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Institute of Jazz Studies Announces 2016 Berger-Carter Jazz Research Fellowships

November 17, 2016
Berger carter fund

Morroe Berger and Benny Carter, 1972.

Benny carter

Benny Carter performing at Rutgers in 1992. Credit: Mitchell Seidel

The Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) announces the awardees for the 2016 Berger-Carter Research Fellowships. Each year the institute awards 10 grants of $1,000 each for the purpose of visiting IJS in order to use its resources to further their research. 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.     

The pioneering Master’s Program in Jazz History and Research at Rutgers University–Newark was founded and is directed by Professor Lewis Porter. Program students receiving grants this year and their research topics are:

  • Cherise Renée Harris: Social Music is Jazz Evolved and Rediscovered: An Introspective Analysis of Jon Batiste and Stay Human
  • Leslie K. Haynes: The Nonagenarian - Roy Haynes: The First 45 Years
  • Paul N. Kahn: Bandleader/pianist Luis Russell
  • Matt Lavelle: Saxophonists Paul Gonsalves, Ornette Coleman, and Giuseppi Logan: common threads
  • Michael Li: Louis Armstrong’s and Earl Hines’ collaborations in the late 1920s

This year’s outside scholar-awardees (with their affiliations and topics) are: 

  • Michael Allemana (Musician/educator/PhD candidate, University of Chicago): Saxophonist Von Freeman
  • Lawrence Davies (Blues researcher/PhD candidate, King’s College, London): Blues singer Victoria Spivey within the context of contemporary race and gender politics
  • Matthew Nelson Holman (Musician/educator/DMA candidate, Manhattan School of Music): Compositional and improvisatory integration in the Jimmy Giuffre 3
  • Alyssa Mehnert (Conductor/educator/PhD candidate, University of Cincinnati Conservatory): McKinney’s Cotton Pickers - business practices, musical style, and popular reception
  • Brian F. Wright (Educator/PhD candidate (musicology), Case Western Reserve): The electric bass, jazz, and the stigmatization of musical practice

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, 135 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 early 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 90s. 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.

He enjoyed a close relationship with Rutgers and the Institute of Jazz Studies. In addition to creating the Berger-Carter endowment, he led a fundraising campaign for IJS 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. In 1992, he was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for Harlem Renaissance Suite, a work commissioned by the Institute of Jazz Studies with NEA support. It was recorded live by Carter with members of the Rutgers University Orchestra and the Rutgers Jazz Ensemble.

The Institute of Jazz Studies, the world’s foremost jazz archive, is part of the John Cotton Dana Library of 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 more information, contact Ed Berger at eberger@libraries.rutgers.edu.