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The Flame, as in "Keepers of the Flame," is a new project (2021 - Present) I began putting together after the passing of one of my close teachers and mentors, Ralph Peterson Jr.

During my studies, I had the honor and privilege to write for and perform in Ralph's band called, "The GenNext Big Band." Exclusively a band for Berklee students, he led this band with the idea to preserve the teachings of the Art Blakey "School of Music." (who was Ralph's mentor) as well as his own style. And when he passed away, left us a legacy to carry on as well as a responsibility to raise the bar for the future of Black American Music. In "The Flame," we choose to also bear the responsibility that Ralph left. 

Here is a little bit of information on the members of the album. 



Will Mallard is a trumpeter and pianist originally from Decatur, IL. Will moved to Boston in 2016 to attend Berklee College of Music where he studied trumpet performance with the likes of Jeff Stout, Tiger Okoshi, Jason Palmer, and Billy Buss. He also performed and recorded trumpet with Ralph Peterson’s Gennext Big Band on both records “I Remember Bu” and “Listen Up!”. Will also arranged for the band on tunes like “Arabia” and the shout chorus of “Uranus”. 


Will graduated from Berklee’s Boston campus in 2020 and went on to pursue a Masters in Contemporary Performance and Production at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. There he studied with amazing faculty including Perico Sambeat, Javier Vercher, Sergio Martinez, and Magdalini Giannikou.


Upon returning to the states, Will is an active sideman as well as directing his debut project under his own name entitled “A Brief Glimpse." 

Christian Napoleon, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, started playing the drums at age 3. He has performed alongside many different artists over his career, some include Ralph Peterson and his GenNext Bigband, Melissa Aldana, Tomoki Sanders and Morgan Faw. 

Napoleon is a student at Berklee College of Music, where he is studying music business/management with world-renowned musicians such as Ralph Peterson, Neal Smith, Dave Santoro. He performs with Tomoki Sanders in VISAGE, a genre-bending group that focuses on jazz improvisation with elements of experimental R&B and electronic music. 




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Ebba Dankel is an award winning pianist from Malmö,  Sweden. She started playing at the age of 6 and attended an advanced program in music at Malmö Latinskola in 2016-2019. After graduating, Ebba got accepted to Skurups Folkhögskola, considered one of Sweden's highest ranked jazz programs where she studied with Loïc Dequidt for 2 years. She has performed with different bands, along with her own band, Ebba Dankel Group. She is now a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston where she studies Jazz Composition and Performance with Pat Bianchi and Joanne Brackeen.

 Bassist Isaac Coyle originally hails from the California Bay Area. He began his musical studies on guitar at the age of 6, but switched to primarily playing bass at the age of 14. While in high school Isaac had the opportunity to study under many fantastic musicians such as Howard Wiley, Ben Wolfe, Jeff Chambers and others. He was also a part of honor bands such as the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and SFjazz High School All-Stars, while continuing to gig frequently around the Bay Area. He graduated from El Cerrito High School in 2019 and currently attends the Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full tuition scholarship, studying with World Renowned Artists such as Bassist Linda May-Oh as well as Saxophonist Tia Fuller . In his first year, Isaac had the brief opportunity to also play in Ralph Petersons GenNext Bigband (alongside Morgan Faw and Christian Napoleon).

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