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Institute of Jazz Studies Announces Berger-Carter Jazz Research Awards

November 6, 2015
Benny Carter with Rutgers Students

Benny Carter conducts a workshop for Rutgers Jazz Program students, 1986. Photo by Ed Berger.

The Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) has announced this year’s recipients of the Morroe Berger – Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund grants.

Each year the Institute awards up to ten grants of $1,000 each.  Half of the awards are designated for students in the Rutgers-Newark Master’s Program in Jazz History and Research and half are awarded to scholars from other institutions or unaffiliated researchers for the purpose of visiting IJS in order to use its resources to further their research.

The Master’s Program in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers-Newark, founded and directed by Professor Lewis Porter, is the only program of its kind.  Program students receiving grants this year and their research topics are:

  • Andrea Jackson-Alexander: The Jazz Scene in Cleveland: The 1960’s to Present
  • Dylan Lagamma: The Personal and Musical Life of Trumpeter Booker Little
  • Zach Streeter: Guitarist Jimmy Raney
  • Andrew A. Vogel: Kenny Wheeler’s Life and Music
  • Elise Wood: The Life and Music of Pianist John Hicks

This year’s outside scholar-awardees, along with their affiliations and topics, are:

  • Rashida K. Braggs, assistant professor, Africana studies, Williams College: In the Shadow of Josephine: Migrating Jazz Women Negotiate Racial and National Identity
  • Lucas Henry, PhD candidate, musicology, University of Illinois-Urbana: The Experiences of American Jazz Composer and Big-band Leader Thad Jones in Scandinavia
  • Brian Lefresne, PhD candidate, literary studies, University of Guelph: A Critical Examination of the Intersection of Race, Class, and Art in the Life and Works of Jazz Musician and Poet Sun Ra
  • Zachary T. Wiggins, PhD candidate, musicology, Arizona State University: The Role of the Accordion in Jazz
  • Deanna Witkowski, pianist/composer: Jazz in Catholicism in the Late 1960s/Early 1970s

The endowment was established in 1987 with a gift by composer/arranger/instrumentalist Benny Carter (1907-2003) in memory of Morroe Berger.  Berger, a close friend and Carter’s biographer, was a professor of sociology at Princeton University until his death in 1981.  Carter’s initial gift was matched by the Berger family, who asked that Carter’s name be added to the Fund’s title.  Carter, his wife Hilma, and other donors have regularly added to the endowment over the years.  To date, 130 awards have been given to scholars and students worldwide working in a variety of disciplines, including jazz history, musicology, bibliography, and discography.

Benny Carter first came to prominence in the late 1920s and 1930s when his alto saxophone improvisations helped set the standard for the instrument and his arrangements helped chart the course for the Swing Era.  His career continued into the new millennium.  In the 1940s, he became a noted film and television composer--one of the first African Americans to penetrate the Hollywood studios.  He led a parallel career as a jazz bandleader and soloist on both alto sax and trumpet, touring worldwide into his nineties. Carter received many awards, including the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honors, several Grammys, and honorary doctorates from Princeton, Harvard, the New England Conservatory, and Rutgers.

Carter enjoyed a close relationship with Rutgers and IJS.  In addition to creating the Berger-Carter endowment, he led a fundraising campaign for the Institute and served as artist-in-residence for the Jazz Program at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, where he delivered the commencement address in 1991.

The Institute of Jazz Studies, the world’s foremost jazz archive, is part of the John Cotton Dana Library at Rutgers University-Newark.  More information about the Berger-Carter awards, as well as a complete list of previous award recipients, may be found on the IJS website.

For further information, contact Ed Berger, special projects consultant for the Institute of Jazz Studies.