ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Winners Honored by Newport Festival

After a one-year break due to the pandemic, The ASCAP Foundation, led by President Paul Williams, and Newport Festivals Foundation, Inc. continue their joint effort to promote emerging jazz talent for the fifth year.

Starting today, The Newport Jazz Festival, one of the world’s most respected showcases for jazz, is featuring on its Newport Sessions website performances by composer and saxophonist Clint Bleil and composer and trumpeter Giveton Gelin, both recipients of The ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award.

Williams said: “Our partnership with Newport Festivals Foundation is so important and we are excited to work together again to showcase two of our Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award recipients. We know that Newport fans will enjoy hearing these up-and-coming music creators and all that they have to offer.”

Artistic Director of the Newport Jazz Festival, Christian McBride says, “I’d like to congratulate Giveton Gelin and Clint Bleil, who are among the many outstanding recipients of the 2020 and 2021 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards. These two wonderfully talented composers and players are sure to have long careers, and all of us at the Newport Festivals Foundation are very happy to be associated with them and the HAYJC Award. I predict that both Giveton and Clint will perform at the Newport Jazz Festival one day!”

Clint Bleil (Photo: Courtesy the artist)

Clint Bleil, chosen as the 2021 HAYJC recipient who would have performed live at this year’s Newport Jazz Festival, is a composer and saxophonist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He regularly performs in the Pittsburgh area with his quartet that focuses on modern jazz arrangements and compositions, as well as a funk/fusion group that he co-leads with his brother. Bleil has received numerous awards in composition and arranging, including a SONIC Award for his jazz ensemble piece “It Matters,” which was performed at the 2019 International Jazz Composers’ Symposium, and a DownBeat Student Music Award in 2019 for his arrangement of “I’ll Remember April.” He has composed, arranged and transcribed for multiple groups and ensembles, including Chris Thile’s band on Live from Here, Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti, Bob Reynolds, Project TRIO and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. Bleil is currently a visiting assistant professor of music at Washington & Jefferson College, where he teaches multiple classes and leads the jazz and wind ensemble. He has degrees in music education and saxophone performance from Slippery Rock University, and a master’s degree in studio jazz writing from the University of Miami.

Bleil performs “Continue On,” which he says is “a title that refers to the extreme ‘writer’s block’ that was affecting me at the beginning of the compositional process. I restarted composing the piece three or four times before creating the repeating rhythmic pattern heard at the start of the piece. After working with this, I almost ‘restarted’ again, before I forced myself to Continue On,’ and just keep writing. Thank goodness I did, because it finally came together! This flowing piece travels over a broad range of harmonic colors, ranging from bright lydian sounds in 3/4 time to darker aeolian sounds in 5/4 time, and features improvisation on the soprano saxophone.”

Giveton Gelin (Photo: Courtesy the artist)

Since he was 10 years old, Giveton Gelin, a 2020 HAYJC award recipient, taught himself to play the trumpet simply by emulating his favorite records. After years of self-tutelage, Adrian D’Aguilar, bass player, began to mentor him, teaching him the tools to play jazz. Later on, the Nassau-born trumpeter would study with Dr. Eddie Henderson at the Oberlin Conservatory. The same year, he received recognition from the Young Arts Foundation and Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program. Gelon continued his studies at the Juilliard School, expecting to graduate in 2021. After only a year at Juilliard, the trumpeter has played with pioneers of the New York jazz scene including Curtis Lundy, Harold Mabern, Winard Harper, Sullivan Fortner, Ben Wolfe and Jon Batiste. Additionally, the 20-year-old trumpeter has studied with some of the world’s greatest including Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Ralph Peterson and the late Roy Hargrove. Gelin’s artistic vision is to pay tribute to his ancestors and unify others by incorporating universal human experiences into sound. Through his quintet, Gelin brings forth a new narrative to jazz music.

Gelin performs “True Design” from his debut album of the same name. He says the album “is about the artistic nature of the universe. The world in every sense has an element of art, connecting us to God; therefore, we’re all a part of something greater than ourselves. Given the current global climate, it is clear to me that our plans bear no weight against nature. I desire to live life with this outlook – hoping to be a light that contributes to making today less burdensome through music.”

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