L.A. Residency Gives Young Jazz Artists a Leg Up

In partnership with 18th Street Arts Center: 18th Street Arts Center is an artists' residency program that provokes public dialogue through contemporary art-making.


It may not get top billing, but the jazz scene in Los Angeles is unexpectedly rich. The city is home to Sam First and The Blue Whale; the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA, the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts and USC Thornton School of Music. The city also has venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that regularly features jazz music in its programming.

It’s no wonder that a three-month residency here in L.A. is heaven for a jazz artist. Just ask Samantha Boshnack, last year’s recipient of the Make Jazz Fellowship at 18th Street Arts Center. Sponsored by the Herb Alpert Foundation, the fellowship awards a composer a monthly stipend, a furnished live-in studio in Santa Monica and arranged opportunities to explore their craft in Los Angeles. “Having three months of dedicated writing time, without the distraction of teaching or gigging helped me to focus as a composer and nurture my creative practice.  This kind of growth and building is an invaluable thing,” said Boshnack about her time in Los Angeles.

During her three months here, Boshnack composed a staggering eight movements about the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are an everyday occurrence. Her project, “Seismic Belt” focus on the area’s geological pace, but also on the region’s many bright and tropical countries, giving her movements a refreshing variety.  “This residency has been a life-changing experience for me.  There is very little support out there for jazz composers.  Getting encouragement and support to build my body of work has given me a lot of motivation to forge ahead in a career that is very hard to find an established path in.”

Samantha Boshnack in her final performance in L.A. | Emma Wang
Samantha Boshnack in her final performance in L.A. | Emma Wang

18th Street’s Artistic Director Anuradha Vikram agrees. She points out that there are many recognitions available to mid-career and established jazz artists, but only this fellowship focuses on emerging U.S. composers.

Since its establishment in 2011, 18th Street’s Make Jazz Fellowship has been a springboard for many jazz artists. Shortly after he was awarded the Make Jazz Fellowship, Marquis Hill won the Thelonious Monk Competition in 2014. Teddy Raven recorded an album, "The Flock," of compositions developed during the residency. John Ellis and his group Double-Wide recorded an album, "Charm," released in 2015, based on the music he created in the residency in 2014.

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This year, bassist Tabari Lake takes his turn in Santa Monica. During his three-month stay, Lake plans to work on his first full-length work exploring the conditions of his Virgin Islands identity and politics. Through his work, he hopes to highlight the beauty of “America’s Paradise,” and to spark dialog about what it means to exist in a constant duality. He will debut his work at the World Stage, March 9. Attend the event for free here.

Watch and listen to Boshnack’s work below:

Samantha Boshnack's Make Jazz Residency

Top Image: Samantha Boshnack in her final performance in L.A. | Emma Wang


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