Genre-defying harpist Brandee Younger to collaborate with composer/ pianist Courtney Bryan, at the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas & The Caribbean (IRADAC)


February 10th 2017, Graduate Center of CUNY, NYC

In honor of the annual Black Women in Jazz Performance of IRADAC, Brandee Younger will join pianist Courtney Bryan during the second of two sets at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, located at 365 Fifth Avenue in NYC, on February 10th. On this highly anticipated night of music, Courtney Bryan will perform her “Songs of Laughing, Smiling, and Crying for Improvised Piano and Recorded Sound” from 6:30-7:30. At 7: 30, Bryan will then be joined on stage by the innovative jazz harpist, Brandee Younger, to showcase both of their original compositions and interpretations of Alice Coltrane’s music.  Visit the CUNY website for more information.

Courtney explains that Alice Coltrane is a major influence on both her and Brandee, and this concert is a chance to pay homage to Coltrane’s music and legacy. “It is a celebration of black women in jazz, as well as an opportunity to exhibit our own music as black women in jazz today,” says Bryan. Both Bryan and Younger are highly respected within the contemporary jazz scene; Bryan has released two critically acclaimed albums including 2007’s “Quest For Freedom” and 2010’s “This Little Light of Mine” and Younger’s 2016 album “Wax & Wane” placed on several best-of-2016 lists and garnered attention from NPR, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, The New York Times and others.


Downbeat’s John Murph claims that “If Younger continues to evolve as an improviser, bandleader, and composer, a masterpiece will surely be in her future”.

A classically train­ed harpist, New York native Brandee Younger is a graduate of the prestigious Hartt School of Music as well as New York University’s Steinhardt School. Over the past decade, Younger has shared the stage with a host of jazz luminaries including Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Pharoah Sanders and particularly Ravi Coltrane, whom she began working with in 2007 to honor his late mother Alice Coltrane. Her debut EP “Prelude” was released in June 2011 to critical acclaim. As a classical musician, Younger has been featured as a soloist with The Harlem Chamber Players and has performed with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, Waterbury Symphony, Soulful Symphony, Ensemble Du Monde, Camerata New York and the Red Bull Artsehcro, a “non-conformist” orchestra. In hop hop and R&B, Younger has worked with Common, Drake, John Legend and most recently, Lauryn Hill, to name a few. Younger has released three other recordings as a leader including the EP “Prelude”, released in 2011,“Live At The Breeding Ground”, released in 2014, and “Wax & Wane” from 2016.


Courtney Bryan, a native of New Orleans, La, is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Her music ranges from solo works to large ensembles in the new music and jazz idioms, film scores, and collaborations with dancers, visual artists, writers, and actors, and is in conversation with various musical genres, including jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Bryan’s recent compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation. She performs around the New York area, and is the Director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Bethany Baptist Church of Newark, NJ. Dr. Bryan has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), and a DMA in music composition from Columbia University of New York, with advisor George Lewis. Bryan has been an instructor at Columbia University and Oberlin Conservatory, and is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. In the fall of 2016, Bryan will join the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University as an Assistant Professor of Music. She has two independent recordings, “Quest for Freedom” (2007) and “This Little Light of Mine” (2010).


  • Courtney Bryan – Songs of Laughing, Smiling, and Crying for improvised piano and recorded sound (6:30-7:30pm)
  • Courtney Bryan and Brandee Younger – original compositions and music of Alice Coltrane (7:30-8:30pm)

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