Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors
Mao Sone, trumpet; John Egizi, trombone; Edmar Colón, saxophone; Witness Matlou, piano; Jared Henderson, bass; Jharis Yokley, drums
The Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI) is a performance program designed to foster creativity and musicianship through various musical disciplines, with pianist and composer Danilo Pérez as its artistic director. The BGJI provides a comprehensive contemporary music environment where students are given opportunities to explore their creativity to the highest level possible, advance the power of music as a tool for the betterment of society, and connect musical creative thinking with the natural environment.
The BGJI is designed to help instrumentalists and vocalists with unique talent and wide-ranging musical interests achieve their artistic goals through an experiential and interdisciplinary approach. Developing artists who seek to evolve to the highest levels—as both musicians and human beings—will find a true home in the BGJI environment, which will provide both the support and range of challenges necessary for sustained creative growth.
Students accepted to the Berklee Global Jazz Institute may pursue a bachelor's degree or diploma in performance or a two-year artist's diploma. In addition to being mentored by and playing with jazz masters, students will travel together and perform at festivals in Panama, Puerto Rico, and other locales. BGJI students will come together in new musical collectives that will record original material in the studio.
Service learning will be integral to the program. "Our students have been given great musical talent," says Marco Pignataro, BGJI managing director. "We'll teach that, as artists, they are responsible to positively affect their communities." BGJI students will give back to the community by working with children, teaching music in the Boston area through Berklee's City Music program and in other cities during performance trips. The program will also provide opportunities to connect creative thinking in music with the restoration of nature. In general, students will develop the skills needed to become role models for a new generation of musicians and to inspire leadership in others.
Danilo Pérez ’88, Artistic Director
The Grammy Award–winning pianist and composer Danilo Pérez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time. In just over a decade, his distinctive blend of Pan-American jazz, covering the music of the Americas, folkloric, and world music, has attracted critical acclaim and loyal audiences. Whether leading his own ensembles or touring with renowned jazz masters (Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes, Steve Lacy), Pérez is making a decidedly fresh imprint on contemporary music, guided, as always, by his love for jazz. Born in Panama in 1965, Pérez went to Berklee in the 1980s and has led his own groups since the early 1990s. As a bandleader, he has earned three Grammy nominations for his ebullient and innovative recordings. Pérez serves as the ambassador of goodwill for Unicef, cultural ambassador of Panama, president and founder of the Panama Jazz Festival, and a faculty member at Berklee College of Music. He has worked as a music educator for more than 20 years.
Marco Pignataro, Managing Director
Marco Pignataro is a multi-talented saxophonist, composer, educator, and jazz columnist. A native of Bologna, Italy, Pignataro has performed extensively across Europe and the Americas, sharing stages and clinics with artists such as Eddie Gomez, Oscar Stagnaro, Danilo Pérez, Arturo Sandoval, Ray Vega, Kenwood Dennard, Antonio Sanchez, Paquito D'Rivera, Billy Drummond, Clark Terry, Billy Hart, and Jon Faddis. Pignataro has, until recently, been the director of the Jazz and Caribbean Music Department and Jazz Saxophone chair at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. At the conservatory, he developed the jazz saxophone curriculum, cofounded the bachelor of music in jazz and Caribbean music studies, and founded and directed the CMPR Jazz Faculty Ensemble and the CMPR Jazz Festival. His column, Style & Influence, was regularly featured in the quarterly magazine Jazz Improv. Pignataro was elected as an IAJE Executive Board Member of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), where he served as the first IAJE Latin America Representative and founder and president of the IAJE Chapter of Puerto Rico, the IAJE Latin American Ensemble, and the IAJE Puerto Rico Big Band. He is a RICO Performing Artist, as well as an endorser for Mauriat saxophones and the Applied Microphone Technology Wireless System.
2013 Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors
Edmar Colon Gierbolini, a Berklee College of Music Presidential scholar, is a 21-year-old tenor saxophonist from Coamo, Puerto Rico. Edmar began playing the saxophone at the age of 12. Progressing at high speed, Colon started playing around PR in countless events with various local artists. He quickly grabbed the attention of Berklee College of Music, and was awarded a full scholarship to the school's 5 Week Summer Performance Program, three times in a row. Edmar then began touring around the world, playing in throughout the Western Hemisphere, and performing in the Detroit, Puerto Rico Heineken, and Dominican Republic Jazz Festivals, among others. Edmar has also recorded with the Spanish maestros Joaquin Sabina and Juan Manuel Serrat on their most recent release, with over 1 million in pre-sales. He has also performed with artists such as Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, Dave Liebman, Danilo Pérez, Miguel Zenón, Dave Liebman, Cyrus Chestnut, George Garzone, Lionel Loueke, Luis Enrique and Ismael Miranda, Ivan Lins, Steve Cardenas, among others.
Trumpeter Mao Sone was born in 1991 in Tokyo, Japan. He studied the piano and singing from his father, and his parents also gave him a trumpet when he was eight years old. Sone has later performed with Ray Bryant, Terumasa Hino, Lew Tabackin, Tomonao Hara, Eric Harland, Reuben Rodgers, and Aaron Goldberg around Tokyo.
In 2009, he came to Boston to attend to Berklee Summer Jazz Workshop, and worked with Terri Lyne Carrington and Tiger Okoshi. He won the full scholarship at Berklee. Sone performed with WE3, known as the oldest jazz trio in Japan. WE3 and Sone released the album called The Legend of Jazz Trio Meets Mao. He has also played in the Takeshi Inomata Jazztet.
In 2010, Sone began full-time at Berklee College of Music. In 2011, Hironori Suzuki (drums) and Sone formed the band SkyFloor together, and have toured Japan each year since 2011.Their first album will be released soon. Since 2013, Sone has been a part of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute.
After leading his own rock band as a guitarist/vocalist in elementary school, John Egizi decided to pick up the trombone in middle school without realizing that his family had been playing the instrument for generations. Shortly after switching instruments, his father introduced him to jazz, with which Egizi became increasingly obsessed. This obsession led him to attend LACHSA (Los Aanges County High School for the Arts) where he picked up the bass (acoustic/electric), began composing/arranging music both acoustically and electronically, and continued to develop his craft as a live performer while performing at places like the Monterey, North Sea, Toronto, Montreal and Playboy Jazz Festivals, and at the White House with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Maceo Parker, Bobby Watson, Antonio Hart, and Dianne Reeves.
After graduating from LACHSA, Egizi was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he currently resides, with dual major in Performance and Electronic Production & Design. He has continued to perform with a wide variety of artists, among them Bilal, Peter Erskine, George Garzone, Joe Lovano, and Adam Cruz, while working as a core music tutor for Berklee and as a copyist/arranger for Onyx Productions (Ralph Peterson Jr.). Egizi plans on releasing his debut solo project before graduating from Berklee.
Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, pianist Witness Matlou started playing music in church. His fascination with music was inspired by the role that music played at his church, home and life in the townships. Seeing people dance, singing and all the happiness in church, brought him into music.
His enthusiasm was triggered by the sounds of jazz piano, and this led him to spending much time in church after services, and after school, practicing. Since he didn’t own a piano at home, and his parents could not afford to buy him a keyboard, he began music lessons at a community center, where he made great progress.
Witness went to study music at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, where the jazz program was led by Darius Brubeck, son of the legendary Dave Brubeck. At UKZN, Witness won a scholarship to study music in the USA, and spent two semesters at Drake University in Iowa. At Drake, Witness formed the Witness Matlou Trio, which later performed at the Des Moines Arts Festival.
While studying at Drake, Witness got an opportunity to audition for Berklee College of Music, and got acceptance with a full scholarship award, and became the recipient of the African Scholar 2010. In the summer of 2010, Witness got an opportunity to tour and play professionally in Europe, with the Drake University Jazz Band, including the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.
Bassist Jared Henderson is from the mountain town of Sisters, Oregon. He began playing bass at age 11, studying with his father and other local jazz musicians. The majority of his musical education came from playing small gigs around Central Oregon. During high school, Jared won many awards around the Pacific Northwest, including outstanding soloist at the Oregon, Reno and Mt. Hood Jazz Festivals. Also during this time he attended several jazz workshops to supplement areas of music education that weren’t available in a rural area, including Port Townsend, SUNY Purchase, Berklee Five- Week, University of Oregon, and Mel Brown jazz programs.
In 2009 Jared received a full tuition scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music. Currently, Jared is in his 7th semester at Berklee and studies with teachers Hal Crook, Dave Santoro, John Lockwood, Darren Barrett, Phil Wilson, and Terri Lyne Carrington. He is also becoming a well established professional within the Boston music community, performing weekly at Wally’s Jazz Café and regularly at other local venues. He has performed with artists including Dave Liebman, Terrell Stafford, Julian Lage, Jason Palmer, Christian Howes and Justin Faulkner.
Jharis Yokley was born in 1991, in St. Louis, Missouri. He started playing drums at an early age, because the church he attended needed someone to keep time while the choir rehearsed. He kept playing the drums as a hobby until high school, when he decided to take it up seriously. He was soon a member of the high school’s highest concert band, holding the position of principal percussionist. Later, he was chosen for both the Missouri All-State High School Jazz Band and the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars, a combo composed of the finest high school students in St. Louis.
It was in his senior year of high school that he decided he wanted to attend Berklee College of Music. He soon auditioned and got accepted with scholarship. While at Berklee, Jharis has played with many excellent musicians, has started to make a name for himself, and has been chosen for the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, led by Artistic Director Danilo Pérez.