Select master artists in jazz

Shelton "Shelly" Berg | Shelton “Shelly” Berg is Dean and Professor of Music at the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He is widely acclaimed for his energetic and innovative approaches to performance, composition and pedagogy. A Steinway piano artist, Berg has performed and lectured throughout the world and has numerous arrangements, compositions and texts in publications. Berg was previously the McCoy/Sample Professor of Jazz Studies at USC Thornton School of Music and a past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). In 2000, the Los Angeles Times named him one of three “Educators for the Millennium.”


Gerald Clayton | Over the course of eight years, with three albums as a leader, several studio projects as a sideman, and countless worldwide performances, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton has established himself as a leading figure in the up-and-coming generation of jazz artists who are fluent in the range of styles that make up today´s jazz lexicon. A three-time Grammy nominee, Clayton has been hailed by The New York Times for his "huge, authoritative presence." 

John Clayton | A Grammy Award-winning composer, arranger, conductor, producer and bassist, John Clayton has toured with the Monty Alexander Trio and the Count Basie Orchestra as well as taught at The Royal Conservatory, The Hague, Holland, UCLA and the USC Thornton School of Music. He has collaborated with Paul McCartney, Yo-Yo Ma and Diana Krall among many others, and also directs the educational components associated with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Centrum Festival and Vail Jazz Party.

Jimmy Heath | Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant instrumentalist and a magnificent composer and arranger. He has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the last 50 years, from Howard McGhee and Dizzy Gillespie to Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. During his career, Jimmy Heath has performed on more than 100 record albums including seven with The Heath Brothers and twelve as a leader. Heath has also written more than 125 compositions, many of which have become jazz standards and have been recorded by other artists including Art Farmer, Cannonball Adderley, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie J.J Johnson and Dexter Gordon.  Heath has also composed extended works—seven suites and two string quartets. Jimmy was Professor of Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. He maintains an extensive performance schedule and continues to conduct workshops throughout the United States and abroad. 

Wynton Marsalis | Renowned jazz musician, trumpeter, composer, bandleader, advocate for the arts, and educator Wynton Marsalis has helped propel jazz to the forefront of American culture. His many honors include nine Grammy awards. He was also the first jazz artist to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music. A co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis serves as its Managing and Artistic Director.

Christian McBride | With a career now blazing into its third decade, four-time Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride has become one of the most requested, most recorded, and most respected figures in the music world today. In 2000 the lessons of the road came together in the formation of what would become his longest-running project, the Christian McBride Band. In 2009 McBride began focusing this same energy on the debut of his critically-acclaimed Inside Straight quintet, and again with the Christian McBride Big Band. He is also a respected educator and advocate, first noted in 1997 when he spoke on former President Bill Clinton's town hall meeting "Racism in the Performing Arts." He has since been named Artistic Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions (2000), co-director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (2005), and the Second Creative Chair for Jazz of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2005). Currently he hosts and produces “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on SiriusXM satellite radio and National Public Radio’s “Jazz Night in America,” a weekly radio show and multimedia collaboration between WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center, showcasing outstanding live jazz from across the country. 

Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy | Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy is professor of music in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. He has released several CDs and has authored or co-authored several books. He is a consultant to the Grammy Foundation educational programs, director of the National Grammy Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Combo and a consultant for the Walt Disney All-American Summer College Jazz Ensemble. Dr. McCurdy has worked with many jazz artists including Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Dr. Billy Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Arturo Sandoval, and Lionel Hampton.

Jason Moran | 1993 YoungArts Winner in Jazz | Jason Moran is a jazz pianist and composer. He is musical adviser for jazz at the Kennedy Center. Moran debuted as a band leader with the 1999 album Soundtrack to Human Motion. Since then, he has garnered much critical acclaim and won a number of awards for his playing and compositional skills, which combine elements of stride piano, avant-garde jazz, classical music, hip hop, and spoken word, among others. In 2010, he was named a MacArthur Fellow.

YoungArts would also like to thank our extraordinary group of discipline coordinators, national reviewers and selection panelists in the Jazz discipline.