NEC Faculty and Alumni Receive Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grants

Faculty members Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, Jason Moran, and Nasheet Waits as well as alumni jaimie branch '05 BM and Felipe Salles '97 MM, '98 GD will use the transformative grants to further explore their art form and work.

New England Conservatory faculty members Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, Jason Moran, and Nasheet Waits and alumni jaimie branch '05 BM and Felipe Salles '97 MM, '98 GD have each been awarded 2021 Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grants of up to $40,000 from South Arts. 

These grants are part of Jazz Road’s largest investment in the field to date as part of a national initiative supporting jazz artists. Through Jazz Road Creative Residencies, 52 artists are receiving grants of up to $40,000 each, allowing them the opportunity to further explore their art form and work. Projects supported through Jazz Road Creative Residencies range from the creation of new works to community-driven collaborative events. The recipients are a broad representation of the national field. Recipients come from every region of the country, and work within multi-faceted jazz/improvisation genres.

Read more about the NEC grant winners and their projects below.


Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol

Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol – Faculty, Music History and Musicology; Intercultural Institute

This major grant will allow Sanlıkol—a jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, singer, scholar and educator—to create and record new compositions for jazz orchestra. His 19-piece Whatsnext? Ensemble will include guest saxophonist and fellow NEC faculty member Miguel Zenón, clarinetist Anat Cohen, and percussionist Antonio Sanchez, among others. Sanlıkol’s new work will fuse Western jazz and Middle Eastern music (Turkish modes, microtones, rhythms) and draw on Muslim and Sufi literary and spiritual sources.  


Nasheet Waits – Faculty, Jazz Studies 

Nasheet Waits stands in front of a red wall, wearing a dark shirt

Drummer Nasheet Waits and WeUpReUp (Waits, Eric Revis and JD Allen) is a manifesto/forum to promote Black music to Black students/young adults. Project director Maya Cunningham of DuBois Black Music Project at UMass Amherst and artists will partner in the South with North Carolina Central University’s Jazz Studies Department; visit Jackson Mississippi Tourism; Godbolt Consultants; Tougaloo College; and Jackson State University. Offerings include master classes and two Black Music Symposiums on African American identity in jazz and the music/activism of master Max Roach. The band will perform at the Jackson Visitors Center and the Mississippi Museum of Art. 


Jason Moran

Jason Moran – faculty member, Jazz Studies

Moran’s composition will tie together multi-disciplinary components to re-create and premiere the lost Martha Graham piece, "Canticle". In partnership with the Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, Moran and the Martha Graham Dance Company will collaborate with noted choreographers exploring street dance and dance rooted in Afro-Caribbean, Taiwanese and Lebanese perspectives. The work will premiere at The Soraya in March 2022.


jaimie branch performing

jaimie branch – Alumna, Jazz Studies

FLY OR DIE's jaimie branch (with cellist, Lester St. Louis; bassist, Jason Ajemian; and drummer, Chad Taylor) will develop new music and visual work that is directly related to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Outdoor rehearsals, open studios and concerts will occur with partners, 360 Record Shop, Erin Basie Pier and the Red Hook Art Project and Houses (NYC Housing Authority). Funds will allow a highly professional recording process to follow which also enables branch's full ownership of the master recordings.



Felipe Salles

Felipe Salles – Alumnus, Jazz Studies 

Salles and his Interconnections Ensemble will collaborate with eight guest composers including Paquito D'Rivera, Yosvany Terry and Melissa Aldana to rehearse and record new work exploring immigration. (Photo by Jeff Schneider)









Jazz Road, a national program funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is led by South Arts in partnership with the five other U.S. Regional Arts Organizations (Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Western Arts Alliance/WESTAF). Jazz Road Creative Residencies is the third grant opportunity in this initiative, adding to the ongoing Jazz Road Tours grants and previous COVID-19 relief grants from the Jazz Road Quick Assist Fund. To learn more about Jazz Road and read about  Jazz Road Creative Residencies recipients and their projects, visit