Baltimore, MD – June 20, 2018 – Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and FACE Foundation have announced six grants totaling $120,000 in support of the 2018-2019 French-American Jazz Exchange (FAJE) program. The program is designed to foster the creative and professional development of jazz artists from both countries through their collaborative investigation of artistic practice and exposure to new audiences, musical concepts, and professional relationships. The French-American Jazz Exchange is made possible through the generous support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, Fondation ChanelInstitut FrançaisMinistère de la Culture et de la Communication, and Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs de Musique (SACEM).

The following projects were recommended and approved for funding:

Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble featuring Arturo O’Farrill (United States)
with Malika Zarra (France)

Middle Eastern Roots of Afro Latin Jazz is a musical exploration of the Arabic and North African roots of Afro Latin Jazz and Afro Cuban music. The project is led by pianist, composer and band leader Arturo O’Farrill (founder and Artistic Director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance) in collaboration with French Moroccan vocalist and composer, Malika Zarra and will trace the Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean roots of what has come to be known as “jazz”. Arturo and Malika will collaborate to compose and arrange a suite of music for the Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble that will blend traditional roots with contemporary improvisational jazz. Through public performance, this project will give audiences the opportunity to experience a deeper appreciation and understanding for the universality of the musical traditions of the Americas and the commonalities that seemingly different cultures and traditions actually possess.

Claudia Solal (France) with Katherine Young (United States)
The project, Antichamber Music, will employ the creative process of improvisation to musically reinterpret Chamber Music, collection of poems by the influential Irish poet and writer, James Joyce. Antichamber Music is a collaboration between French-vocalist, Claudia Solal and American musician, Katherine Young who pairs her classical mastery of the bassoon with the use of electronics to manipulate and magnify the unique sound of the instrument. The quartet also features French pianist, Benoit Delbecq and Chicago-based sound artist Lou Mallozzi, on turntables and electronics. Antichamber Music is a meeting of the musical universes of jazz electroacoustic music, contemporary improvisation, and pop made possible through the intertwining creative visions of the participating musicians.

Etienne Charles (United States) with Vincent Segal (France)
United States-based jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles and French cellist, Vincent Segal will bring together an eclectic group of musicians for this unique project to tell the story of the migrations between the Caribbean and South America and the resulting musical influences. Charles and Segal will compose and arrange works for a quartet also featuring New York musicians, Jorge Glem on cuatro and Or Bareket on bass. The compositions will create a new soundscape in jazz chamber music highlighting distinctive musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds (French, Venezuelan, Israeli, and Trinidadian) who improvise on instruments that have limited representation in the jazz idiom.

Isabelle Olivier (France) with Rez Abbasi (United States)
This project, titled In Between #2, is a collaboration between French harpist, Isabelle Olivier and Rez Abbasi, an award-winning American guitarist and composer originally born in Pakistan. The pairing of harp and guitar will provide unique compositional and improvisational opportunities in melody, harmony, rhythm, and sound. In addition to the creation of new music, this project will connect to a broad audience through intergenerational and intercultural workshops and public performance in a wide variety of spaces including parks and gardens.

Sylvain Rifflet (France) with Jon Irabagon (United States)
French saxophonist and clarinetist, Sylvain Rifflet and New York based saxophonist, Jon Irabagon will continue their collaboration through a new project inspired by France and the United States’ shared value for civil rights and activism. Based on this common foundation, Rebellion(s) will explore the everlasting link between music and politics. Rifflet and Irabagon will research and examine songs within their musical cultures that have inspired revolution or have been written during or about protests. Rebellion(s) will pay homage to jazz musicians that have and continue to create socially charged compositions reflective of the times. Through Rebellion(s), Rifflet and Irabagon will explore how jazz composition and improvisation can imitate expressions of revolt.

Laika Fatien Thomas (France) with Brian Blade (United States)
French vocalist, Laika Fatien Thomas seeks to explore the theme of “resilience” through an experimental songwriting and performance process with American drummer, Brian Blade and ensemble members Christopher Thomas and Geoffrey More. The project will take a creative approach that frees up overall structure, configuration, and composition without judgement while incorporating unique combinations of instrumentation, song structures, lyrical concepts, and emotional consciousness not normally found within the jazz world. Instrumentation would include the addition of theatrically visual portions to the show, creating an interactive sonic and visual experience.

Experienced artists and arts professionals from France and the United States, were selected to review the applications submitted for consideration and make grant recommendations. They included:

  • Nasar Abadey, Peabody Institute Jazz Studies Professor of Percussion (Cheverly, MD)
  • Macha Gharbian, pianist (Paris, France)
  • Maggie Pelleyá, General Manager of WDNA (Miami, FL)
  • Benjamin Tanguy, Artistic Director of Jazz à Vienne (Vienne, France)

The French-American Jazz Exchange, co-administered by FACE Foundation and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, annually awards grants through a competitive application process to support projects that take place either in France or the United States and their territories or both, within a 18-month period. Individual artists or ensembles whose members are citizens or permanent residents of France or the United States and are based in their resident countries are eligible to participate in the program. Funding may be used towards artist stipends, communications, equipment and space rentals, marketing, recording and production fees, shipping, travel-related expenses, and visa fees.

Additionally, FAJE artists have the option to participate in the FAJE Tours program. Nonprofit presenters in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and West Virginia are eligible to receive fee-subsidy for booking selected ensembles.

French inquiries should be directed to Cultural Services of the French Embassy at American inquiries should be directed to Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation at

About Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation develops partnerships and programs that reinforce artists’ capacity to create and present work, advance access to and participation in the arts. For more information on the Foundation’s programs and services, please visit:

About FACE Foundation
FACE Foundation is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting French-American relations through innovative cultural and educational projects. In partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, FACE Foundation promotes artistic, literary and educational exchange and collaboration between creative professionals from both countries. With additional corporate, foundation, and individual support, FACE Foundation administers grant programs in the performing and visual arts, cinema, literature, and secondary and higher education, while providing financial sponsorship to French-American festivals and other cultural initiatives.

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital innovation, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals and innovators to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit