Austin Zhang X Michael Shapira

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Austin Zhang

How does a first-generation Chinese American boy raised in suburban Texas end up devoting his life to the study and mastery of jazz in Harlem? Your guess is as good as mine, but here I am. I started out listening to Dexter Gordon while mowing lawns, humming Confirmation in math class, and playing Deep Ellum bars by night. I left my hometown to study at the Manhattan School of Music where I met some of the most important mentors in my life: Jaleel Shaw, Stefon Harris, John Riley, and Wynton Marsalis. These mentors live the artistic excellence, empathy, and depth of character that exemplify this music and its history; their tall tradition I seek to continue. Since then I’ve had the great fortune to share the stage with giants of this music: Terri Lyne Carrington, Wycliffe Gordon, Lynn Seaton, Mino Cinelu, and others. In 2019, I immersed myself in the world of music technology and co-founded the NYC music production studio, Brave Sound Productions. My current interests often veer quite far from the mold of traditional jazz but swing is and always will be my home.

Michael Shapira

I grew up in Long Island, New York with my mother, father and two older sisters. Enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music since 2017, I have been living in West Harlem and gigging/leading my own band around the city at some venues like Dizzy’s Club, Kitano Jazz, Tomi Jazz and the 55 Bar. I was a member of the New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band for two seasons, where I had the incredible opportunity to play with great artists at Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as do volunteer work at local schools and nursing homes in Manhattan and the Bronx.  In 2019, I was chosen by Jazz at Lincoln Center to share the stage with Erica Von Kleist in Whitefish, Montana for a MLK memorial concert, where I had the opportunity to work with high school students in her program as well as perform alongside her in a state-wide broadcasted radio performance.  Outside of the jazz world, I have a lot of musical experience, playing percussion in many of the Manhattan School of Music productions, as well as in summer stock and community theaters. Last summer, I played over 400 shows in Kings Dominion Theme park, with two different bands: Yacht Rockers and Hot Rhythm Nights. This was through the entertainment company RWS and was an excellent opportunity to gain entertainment experience. I’m also the co-founder of Brave Sound Productions, a business Austin Zhang and I started.