October 3, 2023

MSM Student Spotlight
Grace Fox (BM ’25, Jazz Arts): “Put passion above everything!”

Jazz trumpter Grace Fox has had a very busy and exciting few months, performing at high-profile NYC jazz clubs with her ensemble, the Grace Fox Big Band, and playing lead trumpet with Grammy-winning artist Jon Batiste at Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival: “I was able to take that off my bucket list sooner than I expected!” she says.

Grace was a featured performer in the MSM Jazz Orchestra concert, Celebrating the Music of Thad Jones, earlier this month.

She spoke with us before the concert.

The Grace Fox Big Band, with Grace in center, seated


Grace Fox is a trumpeter and composer from New Jersey and a junior Jazz Arts major at MSM. She studies jazz trumpet under the tutelage of MSM Dean of Jazz Arts Ingrid Jensen, as well as Jon Faddis and Nadje Noordhuis.

Grace’s jazz ensemble, the Grace Fox Big Band, has an all-female lineup and recently released its debut album Eleven O’ Seven. Over the summer, the band was featured in the Times Square live music series and also played at iconic New York jazz clubs, Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Birdland. 

Also this summer, Grace played lead trumpet for Grammy Award-winning artist Jon Batiste at Carnegie Hall, The Newport Jazz Festival, and Brooklyn Steel. Grace also played lead trumpet in the Internationally Ellington Orchestra at Rose Hall Theater.

She is a Warburton Signature Artist, and a published artist under Brava Jazz.

Tell us about the upcoming MSM Jazz Orchestra concert celebrating the music of Thad Jones. Why should people come and see it?

Grace: Thad is one of the best big band composers in Black American history, hands down. His music made me fall deeply in love with big bands, so being able to play lead on this concert is very special.

Tell us about other special performances coming up for you this year.

Grace: I’m looking forward to the other big band cycle at MSM this year; after this concert honoring Thad Jones, there will be a concert celebrating the music of Wayne Shorter.

Grammy Award-winner Jon Batiste (center) and MSM Jazz Arts student Grace Fox (right) perform at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Tell us about what’s been a highlight for you over the past few months!

Grace: I had a gig at Birdland with my big band at the end of September, and over the summer we played a gig in the middle of Times Square which was an absolute blast, and such a different environment for a big band show!

It’s always great having everyone in the GFBB [Grace Fox Big Band] come together to play. Right now the band plays a few times a year, so moments together both on and off the bandstand are sacred to me.

I also played at the Newport Jazz Festival with Jon Batiste at the beginning of August, something I wasn’t expecting to cross off of my bucket list so early in my career!

“Put passion above everything… Remember to take advantage of the city and learn from the musicians around you. Those who never leave the practice rooms will stay in the practice rooms.”

What piece of advice do you have for anybody interested in pursuing Jazz Arts at MSM?

Grace: Put passion above everything. For me, jumping from the pandemic right into a conservatory environment was like a shock to my system, and I needed some time to fully adjust to the curriculum. Jazz education can be a great tool, especially with the killer faculty MSM has to offer, but remember to take advantage of the city and learn from the musicians around you. Those who never leave the practice rooms will stay in the practice rooms.

What are you listening to right now?

Grace: Oh man! I’ve been listening to tons of movie soundtracks lately. Scores by Dan Romer, Nicholas Britell, and Danny Elfman. I’ve also been checking out trip-hop artists like Wax Tailor, Ruckus Roboticus, and I Monster. Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite has been on repeat for a few months as well!

Grace Fox taking part in MSM JazzFest earlier this year

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