando Watson

Orlando Watson. Courtesy of the artist.

Cleveland, Ohio native Orlando Watson has established himself as a preeminent lyricist who’s soulful, baritone voice is known to weave through words with uncanny rhythmic delivery. In 2015 Watson was awarded the prestigious “Kente Cloth” by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at Ohio State University alongside acclaimed political commentator, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. Watson’s 2017 début EP (Everything’s Personal) peaked at #18 on iTunes R&B/Soul charts, which led him to open for Lalah Hathaway and Chantae Cann’s respective tours in 2018. His follow up, full length album (Corner Stories) was released in December 2021 and peaked at #14 on iTunes top 200 R&B/Soul charts upon its release on Watson’s independent label “Well Said Records”.

Watson has recorded with Latin Grammy award winner Linda Briceño, John Clayton, Dominick Farinacci, Braxton Cook, Damien Sneed, and Bobby Sparks II of Snarky Puppy to name a few. His knack for storytelling led him to co-write Terence Blanchard’s “Our Voices: Democracy Revisited” suite, which was live-streamed on NPR’s “Jazz Night in America” hosted by acclaimed bassist Christian McBride. Watson was selected as 1 of the top 8 national finalists to compete at the 2019 “Jazz in the Gardens” poetry slam in Miami, Florida. His poetry has been published in Linden Avenue Literary Journal as well as Five 2 One Magazine and he currently serves as the Associate Director for the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, Ohio. Watson’s passion for faith, family, community and culture are always reflected in his art, as he sees himself as a bridge between social barriers built to further divide humankind.


Presenting Organizations

MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) 

CAST creates new opportunities for art, science, and technology to thrive as interrelated, mutually informing modes of exploration, knowledge, and discovery. CAST’s multidisciplinary platform presents performing and visual arts programs, supports research projects for artists working with science and engineering labs, and sponsors symposia, classes, workshops, design studios, lectures, and publications. The Center is funded in part by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information, please contact or visit

MIT Music and Theater Arts (MTA)

The Music and Theater Arts Section of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences annually affords 1,500 students per year the opportunity to experience the unique language and process of the performing arts. Faculty and teaching staff, informed by their ongoing professional activities, help students understand art’s demand for rigor and discipline and its non-quantitative standards of excellence and beauty.

For more information, please contact or visit

Future Performances: Join us again!

Visit and for more information about upcoming performances, including:

Pianist Maki Namekawa in a leather jacket looking into the camera.

Maki Namekawa: 21st Century Piano
Friday, May 13, 2022 / 7:30pm
MIT Kresge Auditorium

Maki Namekawa, a leading pianist dedicated to exploring new works by composers on a global scale, comes to MIT’s Kresge Auditorium to perform the world premieres of Joe Hisaishi’s Toccata No. 1 and Evan Ziporyn’s “Music for ‘365 Stories I Want To Tell You Before We Both Die – Part One,” and the New England premieres of Philip Glass’s Piano Sonata (which was composed specifically for her) and Keith Jarrett’s Ritual.

The Hisaishi sonata was co-commissioned by MIT’s Center for Art, Science & Technology and Ars Electronica Center.

Special thanks to Laura Grill Jaye, Kenneth Amis, the staff of MTA (Luis Cuco Daglio, Michelle Carmichael, Lauren Dickel, Andy Wilds, Jacob Means), CAST and Arts at MIT (Lydia Brosnahan, Heidi Erickson, Rayna Yun Chou, Liz Keller-Tripp, Ethan Nevidomsky, Leah Talatinian, Susan Wilson, Directors Leila Kinney and Evan Ziporyn), Joshua Higgason, Cici Mao, Brandon John, Max Di Martino, Chaz Loews and Ice 9 Productions, Anthony DiBartolo, Susan Grogan, Laird Nolan and Studio 125, Clayton Hainsworth and MIT Video Productions, and all of the students and student leaders of MITWE, MIT FJE, and MIT VJE.