Jazz Is Now! Curatorial Fellowship

Jazz Is Now! is the Museum’s educational and interactive Fellowship developed and curated by NJMH Artistic Director Jon Batiste. Fellows are world class artists emerging who present original compositions, curate series and direct and headline Museum performances. This initiative is made possible through a generous grant from the New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship program.

2023 Jazz is Now! Fellows

Cleo Reed


Cleo Reed is a sound composer, performer, and multi-disciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Recently, they developed software instruments for Jon Batiste’s “American Symphony” at Carnegie Hall. Their debut album project, “Root Cause,” is out now and has received support from Bandcamp, Vinyl Me Please, Pitchfork, and OkayPlayer, amongst others. In addition to the release, Cleo presented “Root Cause” as a self-directed performance art piece titled “Black American Circus” as a part of BRIC’s Artist-In-Residence program.

Cleo is also a recipient of the 2022 NYC Women’s Fund for Media Music and Theatre, and a 2022 Art Omi Fellow. Cleo is an alumni of Harlem School of The Arts and a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music. At 19, Cleo Reed named themselves after Cleophus, their great-grandmother and a fellow Aquarius. Whether underground or academic, experimental or popular, they express musicianship guided by their radiance, femininity, and cyclical traumas.

Gengis Don

Gengis Don graduated at the top of the class from the School of Hip Hop. As a drummer, producer, songwriter, & engineer, Gengis combines his deep knowledge of Hip Hop and his study of jazz/improvisational music to create the music of Gengis Don & The Empire.

Described as the love child of Jazz & Boom Bap, Gengis Don has a sound that represents today’s social climate, while staying true to his roots in groove and Hip Hop. A Brooklyn native, Gengis grew up listening to New York artists like 50 Cent, Ja Rule, Ashanti, Notorious B.I.G., Fat Joe, Nas, and Jay Z. Those influences are evident in his gritty, unapologetically dirty, sound on drums.

At just 27 years of age, Gengis has worked with some of the world’s best artists, drumming and producing for: Solange, Bilal, ASAP Ferg, Standing on the Corner, Klein, keiyaA, Melanie Charles, Anna Wise, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Marquis Hill, Christopher McBride, Alina Engibaryan, Portugal The Man, Pink Siifu, Jon Bap, and many more.

2022 Jazz Is: Now Fellows

Endea Owens

Bassist and bandleader Endea Owens brings joy, mastery and celebration to all her projects, from her role as house bassist in Stay Human with Jon Batiste on “The Late Show with Steven Colbert” to her own signature project, The Community Cookout. Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist of 2019 and Detroit native, Owens is a vibrant up-and-coming bassist. She has been mentored by the likes of Marcus Belgrave, Rodney Whitaker and Ron Carter. She has toured and performed with Jennifer Holliday, Rhonda and Diana Ross, Jazzmeia Horn, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Steve Turre, and Lea DeLaria from the Netflix Original Series “Orange is the New Black.”

Joel Ross

A steadfast improviser on the vibraphone, Joel Ross saturates live sets with a lyrical intuition equally grounded in melody and phrasing. He plays the moment. Rather than impose energies on the music, he allows moods to set, linger and transform. Playing thoroughly in the broad, resonating tradition of Black music, Ross draws inspiration for his layered expression from vital, intersecting scenes of his native Chicago. Imbibing nuanced traditions from improvised music hubs to the church, he embraced a range of gestural possibilities he’d begun refining in New York. Now based in Brooklyn, he regularly performs across the country and around the world.

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