Name: Sasha Berliner
Category: Concert Percussion
Location: New York, New York, United States
Sasha Berliner is a musician, composer, producer, and band leader from San Francisco, CA.
Sasha started playing drums at eight years old. She established her early musical foundation in group dynamics, song writing, live performance, and ear training from the extracurricular music program San Francisco Rock Project. This had a significant impact on what came to be Sasha’s primary rock and alternative influences, which include Bjork, Frank Zappa, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, and Marnie Stern. Sasha later established fundamental skills in harmony and on the piano, and decided to pursue a jazz emphasis at her high school, Oakland School for the Arts. Sasha picked up the vibraphone through her school at age 13. At school, Sasha studied primarily under saxophonists Howard Wiley and Dave Ellis, percussionist Jaz Sawyer, and pianist Alex Conde. Sasha also studied under conductor, guitarist, and award-winning composer Omid Zoufonoun, who’s intensive teaching style helped her acquire advanced classical based harmony and theory. With his help, she passed the AP Music Theory test, including classical written and aural theory, with a 5 at the age of 15. Her time at Oakland School for the Arts ultimately assisted in cultivating the melodic, improvisational, and theoretical skills she developed in her later years. Sasha’s diligent approach to learning her instrument was also reflected in her academic and self-motivational skills – Sasha ended her high school degree academically in the top 5% of her class with a 4.28 GPA, and won both academic and instrumental performance excellence awards every year.
Sasha has recorded music at studios such as the well renowned Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, Flux Studios in New York, and Jingletown Studios in Oakland, CA, recording both her own music and others’ music as a studio musician. She attended Victor Wooten’s Music Nature Camp in Nashville, TN in 2013. In that same year, towards the end of her time at San Francisco Rock Project, she was commissioned to arrange and lead a group performing one of multi-grammy award winning indie artist Beck Hansen’s songs alongside Beck himself. This took place at San Francisco’s primary symphony hall, seating over 2,700 people. She has also studied at Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain under vibraphonist Victor Mendoza in 2014, and at Stanford Jazz in both 2012 and 2016. Stanford awarded her “Outstanding Soloist” and “Best of Jazz to Come” awards through this program. She was also a two year member of director Paul Contos’ SF Jazz High School All-Stars Orchestra, the consecutive three-time winners of the conglomerate division at the Next Generation Jazz Festival through 2013-2015 and winner of the 2016 conglomerate division at the Portland Jazz Festival. She has won a Downbeat award with this group and was personally awarded an “Outstanding Dedication” award by the SF Jazz Education board. She was also a guest percussionist in the Oakland Youth Orchestra in 2015 and 2016, in which she played timpani, bells, xylophone, snare drum, and more. She had been awarded over $340,000 in music college scholarships and was a recipient of the Smalltune Music Scholarship in 2015. She has performed at such venues as the Fox Theater, Great American Music Hall, Treasure Island Music Festival, Davies Symphony Hall, the SF Jazz Miner Auditorium, Next Generation Monterey Jazz Festival, and Smalls Jazz Club. She has had the honor of sharing the stage with musicians such as Ravi Coltrane, Ambrose Akinmusire, Melissa Aldana, Kronos Quartet, Dan the Automator, Ledisi, Kenny Washington, and Pete Escovedo. She has received personal recognition from musicians such as Billy Hart, Sean Jones, Miguel Zenon, Obed Calvaire, and Vince Lateano.
Sasha is currently a freshman at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music on a virtually full scholarship. She studied her first semester under contemporary jazz vibraphone master Stefon Harris, who she was recommended to by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. She will finish the year out studying with vibraphonist Chris Dingman, although she will maintain long distance lessons with Stefon Harris. She also is in a selective improvisation ensemble at New School led by grammy-nominated drummer Matt Wilson. She also looks forward to leading her own group at the Jazz Gallery in Manhattan in the late spring. She plans to speak out about political and social justice through her music, something her Bay Area upbringings and instrumentalist background have passionately yielded. She hopes to become a catalyst in changing the discourse surrounding female instrumentalist representation in everything from jazz history textbooks to social atmospheres. She hopes to develop further sophistication in her sound and extend her musical abilities in New York and beyond.