Renowned Vocalist And Composer Aubrey Johnson Joins Faculty At NEC

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Aubrey Johnson
NEC Grad Johnson To Direct NEC’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Group to be Featured in Concert on December 12 as part of In the Mix Concert Series

New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Department
has hired vocalist/composer Aubrey Johnson
Aubrey Johnson
Aubrey Johnson
to join the faculty. Johnson, who has deep ties to NEC, will direct the school’s 6-voice vocal jazz ensemble.

A versatile vocalist, arranger, and composer, Johnson is in demand as both a leader and side person. She can be heard with legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb on the 2007 Origin Records release Essence of Green, as well as Bobby McFerrin’s 2010 EmArcy release VOCAbuLaries. She has performed with Lyle Mays and Steve Rodby (of the Pat Metheny Group), and Mark Walker and Paul McCandless (of Oregon) as well as many other prominent New York and Boston based musicians. Johnson is a member of the independent record label Inner Circle Music, owned by saxophonist Greg Osby, and will be releasing her debut album with the label.

“The New England Conservatory has wonderful and incredibly unique Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation programs which are unmatched in quality, both of their educational environment and their students. The opportunity to direct the school's vocal jazz ensemble is a great honor to me," says Johnson.

Johnson will direct the Vocal Jazz Ensemble in a concert at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12 as part of NEC’s In The Mix concert series. The event is free, open to the public, and takes place at New England Conservatory’s Pierce Hall on the first floor of NEC’s St. Botolph Building, 241 St. Botolph Street, Boston.

Johnson received her Master of Music degree in jazz performance from NEC in 2009. While a student, she initiated and served as the assistant director of a 9-person vocal group directed by Dominique Eade. Upon graduation, she was awarded the Gunther Schuller Medal for “making an extraordinary contribution to the life of the school.”

“As a student, Aubrey Johnson was pivotal in bringing a renewed commitment to vocal jazz ensemble performance at NEC. And I'm extremely happy that she has been able to join us this year as a faculty member, directing NEC's Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Aubrey's talents, both as an artist and an educator, make her uniquely qualified to lead our jazz vocalists in the development of their ensemble skills,” says Ken Schaphorst, Chair of the Jazz Studies Department.

Originally from Green Bay, WI, Johnson specializes in jazz, Brazilian, and creative contemporary music with and without words. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in jazz performance from Western Michigan University (2007). As a student she was awarded “Best Jazz Vocalist” (2008) and “Outstanding Vocalist, Jazz Performance” (2007, 2009) by DownBeat Magazine in their annual Student Music Awards. She also serves on the faculty at the Berklee College of Music.

New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967, the unprecedented program was approved by the National Association of Schools of Music and began offering classes in September 1969. Closely allied to the Jazz Studies program was his Third Stream department (now Contemporary Improvisation), which came along a few years later, building bridges between classical music, jazz and related genres.

Jazz Studies faculty have included Carl Atkins, Jaki Byard, Jimmy Giuffre, six MacArthur “Genius” grant recipients (Steve Lacy, George Russell, Ran Blake, Gunther Schuller, Miguel Zenón and Jason Moran) and four NEA Jazz Masters (Schuller, Bob Brookmeyer, Russell and Ron Carter). Current faculty, led by Jazz Studies Chair Ken Schaphorst, are among the most distinguished jazz artists of today: Jerry Bergonzi, Ran Blake, Luis Bonilla, Anthony Coleman, Dominique Eade, Billy Hart, Fred Hersch, Dave Holland, Cecil McBee, Donny McCaslin, John McNeil, Jason Moran, Bob Moses, Brad Shepik and Miguel Zenon, among others.

Prominent NEC alumni include Darcy James Argue, Bruce Barth, Richie Barshay, Don Byron, Regina Carter, Freddy Cole, Marilyn Crispell, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, Ricky Ford, Satoko Fujii, Jerome Harris, Fred Hersch, Roger Kellaway, Mat Maneri, Harvey Mason, Andy McGhee, Bill McHenry, John Medeski, Vaughn Monroe, Michael Moore, Noah Preminger, Jamie Saft, George Schuller, Luciana Souza, Chris Speed, Cecil Taylor, Daniel Tepfer, Cuong Vu, Phil Wilson, Bo Winiker, Bernie Worrell and Rachel Z. As of the 2012-2013 school year, the program has 61 undergraduate and 45 graduate students representing 12 countries.

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