Institute of Jazz Studies Announces Berger - Carter Jazz Research Awards

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The Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) has announced this year’s recipients of the Morroe Berger – Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund grants.  Each year the Institute awards up to 10 grants of $1,000 each, with half of the awards designated for students in the Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) Master’s Program in Jazz  History and Research.  The other half are awarded to scholars from other institutions, or unaffiliated researchers, to allow them to come to IJS to do research. 

The RU-N Master’s Program in Jazz History and Research is the only program of its kind.  Its founding director is Dr. Lewis Porter, Department of Arts, Culture and Media.

Master’s Program students receiving grants this year, and their research topics, are:

  • Andrea Jackson-Alexander: The Jazz Scene in Cleveland: The 1960’s to Present
  • Dylan Lagamma: The Personal and Musical Life of trumpeter Booker Little
  • Zach Streeter: Guitarist Jimmy Raney
  • Andrew A. Vogel: Kenny Wheeler’s Life and Music
  • Elise Wood: The Life and Music of Pianist John Hicks

This year’s outside scholar-awardees (with their affiliations and topics) are: 

•          Rashida K. Braggs (assistant professor, Africana Studies, Williams College): In the Shadow of Josephine: Migrating Jazz Women Negotiate Racial and National Identity

•          Lucas Henry (Ph.D candidate, musicology, University of Illinois-Urbana): The Experiences of American Jazz Composer and Big-band Leader Thad Jones in Scandinavia

•          Brian Lefresne (Ph.D candidate in literary studies, University of Guelph): A Critical Examination of the Intersection of Race, Class, and Art in the Life and Works of Jazz Musician and Poet Sun Ra

•          Zachary T. Wiggins (Ph.D candidate, musicology, Arizona State University): The Role of the Accordion in Jazz

•          Deanna Witkowski (Pianist/composer): Jazz in Catholicism in the late 1960s/early 1970s

The endowment was established in 1987 with a gift by jazz great Benny Carter (1907-2003) in memory of Morroe Berger.  Berger, a close friend and Carter’s biographer, was a professor of sociology at Princeton University until his death in 1981.  Carter’s initial gift was matched by the Berger family, who asked that Carter’s name be added to the Fund’s title.  Carter, his wife Hilma, and other donors have regularly added to the endowment over the years.  To date, 130 awards have been given to scholars and students worldwide working in a variety of disciplines, including jazz history, musicology, bibliography, and discography.

Benny Carter first came to prominence in the late 1920s and 1930s when his alto saxophone improvisations helped set the standard for the instrument and his arrangements helped chart the course for the Swing Era.  His career continued into the new millennium.  In the 1940s, he became a noted film and television composer--one of the first African Americans to penetrate the Hollywood studios.  He led a parallel career as a jazz bandleader and soloist on both alto sax and trumpet, touring worldwide into his nineties. Carter received many awards, including the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honors, several Grammys, and honorary doctorates from Princeton, Harvard, the New England Conservatory, and Rutgers.

He enjoyed a close relationship with Rutgers and the Institute of Jazz Studies.  In addition to creating the Berger-Carter endowment, he led a fundraising campaign for IJS and served as artist-in-residence for the Jazz Program at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School, where he delivered the commencement address in 1991. 

More information about the Berger-Carter awards, as well as a complete list of previous award recipients, may be found on the IJS website:


About the Institute of Jazz Studies
The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University – Newark is the largest and most comprehensive library and archive of jazz and jazz-related materials in the world. IJS was founded in 1952 with a donation of the vast collection of jazz lover and pioneering historian Marshall Stearns. In 1966 the IJS became part of Rutgers University, and in 1994 moved to its current home at the John Cotton Dana Library, 185 University Ave., Newark. The collection includes extensive and rare recordings, publications, instruments, and artifacts of jazz history, and is the designated repository for archives of jazz greats including Benny Carter and Mary Lou Williams. IJS presented decades of radio programs on WBGO, Newark public radio, as well as “Jazz Research Roundtables” presenting the world’s foremost jazz scholars, and concerts of leading jazz performers.  More information is available at

About Rutgers University–Newark
Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) is a diverse, urban, public research university that is an anchor institution in New Jersey’s largest city and cultural capital. Nearly 11,500 students are currently enrolled at its 38-acre campus in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered through the Newark College of Arts and Sciences, University College, the Graduate School-Newark, Rutgers Business School – Newark and New Brunswick, the School of Law-Newark, the School of Criminal Justice, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration. An engine of discovery, innovation, and social mobility, RU-N has a remarkable legacy of producing high-impact scholarship that is connected to the great questions and challenges of the world. A pivotal strength is that RU-N brings an exceptional diversity of people to this work—students, faculty, staff, and community partners—increasing its innovation, creativity, engagement, and relevance for our time and the times ahead. For more information please visit

PHOTO: Benny Carter with Rutgers students in 1986.