Thursday, April 10, 2008

MJF's Next Generation Festival Results

Monterey Jazz Festival Announces
Next Generation Festival Results
Over Fifty Groups From Four Continents Perform
Throughout The Weekend of April 3 - 6, 2008
Top Groups To Perform At 51st Monterey Jazz Festival,
September 19 - 21, 2008

38th National High School Jazz Competition Results:

Top High School Combo
Acalanes High School, Lafayette, CA

Top High School Vocal Ensemble
Folsom High School Jazz Choir “A”, Folsom, CA

Top High School Big Band
Buchanan High School, Clovis, CA

Top College Big Band
California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA

Top Conglomerate Big Band
Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra, Portland, OR

Monterey Jazz Festival is proud to announce the results of the 4th Annual Next Generation Festival, incorporating MJF's 38th Annual National High School Jazz Competition. In the High School Big Band category, top honors went to Buchanan High School “A” (Clovis, CA), directed by Paul Lucckesi. The runner-up was Rio Americano High School (Sacramento, CA), directed by Josh Murray. Third place went to the Las Vegas Academy (Las Vegas, NV), directed by Patrick Bowen.

In the High School Combo category, top honors went to Acalanes High School (Lafayette, CA), directed by Rick Meyer. Second place went to the Los Angeles High School for the Arts, directed by Jason Goldman. Third place went to the Buchanan High School “A” (Clovis, CA), directed by Paul Lucckesi.

In the Vocal Ensemble category, top honors went to the Folsom High School Jazz Choir “A” (Folsom, CA), directed by Curtis Gaesser. Second place went to the Los Angeles High School for the Arts, directed by Pat Bass. Third place was shared by Downey High School (Downey, CA), directed by Cory Oalriu and

Dos Pueblos High School Jazz Choir (Goleta, CA), directed by Brian Slotnick-Lastrico.

In the College Big Band category, top honors went to California State University Northridge (Northridge, CA), directed by Matt Harris. Second place went to the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI), directed by Ellen Rowe. Third place went to California State University Long Beach (Long Beach, CA), directed by Jeff Jarvis.

In the Conglomerate category, top honors went to the Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra (Portland, OR), directed by Thara Memory. Second place went to the Jazzschool Studio Band (Berkeley, CA), directed by Keith Johnson. Third place went to the SFJAZZ High School All Stars (San Francisco, CA), directed by Dee Spencer.

As expected, all the categories were very highly competitive--some ensembles were separated by single digits or less by the judges, who took into account the quality of all aspects of the music and performance, including time, intonation, style and presentation, creativity and solos. For the vocalists, the areas of focus were tone, intonation, diction, artistic interpretation, vocal technique and more.

For a complete list of top ensembles, outstanding soloists and scholarship recipients, please visit
Appearing at the 51st Monterey Jazz Festival in September 2008 in the Night Club will be the Acalanes High School Combo, the Folsom High School Jazz Choir and Los Angeles High School for the Arts Vocal Ensemble; the Buchanan, Rio Americano, and Las Vegas Academy High School big bands; the Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra and the CSU Northridge big band. The Buchanan High School Big Band will appear on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena to open the Sunday show on September 21, 2008.

The 4th Annual Next Generation Jazz Festival got off to a strong start on April 3rd with a performance by A Christian McBride Situation in the Golden State Theater. Blending an eclectic mix of old and new sounds and attitudes, the group ebbed and flowed with a completely improvised hour-and-a-half set that traversed the sonic landscape from funk and space with the natural cadences that improvisation represents.

The following night, the Monterey Jazz Festival's Annual Salute to Jazz Education opened the Kick-Off Concert for a standing room only crowd in the Golden State Theatre. With awards to educators and students, plus performances by Monterey County Honor Bands and the Next Generation Festival judges, the concert recognized both local and internationally-renowned talent for an appreciative audience convening from four continents. Performing the first half of the concert were the young musicians of the Monterey County High School All Star Band, Middle School Honor Band, and the Honor Vocal Jazz Ensemble. For a complete list of Salute to Jazz Education award winners, please visit

The final portion of the concert featured the Next Generation Festival Judges, including the incredible talents of Christian McBride (bass); George Duke (piano); Billy Harper (tenor saxophone); Paul Contos (alto saxophone); Lauren Sevian (baritone saxophone); Sal Cracchiolo (trumpet); Terri Lyne Carrington (drums); Ron Westray (trombone) Dave Carpenter (bass); Corey Christiansen (guitar) and vocalists Lynne Fiddmont and Rosana Eckert. Playing to packed house, the electricity of the jazz masters performing in small all-star groups seemed like its own little jazz festival. The concert ended with an old-style “cutting” session with the soloists onstage, trying to outdo each other, in what was a rousing and good natured display of musical wizardry. After the Judges concert, across the street at the nightclub Monterey Live, the Berklee Latin Jazz All Stars played two free sets, displaying their masterly command to an amazed audience. Both high-energy sets were a foreshadowing of the music to come over the weekend.

Saturday’s activities included over sixty back-to-back performances in four locations in Downtown Monterey, including the historic Fisherman’s Wharf, the nightclub Monterey Live and the Monterey Conference Center. The participating bands performed with precision, taste and professionalism that belied their young looks on stage.

Tourists and fans in large numbers gathered at Fisherman’s Wharf to see the bands under the clear and sunny skies, including the performances by the first ever international groups at the Festival: the Mad Hatters, from the Tomisato High School Big Band in Japan, the Prague Conservatory of Music Jazz Band from the Czech Republic and the Blackburn High School Big Band from Australia.

In addition, several clinics were held at the Next Generation Festival, including a Q&A with Christian McBride, who clearly was in his element, giving advice to students and recounting several humorous stories about his career. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and vocalist Rosana Eckert also held audiences rapt with master classes for young students and fans alike.

Early Saturday evening, there was feeling of anticipation and nervous energy in the air, emanating from attendees in the packed Serra Ballroom. With the announcement of the High School Big Band finalists, and the top Vocal Ensemble and Combo performers an explosive response rang out from the soloist winners, scholarship winners, and from the winning groups and their supporters. The big bands from Buchanan, Rio Americano, and Las Vegas Academy would perform once more in the evening. Each school was a powerhouse in their abilities, and in the end, the Buchanan High School emerged in the top position, announced at 10 PM to the capacity filled room. Each school performed with a musical daring and polish that proves that jazz education is on solid footing in an era of reduced funding of the arts.

Saturday lasted late into the evening with two student jam sessions for both novice and experienced musicians. A jam session hosted by the Berklee Latin Jazz All Stars, gave young students a chance to perform with some of most talented players at the Festival. Les Rose led a clinic on jam sessions for young musicians as well.

Sunday’s schedule began with the final components of the Next Generation Festival: the Middle School, Conglomerate, and College Big Band performances. In the Steinbeck Forum, six middle school bands--some with members that were barely teenagers--played with intense devotion and ebullience to the room of beaming parents and family members. The Middle School category is non-competitive in nature, except that the road to the Next Generation Festival is the same as other competitive categories--the six selected schools are indeed the best schools of all the applicants. In addition, a special performance clinic and critique was held by college band directors and middle school judges Ellen Rowe, Matt Harris and Jeff Jarvis, giving tips and valuable advice to the young performers.

Downstairs in the Serra Ballroom, the new Conglomerate category was also underway. Representing the best of the high school big bands from a particular region of the country--and upping the ante in the quality of the performances, each band was an all-star congregation of young players that come together to perform in addition to their regular high school programs. With incredible flair and talent, this category proved to be an exciting new development for the Next Generation Festival. Ultimately, the Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra from Portland emerged as the top Conglomerate ensemble, with their unique and idiosyncratic take on the big band repertoire.

The college big bands, some of the most accomplished in the nation, were commanding and fluid in their performances. Each band was truly unique--from the angular Central Washington University to the cascading sound of Sacramento State to the strong and intense performance from the University of Michigan. The large crowd of fans in the Steinbeck Forum gave loud and appreciative approval. Closing the College Division competition was a special performance from the Prague Conservatory of Music Jazz Band from the Czech Republic, which confounded and dazzled the crowd with its genre-smashing and style-hopping performance of all original music from band director Milan Svoboda--and the crowd demanded three encores! In the end, it was the dense-sounding Cal State Northridge that earned the top position of the College Division and the performance slot at the 51st Monterey Jazz Festival.

Also on Sunday, behind closed doors, live auditions for the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra were taking place. The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra is the Monterey Jazz Festival's national high school showcase band, filled with all-star performers from around the country. The prestigious orchestra is slated to perform in July 2008 in the Netherlands at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, as well as at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for a special performance and recording project. Student musicians also auditioned for the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship, a four-year, full tuition scholarship to Berklee College of Music, named in honor of the MJF's founder.

After four days and over eighty events in 5 locations, the 4th Annual Next Generation Festival came to a close, with the Buchanan High School Big Band, the Acalanes High School Combo, the Folsom High School Vocal Ensemble, CSU Northridge Big Band, and the Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra as the new champions. All the students, fans, judges and educators who came to the Next Generation Festival will have memories of 2008 that will carry into the future of their extraordinary weekend in Monterey.

Borders was a very prominent player in the success of the Next Generation Festival weekend. A Borders store was set up in the Conference Center lobby, the hub of NGF activities, offering CDs by the Competition judges and MJF related books and CDs. JazzTimes distributed over 500 free copies of their magazine to eager students and fans. J. D'Addario & Company gave away reeds, strings, and other complimentary products. Longtime MJF partner Yamaha not only provided instruments for Next Generation Festival stages, but had nonstop visitors dropping by the lobby to play their DTXPRESS IV series electronic drum sets.

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