Music and Dance Students, Alumnus Shine at Jazz Education Network Conference

Rashaad Greene
Rashaad Greene
Thomas Lizotte
Thomas Lizotte
Brian Martin
Brian Martin

Two students and an alumnus of the music and dance department received major recognition from the Jazz Education Network, the nation's most prestigious jazz education organization, during its 2019 conference Jan. 9-12 in Reno, Nevada. 

Rashaad Greene, a percussionist/drummer pursuing a Master of Music degree, received the David Baker Collegiate Scholarship, presented annually to an outstanding jazz student who excels in a college/university music program by demonstrating talent, spirit and commitment to the field of jazz studies. The award was established in 2010 to honor the contributions of NEA Jazz Master/Educator David Baker.

Classically trained since the age of 11, Greene has worked diligently to bring jazz music to a wider audience by performing at retirement homes, providing free private instruction for low-income students, and volunteering and performing at the Northampton Jazz Workshop. He hopes to use his award to develop a private instruction studio to continue to share his passion for jazz music and percussion chamber music in particular.

Previously, Greene distinguished himself as one of the finest young musicians in Cobb County, Georgia, through his participation in National Honor Band/Orchestra of America, the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, and Georgia’s All State Band/Orchestra. At UMass Amherst, he is studying with jazz instructors Tom Giampietro, Fumi Tomita, Cathy Jensen-Hole and Jeffrey Holmes. 

Alumnus Thomas Lizotte, who received a bachelor’s degree in 1986 and a Master of Music degree in 1990, received the John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award. Co-sponsored by the Berklee College of Music, the award is presented to the jazz educator who represents the highest standards of teaching and whose results in the classroom have brought distinction to an institution and to students. The award is named for John Laporta, a distinguished professor of jazz at Berklee for more than three decades.

Lizotte has been in public education for the past 30 years, and currently teaches at Cape Elizabeth High School in Maine. Previously, he taught in high schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida and is a member of three teaching halls of fame – Massachusetts Drum Corps, Boston Crusaders, and Main Music Educators. In accepting his award, Lizotte cited UMass Amherst music professor emeritus David Sporny as a major influence on his career.

A composition by graduate student Brian Martin was selected for inclusion in the Young Composer Showcase at the conference. Martin’s “Lookin’ Forward” was one of only six selected from a highly competitive national field. Other winning entries were submitted by jazz students at Berklee College of Music, University of Miami, University of Michigan, Indiana University, and University of Northern Colorado.

Martin and the other five composers had the honor of hearing their winning entries by the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors during the final full day of the conference.