Jazz Mentors

Jazz Mentors logo

It’s called the music business for a reason. The business side of music is often anathema to most musicians – something to be ignored, feared or misunderstood.

The Jazz Mentors series connects up-and-coming musicians with some of New York City’s premier artists to discuss the business of jazz. Each forum features discussion led by preeminent members and leaders of the jazz community about how to build and maintain a successful music career.

The business components of a establishing a career in music are frequently under-appreciated and misunderstood by young and emerging musicians. To address this, Jazz Mentors audiences are guided through some of the most vital aspects of launching a career, including representation, touring, protecting your recordings in digital format, the impact of streaming services, and building a secure financial future, among others.

Located at Local 802, the informal setting allows for relaxed communication and a free-flowing exchange of ideas between the audience and the artists, encouraging full participation and interaction. The events are free and open to the public.





Esteemed panel featuring Lakecia Benjamin, Ulysses Owens, Jr., Rudresh Mahanthappa and Michael Leonhart lead Jazz Mentors panel focusing on politics, exploitation, diversity and artistic engagement.

Free and open to the public




On February 13, Local 802 American Federation of Musicians and The Council for Living Music will host the eighth installment of JAZZ MENTORS, a series of interactive panel discussions designed to connect up-and-coming musicians with some of New York City’s premier jazz artists to discuss the business components of developing a career in music. Headlined by jazz luminaries Lakecia Benjamin, Ulysses Owens, Jr., Rudresh Mahanthappa and Michael Leonhart, Jazz Mentors 8: “Social Justice, Diversity and Entrepreneurship in Jazz,” will discuss issues of exploitation, race, diversity and artistic engagement in today’s political climate. This panel will guide young and emerging musicians through an open discussion about our civil liberties and the impact of race-gender diversity in music business practices, as well as explore the vitally important and often misunderstood intricacies of the business and career management aspects of professional life in the music industry.

Ms. Benjamin, Mr. Owens Jr., Mr. Mahanthappa and Mr. Leonhart will draw upon their own career experiences while sharing advice, insight and guidance with emerging musicians, thereby addressing a neglected aspect of musicians’ career development. The informal setting allows for a free flowing exchange between the audience and artists, encouraging full audience participation and interaction.

Where: Local 802, Club Room, 322 West 48th Street, Manhattan

When: Monday, February 13, 5:00-6:30 PM

To register, contact Todd Weeks: 212-245-4802 X185; tweeks@local802afm.org or sign up here.


  • Saxophonist and band-leader Lakecia Benjamin has shared the stage with some of the most prominent artists in the world today, including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Macy Gray and many more. A native born New Yorker from Washington Heights, Ms. Benjamin brings a soul and funk sound to her band, Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad Meters. She is currently a featured musician for Gregory Porter as well as a featured musician and arranger for comedy star Craig Robinson and the Nasty Delicious, and has had the honor of performing at the White House at President Obama’s inaugural ball.
  • Drummer, percussionist and Grammy winner Ulysses Owens Jr. has ascended to be one of New York City’s premier drummers, establishing himself has as a leader of today’s jazz generation. Known for his fiery, textural and complex style, Mr. Owens has performed and recorded with some of the most important musicians in the world, including as a member of the Christian McBride Trio, as well as with Wynton Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller, Joey Alexander, Dianne Schuur, Renee Fleming, Rob Wasserman and many others. Mr. Owens has also established himself as a producer and leader of music education. His non-for-profit organization, Don’t Miss a Beat, Inc., combines music and art with a focus on academic achievement, civic engagement and on empowering inner city students to strive for their dreams.
  • Saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa is known today for his unique blend of music and multi-cultural traditions and styles, cultivating progressive jazz and south Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form reflecting his own experience as a second generation Indian-American. Mr. Mahanthappa’s work has received many accolades, including being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, as well as being named the Alto Saxophonist of the Year four of the past five years in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Polls and for five years running by the Jazz Journalist’s Association.
  • Grammy winner Michael Leonhart has emerged as one of the most imaginative musicians of the day, known throughout the world as a trumpet player, producer, arranger, film composer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter.  His career has included performing and recording with some of the most important ensembles and musicians in the world, including with Steely Dan, James Brown, Ringo Starr, Brian Eno, Paul Simon, A Tribe Called Quest, Raekwon, Alicia Keys, Steven Tyler, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, Bette Midler, Yoko Ono, Sharon Jones and the Dapkings and many more.




December 12, 2016: Jazz Mentors VII: “Passing the Torch: Multi Generational Approaches to a Career in Jazz”

Jazz Mentors VII focused on passing the craft of jazz, improvisation and collaboration between generations and across cultures. Headlined by jazz luminaries Joe Lovano, Regina Carter and Judi Silvano, the panel guided musicians through an open discussion about the importance developing an awareness of the many cultures and generations that make jazz an evolving and innovating art form, as well as explored the vitally important and often misunderstood intricacies of the business and career management aspects of professional life in the music industry.

November 28, 2016: Jazz Mentors VI: “What Does it mean to be a Woman in Jazz?”

Jazz Mentors VI brought the esteemed Grace Kelly, Carol Sudhalter, Kim A. Clarke and Nicki Parrott together on a panel guest moderated by New School’s NYU’s Diane Moser. These panelists guided  a room filled with young and emerging musicians through unique challenges facing female performers pursuing careers in jazz, as well as the vitally important and often misunderstood intricacies of the business and career management aspects of professional life in the music industry.

October 3, 2016: Jazz Mentors V: “Finding Your Niche in the Jazz World”

Jazz Mentors V brought Grammy winning percussionist Bobby Sanabria, esteemed trumpeter-composer Randy Sandke and legendary drummer Omar Hakim to the Jazz Mentors stage. These three luminaries, all from various disciplines, guided young and emerging musicians through an open panel discussion about the importance of finding a place of one’s own in the jazz world.

June 27, 2016: Jazz Mentors IV

Jazz Mentors IV featured esteemed bassist and composer Ben Allison, guitarist and activist Marc Ribot, acclaimed vocalist Amy London, band leader Sherrie Maricle and internationally recognized drummer Alvester Garnett. This dynamic panel provided guidance to an audience of musicians through an open discussion covering such topics as running a big band, recording and marketing an album, and issues around the exploitation of digital media.

May 23, 2016:  Jazz Mentors III

Jazz Mentors III was led by legendary bassist Ron Carter, industry visionary and GRAMMY winning composer Maria Schneider, and pianists Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap. This unmatched group of musicians led a packed house of over 70 musicians to discuss how to build a career and advocate for intellectual property rights, among other topics.

April 28th, 2016: Jazz Mentors II

The second forum of Jazz Mentors, a series focusing on “Organizing Your Career: Getting Started in the Business of Jazz,” was led by bassist and composer Rufus Reid, pianist Rachel Z., drummer Matt Wilson and saxophonist Su Terry. This group of musicians spoke about their working lives and shared ideas about how to start and sustain a career.

March 10th, 2016: Jazz Mentors

The first Jazz Mentors program featured panelists Paquito D’Rivera, Jazzmeia Horn and Bob Cranshaw, and was moderated by Principal Jazz Representative Todd Weeks. The audience was a mix of students and professionals all eager to learn more about the nuts and bolts of how to deal with the many challenges in today’s music business.




From the Archives: Jazz was always Bob Cranshaw’s first love. But his advice to young musicians? “Do it all.” Be open and find new opportunities to do new things. “You can swing on anything.” Bob was a panelist on the inaugural Jazz Mentors session on March 10, 2016.


From the Archives: Vocalist Jazzmeia Horn speaks about how setting financial and business standards for your gigs not only protects your interests, but those of your colleagues throughout the music world. Jazzmeia was a Jazz Mentors panelist on March 10, 2016.


From the Archives: Saxophonist and Clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera explains that in order to ensure that performances pay fairly, you must be willing to just say “no.” Paquito joined Jazz Mentors on March 10, 2016.



Ben Allison (Bassist, composer and intellectual property advocate) has quickly established himself has one of the most identifiable arrangers, composers and performers of today. As the leader of The Ben Allison Band, The Easy Way Trio, Man Size Safe, Peace Pipe, and Medicine Wheel, Ben has toured extensively throughout the world. Additionally, Mr. Allison is well known as a recording industry visionary and advocate, currently serving as vice President and member of the Board of the NY Chapter of the National Academy of recording Arts and Sciences.

Ron Carter (Bass) is a legend of the jazz world, having played some of the greatest musicians of the jazz cannon – from Cannonball Adderley to Miles Davis, B.B. King, Lena Horne and countless others – Mr. Carter has established himself as one of the most influential bassist in jazz. Mr. Carter’s has two GRAMMY awards and over 2,000 albums to his credit, as well as being named Outstanding Bassist of the Decade by the Detroit News, Jazz Bassist of the Year by Downbeat Magazine, and Most Valuable Player by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. In addition to his estimable career as a performer, Mr. Carter is a prolific advocate of music education, has lectured, conducted and performed at clinics and master classes, instructed jazz ensembles and taught the business of music a numerous universities, including the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies, as well as at the City College of New York.

Bill Charlap (Piano) has performed with many of the leading artists of today’s jazz era, a list that includes Phil Woods, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis. Mr. Charlap, a two time GRAMMY nominated musician, is the Artistic Director of the Jazz in July Festival at the 92nd Street Y, and has produced several concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA. He performs with his trio at venues and festivals all over the world.

Bob Cranshaw (Bass) has been a leading figure in the jazz world for decades, having performed with many of America’s greatest jazz musicians, including Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Sarah Vaughan, Horace Silver, Ella Fitzgerald, McCoy Tyner, Clark Terry and Bob Brookmeyer, among many others. He has been an active spokesperson for jazz musicians for decades, both with the Jazz Foundation of America and with AFM, Local 802 and has served on boards for both organizations.

Paquito D’Rivera (Clarinet, Saxophone, Composition), a winner of fourteen GRAMMY Awards, has had an extraordinary jazz, Latin and classical music career. In addition to an extensive and diverse discography of over 30 solo albums, Mr. D’Rivera has founded numerous ensembles around the world, including the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, Irakere, United Nation Orchestra, the Chamber Jazz Ensemble, the Paquito D’Rivera Big Band, and the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet.

Alvester Garnett (Drummer) place among the great musicians of today is secure, having performed and recorded with the likes of Roy Hargrove, Benny Golson, Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry, Wycliffe Gordon, Stefon Harris and many more. Mr. Garnett has performed across the United States and the world, having performed at many international festivals including the Newport Jazz Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival, The Vienne Jazz Festival, The Montreux Jazz Festival and many others. He is currently performing across the United States with his wife, jazz violinist Regina Carter.

Jazzmeia Horn (Vocals), winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition and the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, has quickly established herself as a rising star of the jazz world. Ms. Horn has performed at many of the city’s premier venues, including Lenox Lounge, The Apollo Theater, The Blue Note, Minton’s, The Jazz Standard, Smalls Jazz Club, Zinc, Jazz Gallery and Birdland, as well as many national and international venues with her group, “The Artistry of Jazz Horn.”

Amy London (Vocalist) is well known in New York City jazz and Broadway circles for her impeccable musicianship and effortless sound. Her career has included multiple internationally acclaimed recordings and international tours in throughout Europe, the United States and Canada. Ms. London is currently a faculty member at the New School’s Jazz BFA program, and in early 2014 launched the Vocal Jazz Academy at Jazz House for Kids, in Montclair, NJ. This year, her educational responsibilities will continue to expand, when she will join the jazz faculty at City College, CUNY. Her most recent CD, “The Royal Bopsters,” has garnered uniformly positive reviews.

Sherrie Maricle (Drummer and Bandleader) has established herself as an extremely versatile and dynamic performer, educator and conductor, performing across the United States and abroad at many of the world’s most acclaimed music venues and jazz festivals. Ms. Maricle has received many awards and grants for her contributions to music performance and education, including the Kennedy Center Alliance Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Arts, a State Department grant for FIVE PLAY to tour Vietnam, and the 2006 New York City Music Educator’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Music Education.

Rufus Reid (Bass, Composition) is widely considered one of the premiere bassists, band leaders and composers on the international jazz scene. Mr. Reid, a multiple GRAMMY award nominee, has worked with many of the world’s most prestigious jazz musicians, including Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Eddie Harris, Art Farmer among many others, and is the leader of multiple groups, including the “Hues of a Different Blue” sextet, the “Out Front” trio and “Quiet Pride ~ The Elizabeth Catlett Project” and the Kennedy Center Quintet. In addition to his formidable performance career, Mr. Reid has established himself as a pre-eminent educator, emphasizing the encouragement of young and emerging jazz artists around the country.

Marc Ribot (Guitarist and activist) has established himself as a major part of the music community through his diverse interests, projects, performances with a wide array of musicians, and via his activism on behalf of the recording industry and intellectual property rights. Mr. Ribot has released over 20 albums over the course of his 35 year career, and worked with some of the most famous musicians of our time, including Brother Jack McDuff, Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Chuck Berry, Joe Henry, Allen Toussaint, Norah Jones, Akiko Yano, The Black Keys, Jeff Bridges, Jolie Holland, Elton John/Leon Russell and many others.

Renee Rosnes (Piano) is one of the premier pianists, bandleaders and composers of her generation. Since moving to New York in 1986, her career has included work with some of the most important musicians of the era, including Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter, and fellow Jazz Mentor Ron Carter. Beyond her work as a performer, Ms. Rosnes has become a celebrated jazz journalist, serving as the radio host of The Jazz Profiles, an interview series produced by Canada’s CBC, and as a contributor to JazzTimes magazine.

Maria Schneider (Composition) is regarded as one of the most influential composers of our time. Her music has been commissioned by a wide range of musicians and groups, from Jazz at Lincoln Center to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and David Bowie. In addition to the eighteen GRAMMY nominations, five GRAMMY awards and numerous Jazz Journalists Association awards, Ms. Schneider has distinguished herself for utilizing unique and innovative funding and business techniques to realize her projects, including becoming the first composer to win a GRAMMY for a record sold solely on the internet. Ms. Schneider has also established herself as a strong advocate of the music industry, testifying before the United States Congressional Subcommittee on Intellectual Property about digital rights and appearing in national media outlets regarding intellectual property and artist rights.

Su Terry (Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute) has been hailed as a “forward voice in modern music” during a career that has included work with many esteemed jazz masters, including Clark Terry, Al Jarreau, Melba Liston, Carmen McRae, Charli Persip, Jon Faddis and Peggy Stern. Ms. Terry has appeared as a soloist with the National Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Florida Pops and New York Pops Orchestras, as well as performing at the Montreux, Grande Parade du Jazz, Pori, North Sea, Montreal and Ottawa jazz festivals. In addition to her vast performance and recording career, Ms. Terry is the author of “Practice Like the Pros,” two non-fiction books and an illustrated novel.

Matt Wilson (Drums), a GRAMMY nominee, is universally recognized for his musical and melodic drumming style as well as being a gifted composer, bandleader, producer, and teaching artist in New York City. In addition to performing as a member of bands led by Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Lee Konitz, Jane Ira Bloom, Denny Zeitlin, Ron Miles, and Dena DeRose among many others. Mr. Wilson also leads the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts and Crafts, Christmas Tree-O and the Carl Sandburg Project.

Rachel Z. (Piano) is a GRAMMY winner and leading performer, band leader and educator in New York City. Ms. Z.’s career has included working with some of the great jazz musicians of our time, including Bob Moses, Miroslav Vitous, George Garzone, Najee and Wayne Shorter. She teaches music theory and piano at the New School in New York City.