2023 Scholarship Recipients

gary (kaiji) wang

Gary (Kaiji) Wang is a pianist, composer, and arranger originally from Beijing, China. He has arranged works for such notable musicians as Toninho Horta and Alan Ferber. Wang is a three-time recipient of ASCAP’s Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards (2020-22) as well as a four-time winner of the DownBeat Student Music Awards in the Jazz Arrangement category (2018, 2021-23), earning the Outstanding Jazz Arrangement Award in 2021, and 2023. He is the winner of the 2022 RSMI Bridges Composition Competition, and he has also earned first place in the 2020 Van Alexander Awards for Instrumental Arranging and the 2020 Irwin Kostal Awards for Orchestration from ASMAC.


Wang’s work has been performed at the 2022 Ravinia Music Festival, 2022 Jazz Education Network Conference, and 2019 Rochester International Jazz Festival. Having Completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Composition at the Berklee College of Music (2018) and MM degrees in Jazz Writing and Contemporary Media/Film Composition at Eastman School of Music (2021), Wang is currently a DMA jazz composition student at the Frost School of Music.


Outside of jazz, Wang works as a professional composer/arranger for many pop artists, video games, musicals, and TV shows.

ebba dankel

Ebba Dankel (b.2000 in Malmö, Sweden) is a Boston-based jazz pianist and composer, currently pursuing a BM in Jazz Composition and Piano Performance at Berklee College of Music. She began her studies in piano and trumpet at ages six and eleven, respectively, playing in several big bands on both instruments.


She graduated from the prestigious music program at Malmö Latinskola in 2019 and received awards for her excellent grades and performances. She attended the distinguished jazz program at Skurups Folkhögskola where she studied for two years. Ebba is currently a Sophomore at Berklee where she has received a presidential scholarship. She studies with NEA Jazz masters Joanne Brackeen, Terri Lyne Carrington and grammy winning guitarist Matthew Stevens.


Ebba performs at the legendary Wally’s Jazz Club in Boston every week with different groups she puts together. She is regularly playing and recording with various groups in Boston as well as Sweden and Denmark during the summers. Ebba has performed at several festivals such as the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Aarhus Jazz Festival, Ödåkra Jazz festival and Malmöfestivalen. She is currently working on her debut album as a leader

beckett miles

Drummer Beckett Miles is a senior at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida. He was born into a musical family; his mother a jazz vocalist and his father and grandfather both jazz drummers. He began playing drum set at the age of three. His love for playing jazz blossomed in middle school when he first heard the legendary Buddy Rich.


Most recently, he was selected to perform with Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz Orchestra culminating with a European tour this summer. Last year he was chosen to perform with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the Monterey Jazz Festival. In addition, the Douglas Anderson SOTA Jazz Ensemble 1 and his DA Jazz Combo won the 2023 and 2022 National Jazz Festival. In 2021, they won the Basically Basie Competition in Kansas City. He was honored to receive an Outstanding Musicianship Award for that performance. They also received a DownBeat Student Award for Best Performing Arts High School Jazz Ensemble and he received a 2021 DownBeat Outstanding Student Performance award for drum set.


Beckett has performed at the Jazz Education Network conferences in Dallas and Orlando and has performed at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival three times. He is a staple within local club, society, and festival gigs. He is honored to be attending The Juilliard School Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies program this fall.

ruby pucillo

Ruby Pucillo is a native New Yorker and undergraduate vocalist-composer at the Lamont School of Music within the University of Denver (Colorado). A self-taught jazz musician, she has pursued a somewhat unconventional musical path by current standards. Although she sang in public school choirs for ten years before heading to college, she never took one lesson, instead immersing herself in the music of New York City, Westchester clubs and jam sessions, as well as the vast array of recordings that colored her childhood.


Pucillo is a two-time NYSSMA All-State scat soloist and the Lamont School of Music’s 2023 Jazz Competition winner. She can frequently be found performing standards and her originals at such renowned Denver jazz venues as Dazzle, as well as around Westchester when she is back east.


A fluent French-speaker, she recently spent almost five months living in Paris, where she made her way into the jazz scene and worked as a French literary fiction copy editor in a publishing house. After graduating in June 2023, she will return to her home of New York City to further pursue her musical and literary ambitions.

dominique frazier

Dominique Frazier is a skilled saxophonist of seven years. Hailing from The Colony, Texas, he has been a member of multiple jazz bands and has been privileged to be selected for the TMEA Jazz Region Ensemble in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023, as well as the GDYO Jazz Orchestra in 2022-2023.


It was Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” that stirred Dominique’s passion for jazz at a very young age. He is thrilled to be entering his first year of Jazz Studies at the Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music in the fall of 2023, and is well on his way to becoming a working jazz musician.

Derrick johns

Derrick Johns is an alto and tenor saxophone player from Mobile, Alabama. He is additionally learning skills on the trumpet and baritone saxophone.


Johns graduated from W.P. Davidson High School and will be attending Southern University and A&M College in the fall of 2023. He hopes to introduce others to the gift of jazz and eventually teach those locally and nationally the ‘why’ behind jazz culture through an earned Doctorate of Music Education.

connor sullivan

Connor Sullivan, a student at DePaul University, is a 20-year-old up-and-coming bassist, composer, and arranger based in Chicago. As shared by his instructor, “Connor is entirely self-effacing and is not afraid of asking the hard questions that he knows will foreshadow growth. He embodies it in his behavior, both as a human being and a musician.”


Since being surrounded by music at the ripe age of seven, he has become a part of Chicago’s scene performing across different venues in the city. He studies with GRAMMY-winning bassist Clark Sommers and bass master Dennis Carroll while working towards his degree, along with many other esteemed educators and musicians. He is proud to have performed alongside Sharel Cassity, Scott Burns, Scott Hesse, and Chris Madsen among others. Currently, he holds a residency alongside peers in Rogers Park, while freelancing throughout Chicago’s vibrant scene.

sylvia khouri

Originally from Dublin, California, Sylvia Khouri is a first-year trumpet player at the Berklee College of Music studying Jazz Composition and Performance with a minor in Screen Scoring.


She has been playing trumpet for 10 years, and in that time has played split-lead trumpet for the DownBeat Magazine-winning SFJAZZ High School Big Band, principal trumpet for the California Youth Symphony where she toured Eastern Europe in 2022, and the East Bay Jazz High School Big Band. She has performed at events like the NEA Jazz Masters Awards and the SFJAZZ Gala, playing with renowned musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Soweto Kinck, Erik Jekabson, and more.


Khouri has studied with Mario Silva, Sean Jones, Ingrid Jensen, Marquis Hill, Nicholas Peyton, Jason Hainsworth, and others along her musician journey. She currently studies with Nadje Noordhuis and Luis Perdomo. Most recently she was chosen as one of three recipients for the Al Natale Scholarship Award at Berklee where she performed a show in David Friend Hall. She has also started her first recording big band called the Khouri/White Collective playing an array of arrangements and original compositions from straight ahead jazz to contemporary fusion.

laura-simone martin

Laura-Simone Martin is a 17-year-old senior at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Known as a cultural activist and leader, Martin founded her school’s first Black Student Union (BSU) her sophomore year and continues to serve as the President. BSU has about 70 students holding discussions, leading initiatives, hosting guests, and volunteering. She also serves as Vice-President for Students for Social Activism, focusing on more general issues like voting rights, mental health, the LGBTQ+ movement, etc.


Musically she’s a nationally acclaimed bass player and vocalist who has performed at venues like Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Blue Note at Sea Cruise, Monterey Jazz Festival with the Next Generation Women in Jazz Combo, and the 2021 VAIL Jazz Festival with the Vail Jazz Workshop Allstars. She also has performed at Dizzy’s Club, Birdland Jazz Club, Tribeca Film Festival (Jennifer Lopez Netflix Premiere, Halftime), and more. Currently, she plays with Princeton University’s Creative Large Ensemble and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra. This past summer, she was a part of Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra, where she toured the U.S. with Sean Jones and 3x GRAMMY-nominated vocalist Jazzmeia Horn. She has also been in the National Association of Music Education All-National Honors Jazz Ensemble for three years.


In her junior year, Martin combined her passions for music and activism by founding the Queen Amina Music Program to help push the “women in jazz” music movement. This program is for 4th-8th grade instrumentalists at the Lawrence Intermediate School and Lawrence Middle School, where she teaches songs, the history of women in jazz, improvisational skills, and how to navigate modal progressions. This year she received a grant to invite guest artists to the program including Katie Thiroux, Camille Thurman, Dr. Chelsea Green, and more. In addition, a part of her grant was holding a day of masterclasses for the Queen Amina students and the Lawrence High School music department ending with a public concert on March 15, 2023, featuring Oscar winner and GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist Tia Fuller, Allison Miller on drums, Alexis Lombre on piano, and herself on bass.

gabriel severn

Gabe Severn’s passion is performing and composing music. He will major in music in college and plans to have a career as a professional musician.


Gabe began bass lessons when he was seven and joined a Motown tribute band through a local music school. When he was twelve, he formed a jazz fusion trio Teen Town (named after the Weather Report tune). They have been performing for over six years together and have toured throughout Pennsylvania, opening for a number of major artists including Sheila E., the Victor Wooten Trio, the Tierney Sutton Band, and the Original Drifters. Teen Town has performed at festivals such as Berks Jazz Fest, Musikfest, the Elkhart Jazz Festival, the Dauphin County Wine & Jazz Festival, the Scranton Jazz Festival, and TEDx Harrisburg. The band received a 2019 DownBeat Student Music Award and the 2020 “Best Jazz Band” Award from the Central PA Music Hall of Fame, releasing their debut album, “A Month of Sundays,” in 2022.


Severn had the honor of receiving the Joe Zawinul Foundation for Achievement’s 2022 “Z” Award which gave him the opportunity to be a featured performer in Vienna and participate in a music exchange program in Austria. He has received seven DownBeat Student Music Awards (for composition, performance, and soloing), four YoungArts Awards, two Jazz Education Network Awards, and the Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame’s “2022 Best Youth Instrumentalist” Spot Award. In 2018 he recorded and released two of his DownBeat Award-winning compositions with Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, which received global radio airplay.


Recently, he performed in the 2022 Wir Sind Wien Festival in Vienna, Austria, the Berks Jazz Festival’s Chuck Loeb Memorial All-Star Concert, and the Berks JF All-Star Midnight Jam. Gabe co-hosted the 2022 Berks Jazz Fest JazzED Jam and jazz education video, and was a panelist at the Jazz Philadelphia Summit. He performed his original composition with the U.S. Navy Commodores at the 2020 Jazz Education Network Conference (as a JEN Young Composers Showcase selectee), and performed at the Jazz Weekender, the COTA Jazz Festival, Detroit BASSDAY, Elkhart Jazz Festival, Dallas International Guitar Festival, Berkshires Jazz Festival, and at several NAMM Shows. Gabe has also been a guest performer with the professional jazz band in his home city, the Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra.

elvin debruicker

Elvin DeBruicker is an aspiring music educator and jazz saxophonist from Bloomington, Indiana, where he is a senior at Bloomington High School North. Elvin has performed with locally renowned jazz bands like the Bloomington Jazz Orchestra, frequently plays combo gigs at local restaurants and small venues, and was selected for the 2023 Indiana All-State Jazz Band.


Bloomington High School North has a long tradition of jazz excellence, and their top band received first place in the top hall at the 2023 Purdue Jazz Festival. Elvin has been recognized as an outstanding soloist at the Purdue, Ball State, and Bloomington jazz festivals where he has performed in both combos and big bands.


With younger students, Elvin shares his love of music through private lessons and assists in running rehearsals of the Tri-North Middle School Jazz Band. Some of his greatest positive influences have been music educators, and he believes music can change lives. Elvin is determined to foster great jazz education and plans to pursue a Bachelor’s in Music Education beginning in the fall of 2023.

daniel rodriguez-roig

Daniel Rodriguez-Roig is of Cuban-American descent and was born and raised in Miami. Since he was a child, music has always been an important part of his life. Daniel has always favored percussion instruments and would instantly gravitate to them from the time he was able to stand up and walk. However, he was also attracted to melodic instruments and gradually learned to play the piano and the violin. After listening to many famous records, attending some stellar performances, and participating in community jam sessions, he fell in love with playing jazz and other styles of improvised music. Eventually, Daniel learned that he could combine all that he had come to learn and love through the vibraphone which became his instrumental focus.


Throughout his middle school and high school years, he was selected to participate in the Florida All-State Concert and Jazz Bands and was Band Captain, Percussion Section Leader, and Vice President of the Tri-M Music Society at Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer from where he graduated in the top 5% of his class. Daniel was also the recipient of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in 2020, 2021, and 2022. He also had the pleasure to perform in various musicals and participated in a recording session with Gloria and Emilio Estefan.


Currently, Daniel is a first-year student at Berklee College of Music and made the Fall 2022 Dean’s List. He is currently working under the tutelage of renowned jazz vibraphonist Ed Saindon and was recently asked to give a solo jazz vibraphone performance at Berklee Percussion Week 2023. Daniel has been a part of the Charles Mingus Jazz Ensemble directed by Bruno Raberg, the Christian McBride Jazz Ensemble directed by Tia Fuller, and the Brazilian Jazz Fusion Ensemble directed by Fernando Brandao.

nicolle garcia

Nicolle Garcia is a passionate and expressive singer whose vibrant nature radiates through her voice and musical performance, captivating audiences with a magnetic energy. Her creation and self-expression transcend boundaries as Nicolle refuses to mold herself into a box. This is exemplified through her practice of various art forms and mediums, including photography, writing, theater, acting, and modeling. Nicolle’s transfixing angelic voice, life-inspired songs, and fearlessness to wear her heart on her sleeve inspire her expressive songwriting and uniquely recognizable sound. Garcia’s creative playfulness and passion take listeners on a journey through her Latin roots inspired by Miami’s diverse culture.


Garcia was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in Miami, Florida. As an immigrant from Nicaragua who came to the United States at a very young age, she owes everything to her Abuelita, Graciela Marín, whose courage and soul live through her very being and work. Nicolle uses art to explore her heritage, background, and culture to honor those who came before her. Her mission is to encourage others to hone in on their talents, as she believes that the artists, healers, and creators are the change-makers who offer strength and hope.


Nicolle graduated in 2021 with a B.A. in jazz vocal performance at the renowned University of Miami Frost School of Music. She studied composition, improvisation, and rhythm synchronicity and played in ensembles directed by GRAMMY-winning artists and instructors, including Martin Bejerano, John Hart, Dafnis Prieto, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. During her four years at Frost, she was on the Student Council, planned events centering around fostering creativity and connection through the Resident Assistant Program and Lowe Art Museum, and served as the MC of the Frost MSJ forums her senior year. Through her initiative and help from faculty members, Nicolle founded the inaugural Latin Jazz Small Ensemble under the direction of Carlo De Rosa – still offered today. As part of her studies and participation with the Courageous Creatives Cohort, sponsored by the nonprofit Culture Shock Miami, Nicolle co-wrote and scored music for the film Take Back Time and was featured in the National Young Artists’ Summit in 2020.


As a lifelong music student, Nicolle continues her studies with renowned Cuban-born Miami-based artist Lourdes Nuviola. Nicolle performs original music in the greater Miami area, specifically in acclaimed venues such as the Anderson, named one of the best spots in town for live music by the Miami Times. From 2021 to 2022, she had a year-long residency with Jazz Quartet Indigo at Boca West Country Club. Nicolle’s latest project is a soon-to-be-released single titled “In the Quiet,” featuring six- and eight-string nylon guitars and percussion, drawing influences from ethereal vocals and Latin American folk. Nicolle currently teaches through her own vocal studio with students from three to sixty years old.

charlotte lang

Swiss/Dutch saxophonist Charlotte Lang was born in 1996 in Basel and studied the bachelor and master program at the JAZZCAMPUS Basel under the guidance of Domenic Landolf and Daniel Blanc. She is currently studying the Master of Music in Global Jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston under the artistic direction of Danilo Pérez. In addition she is part of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.


From 2015 to 2018, Charlotte she was a member of the Swiss National Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Christian Muthspiel. Since 2020, she became a member of the German National Youth Jazz Orchestra (Bundesjazzorchester Deutschland), under the direction of Niels Klein and Ansgar Striepens. She also plays is the Austrian FJO (Frauen Jazz Orchester→Women Jazz Orchestra of Austria).


In 2021, Charlotte founded her own Quintet the „Charlotte Lang Group“, for what she is composing, arranging and booking. In the fall 2023, her first album will be recorded and hopefully released by a renowned label.


Charlotte plays in the “Swiss Jazz Orchestra” and the “Zurich Jazz Orchestra”, the two professional Big Bands of Switzerland.

Charlotte recently got the unique opportunity to write a monthly blog for the Swiss Jazz & Blues Magazine called JAZZTIME, to tell readers about her time at abroad and specifically her time at Berklee. Her graduate program lasts only until the summer of 2023. She hopes to stay in the United States to enlarge her network and build her musical career.