Biography

Biography

Press from All About Jazz in reference to the DIVA Jazz Orchestra's 25th Anniversary recording by Geannine Reid:

"Mercedes Beckman's solo is breathtaking, she takes an Eric Dolphy approach to her solo, which adds to the excitement and depth of the performance. I don't like to compare players, but how often do you get to bring Dolphy's name into a review, not often and that is a compliment. Her use of wide intervals, in addition to using an array of extended techniques to phrase various rhythmic groupings over the pulse is Dolphian, as is the slightly abstracted bebop inspired melodic flow against the harmony."

Mercedes Beckman is a jazz alto saxophonist whose uniquely personal voice has been formed by studying the greats of the jazz tradition, and continues to evolve.  Mercedes is the newest member of the Jazz Ambassadors, the premiere, touring Army big band as well as the DIVA Jazz Orchestra and is a bandleader of a quintet/sextet with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz for Young People program.  She has recently toured a lot with DIVA and with other JFYP bands.  Mercedes has shared the bandstand with Jeff Tain Watts, Arturo O'Farrill and the Latin Jazz Orchestra, Marcus Printup, Eddie Allen, Christian McBride, David Smith, Joe Magnarelli, Don Braden, Diane Schuur, members of the Count Basie Orchestra, and more.  Mercedes has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Jazz Standard, the Blue Note, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Smalls, NJPAC, the Deerhead Inn, the NYC marathon, the Apollo theatre, Zinc Bar, DROM, WhyNot Jazz Club, Tomi Jazz, Iridium, Swing 46, NUBLU, the Garage and more (Manhattan); Catalina's Jazz Club (LA), Williamsburg Music Center, Shapeshifter Lab (Brooklyn), ArtKafe (Portugal), the Lincolnville Jazz Festival with Doug Carn (FL), and the North Sea Jazz Club in the Netherlands.  Mercedes can be heard on a handful of CDs as a sideperson.  A synesthetic who developed perfect pitch at age 19, Mercedes was mentored by jazz master Bunky Green at the University of North Florida and then went on to complete her master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with the great artists John Riley, Donny McCaslin, Rich Perry, Phil Markowitz, and the late Joe Temperley. Mercedes recently completed a tour throughout Mexico with the Marcus Printup Quintet as well as a tour in Canada with local musicians. Mercedes is also very active as an educator; she substitutes for the jazz and classical faculty at Manhattan School of Music Pre-college program, maintains a private studio, and gives guest masterclasses. She is currently working on launching her Women through the Ages project, which translates personal stories into musical events that examine social inequality throughout history and draws parallels between yesteryear and current events.

Mercedes uses Vandoren mouthpieces, ligatures, and reeds, and neckstraps; she doubles on tenor, baritone, soprano saxes, flute, alto flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet