The Next Generation Cometh.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Next Generation Festival kicks off on Friday at 7pm with a free concert by some of the top jazz musicians here to adjudicate the student competitions. Held in the Portola Plaza’s DeAnza Ballroom, the jam session includes some of jazz’s most prodigious players, including pianist Shelly Berg, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, bassist Ray Drummond, saxophonist Mary Fettig, drummer Yoron Israel, baritone saxophonist Aaron Lington, trombonist Andy Martin, vocalist Michele Weir, and saxophonist and vocalist Rosana Eckert.
The opening night continues at Monterey Live with a performance and clinic by the Berklee/Monterey Jazz Quartet, a band showcasing some of the leading students at Boston’s vaunted Berklee College of Music. Led by guitarist Bryan Baker, the band features saxophonist Aaron, electric bassist Bryan, and drummer Nick Falk. The group performed at last year’s Monterey Jazz Festival and made a lasting impression.
The 36th Annual National High School Jazz Competition opens bright and early at 8:30am on Saturday, as a dozen big bands, six combos and seven vocal groups from around the nation start duking it for a coveted spot at the Monterey Jazz Festival (as well as trophies, cash prizes and scholarships).
Vocalist Kurt Elling leads the Vocal Solo Workshop at 11am in the Portola Plaza’s DeAnza Ballroom. By the end of the day, three finalist big bands will be selected to fight for the top spot on Saturday night. Winners of all events, along with individual winners of scholarships and trophies, will be announced at the conclusion of Saturday night’s big-band finals. Saturday concludes at Monterey Live with a student jam session, giving competitors of all ages a chance to perform together in front of an appreciative audience.
The toughest competition will be for spots in the MJF Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, an invaluable showcase for emerging jazz talent. The band will perform at major jazz clubs and festivals throughout the world, including gigs at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and the Jazz Standard in New York City, the International Music Festival in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy. The NGF Orchestra completes its tour backing Kurt Elling at the 49th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
The latest Next Generation addition is the College Big Band Competition, which gives college students the opportunity to joust for honors and serve as mentors for the younger musicians.