April 22, 2008, Monterey, California -- The Monterey Jazz Festival is proud to announce members of the 2008 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, the Festival's internationally-renowned high school all-star big band. Created as a part of the Monterey Jazz Festival's continuing commitment to jazz education, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra includes the most talented high school jazz students from all regions of the United States. The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra (formerly known as the MJF High School All-Star Big Band from 1971-2004) nurtures the future generation of jazz stars through a program that selects the best and brightest high school jazz musicians in the country. In 2008, the twenty-one-piece jazz orchestra features members selected from eighteen high schools from the four corners of the country, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington. Eleven states have contributed members this year in an unprecedented cross-section of the best high school jazz programs in the country. As in the past, these students will speak for their generation as loudly and clearly as their predecessors, which include pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Chad Wackerman, and saxophonists Joshua Redman and Dave Koz, to name a few. A list of members of the 2008 NGJO appears at the end of this press release and is available on the Monterey Jazz Festival website, www.montereyjazzfestival.org.
Under the direction of Mr. Paul Contos, the renowned saxophonist and flautist who serves as the director of the Orchestra, the ensemble is dedicated to the study and performance of the most challenging big band literature available. "The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra for 2008 will once again be the superlative collection of advanced high school jazz musicians in the United States, demonstrating their skill and musical prowess by performing repertoire of the most innovative and carefully crafted arrangements and compositions currently written for jazz orchestra,” said Paul Contos, Director of the NGJO. “The members represent eleven states and will be showcasing a variety of jazz styles and key soloists within the ensemble. These players have already garnered reputations as highly skilled and prominent voices for the future of jazz.” The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra will embark on its annual summer tour, starting with rehearsals at the Berklee College of Music in Boston on July 5 followed by passage to the 33rd Annual North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on July 7. While in Rotterdam they will perform three times, returning to Boston on July 13. The NGJO will then record an album at the Berklee College of Music and perform a special concert for students in the school’s prestigious Five-Week Summer Performance Program on July 15. Culminating their tenure in the band, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra will perform with saxophonist Maceo Parker at the 51st Monterey Jazz Festival Presented by Verizon on September 20th on the Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage, and with bassist and 2008 MJF Artist-In-Residence, Christian McBride, on the Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage on September 21. Members of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra were selected through a rigorous audition process that included review by a national panel of judges comprised of professional jazz musician/educators.
The Monterey Jazz Festival invited interested students to audition for the NGJO via video tape or in person, during MJF's 4th Annual Next Generation Festival, held April 3 - 6 in downtown Monterey. “I am really pleased with the substantial increase in the number of applicants for the NGJO this year both in the video and live auditions,” said Dr. Rob Klevan, Education Director for the Monterey Jazz Festival and Next Generation Festival. “I guess you could say that the good word about this band is out! According to our judges, the level of talent applying for this prestigious ensemble was just plain exceptional. I look forward to hearing this outstanding group of individuals perform both this summer and at the MJF next September!” In 2008, there are seven returning members of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra: trombonists Stephen Szabadi and Javier Nero; saxophonists John Palowitch, Adam Larson and Owen Broder; and trumpeters Kevin Early and Nick Frenay. John Palowitch of Pleasanton, California is the only three-time member of the NGJO this year and has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy; the International Music Festival in Dubrovnik, Croatia; the Hilton in Paris, France; New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Jazz Standard and Sweet Rhythm as well as on the Arena/Jimmy Lyons stage of Monterey’s 49th, 50th and 51st Festivals. The Monterey Jazz Festival is also proud to announce the winner of the Next Generation Festival's prestigious Big Band Composition Competition, Sean Richey.
Mr. Richey is a senior at Buchanan High School in Clovis, California and plays guitar with the Buchanan High School Big Band. The winning composition, "40 Days and 40 Nights," will be given its MJF premiere on the Arena/Lyons Stage of the Monterey Jazz Festival by the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, September 21. Mr. Richey will also receive a $1000 prize and new music writing software from Sibelius. Honorable Mention for the Composition Competition is shared by guitarist Arian Shafiee, from Skyline High School in Oakland, California for "Geisha," and trumpeter Aaron Bahr, a senior at Campolindo High School in Moraga, California for "Circular Logic."