When JAS brought the JAS Academy back in 2018 the programs Artistic Director Christian McBride commented that, “the number of super talented players who studied at the JAS Academy reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the finest up and coming Artists in the scene today. The Academy was an absolute breeding ground for the best young players around.” Many former Academy students have in fact gone on to have very successful musical careers, some even returning to play as professionals on the JAS Café stage. Here we highlight a few, and look forward to highlighting more from this year’s group of students in the future.

Sara Gazarek: Sara’s career has been the picture of success – highlighted by five acclaimed albums, an ardent fanbase, enthusiastic reviews, and collaborations with such luminaries as Kurt Elling, Fred Hersch, Billy Childs, and Larry Goldings. Her latest album, Thirsty Ghost, brings her musical expression stunningly into phase with her emotional maturity.

Trombone Shorty: The only Academy student to return and play on the main stage of the JAS Labor Day Experience, Troy Andrews, known more widely by his stage name “Trombone Shorty” tours consistently bringing audiences his hard-edged funk, hip-hop beats, rock dynamics and improvisation in the great tradition of jazz.

Ulysses Owens Jr.: From GRAMMY award-winning performances with Christian McBride’s acclaimed Trio and Big Band, to world tours with Kurt Elling and Joey Alexander, Owen’s artistic command of percussion has earned him positions in some of the most successful jazz ensembles of the 21st century.

Jeremy Pelt: Trumpeter Pelt’s recordings and performances have earned him critical acclaim. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal by legendary jazz writer and producers, Nat Hentoff, and was voted Rising Star on the trumpet, five years in a row by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association. He is currently touring in support of his latest release “Make Noise.”

Ben Williams: Winning the 2009 Thenlonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, propelled bassist Ben Williams career. One of the most sought after bassists in the world, his resume is a who’s who of jazz wisdom: Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Paquita Rivera, and Dee Dee Bridgewater to name a few.

JAS Cafe’, Sara Gazarek, Jan. 31, 2015

Sara Gazarek performs at the JAS Cafe in 2015

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