The Brubeck Institute is proud to welcome its new 2017-2018 Brubeck Fellows! They include trumpeter Evan Abounassar (California), saxophonist Isaiah Collier (Illinois), guitarist Xach Wagner (California), bassist Gabe Rupe (Colorado) and drummer Maya Stepansky (New Jersey).
Trumpet Player Evan Abounassar was born and raised in Southern California. Through his music, Evan has toured Japan and much of the US with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, the Grammy Band, and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He has performed on stages such as the Hollywood Bowl, the Dolby Theatre and the Walt Disney Concert Hall and worked with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Terri Lynn Carrington, Walter Smith III, Antonio Hart and the legendary recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder. Evan is in his first year as a Brubeck Fellow.
Saxophonist Isaiah Collier is a native of Chicago, Illinois and attended ChiArts High School. With his parents' encouragement, Isaiah began playing the saxophone at age 12. Isaiah has participated in the Monk institute for two years. During this time he has toured with Bobby Watson, Antonio Hart and Kelly Lee Evans. He has played with The AACM and many renowned and local artists. Isaiah is in his second year as a Brubeck Fellow.
Guitarist Xach Wagner is from Manteca, California. Xach started off playing rock in a kid band around the age of ten, he then transitioned into blues when he was twelve, and later jazz when he was a freshman in high school. He gained a passion for jazz due to the sophistication and technicality of the art form, and was inspired to find a unique sound through his playing and improvisation. His main inspirations consists of abstract artist Jean Michel Basquiat, saxophonist Joe Henderson, and guitarist Oz Noy. Xach is in his first year as a Brubeck Fellow.
Bassist Gabe Rupe is from Lafayette, Colorado. While attending Denver School of the Arts, Gabe found his voice through the Denver Jazz Scene and has played out in many venues throughout his home state in a variety of groups. Throughout his time as a musician, Gabe has won multiple awards of excellence for his playing. Gabe has participated in the 2016 Vail Jazz All-Stars, the 2016 Telluride Jazz All-Stars, the 2017 Jazz Band of America and is the 2017 YoungArts finalist in Jazz-Double Bass. Gabe is in his first year as a Brubeck Fellow.
Drummer Maya Stepansky is from Montclair, New Jersey. Maya began drumming at age 9 with Hillside's Drums of Thunder nationally-touring precision drum corps, followed by studies at Jazz House Kids, NJPAC, and Litchfield & Juilliard Jazz summer workshops. Awarded full merit scholarships to 2015 NY State Music Festival, 2016 NYU Jazz Workshop, and 2017 Berklee Newport Jazz Festival Institute, Maya was named a 2015 Stanley Kay Scholarship national jazz drums winner, 2017 GRAMMY Jazz Combo drummer, and honored to perform with and/or be mentored by such inspirational jazz artists as Billy Drummond, Oliver Lake, Sherri Maricle, Dave Liebman, Terri Lyne Carrington, Linda Oh, Wayne Escoffery, Tony Moreno, Billy Hart, Carl Allen, and Jeff Coffin. Maya is in her first year as a Brubeck Fellow.