Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Festival, March 30 - April 1, 2012

The Monterey Jazz Festival, a nonprofit leader in jazz education since 1958, is proud to announce its annual Next Generation Jazz Festival, March 30 - April 1, 2012 at the Monterey Conference Center. The weekend-long event, devoted to the future of jazz, includes the Next Generation Jazz Festival Jazz Competition with Big Bands, Combos, Vocal Ensembles, and individual musicians vying for a spot on the stages of the 55th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival. The event will be open to the public, free of charge.

With over 1200 students participating in the Next Generation Jazz Festival, Monterey Peninsula residents can enjoy the largest gathering of young jazz talent in the region, outside of the Monterey Jazz Festival itself. 65 groups from 12 states, Australia, and Japan will participate in the 2012 event, which includes the Festival’s 42nd Annual High School Jazz Competition. Click here for a full list of participating groups.

Introduced in 1971 as the California High School Jazz Band Competition by Monterey Jazz Festival Founder Jimmy Lyons, the competition was conceived as a way to bring talented student groups to Monterey, and to cultivate musicians for the future. Notable participants of the Jazz Competition and Next Generation Jazz Orchestra members (formally the California High School All-Star Band) include saxophonists Joshua Redman, Dave Koz and Dave Ellis; pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen; multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum; bassist Larry Grenadier, and many more. 2012 Next Generation Jazz Festival judges, saxophonist Mary Fettig and trumpeters Gilbert Castellanos and Ambrose Akinmusire are also alumni of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

California is represented by 47 ensembles from 14 counties–including Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. In addition, special guest groups include student ensembles from Japan and Australia, as well as groups from Oregon, Massachusetts and Michigan.

"Once again, the level of jazz playing flourishes throughout every performing division at the Next Generation Jazz Festival for 2012,” said Paul Contos, Education Director of the Monterey Jazz Festival. “We’re extremely pleased to be able to present this unique free educational experience that highlights the hard work these groups have been doing in preparation for this event. For students and directors from throughout the U.S. and international locations to be able to share this music with each other exhibits the true joy and collaborative spirit of jazz.”

The Next Generation Jazz Festival officially starts with the annual Opening Night Concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at the Monterey Conference Center. The opening night's activities will feature the Festival's annual Salute to Jazz Education, along with performances from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Septet and the internationally-renowned artists and competition judges, including pianist Shelly Berg, drummer Jeff Hamilton, saxophonists Joel Frahm, Mary Fettig, and Aaron Lington; guitarist Corey Christiansen; trombonist Wayne Wallace; trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire and Gilbert Castellanos; bassist Ray Drummond, and vocalist Nnenna Freelon.

There is also the opportunity to purchase optional VIP Gold Circle tickets for the Opening Night Concert, on Friday, March 30, for $50. VIP tickets assures seating in the front rows as well as an invitation to the post-concert “meet and greet” wine and cheese reception with the judges and Monterey Jazz Festival Artist-In-Residence, Ambrose Akinmusire.

The Festival will conduct clinics, workshops, jam sessions, and auditions in the heart of historic Monterey, with music to be performed at the Monterey Conference Center, the host Portola Hotel, the Red Snapper Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Museum of Monterey. The Next Generation Jazz Festival is also continuing its College Expo, allowing students an opportunity to visit with several colleges offering jazz and other music programs.

All Next Generation Jazz Festival competition events–from the exuberant and electric Big Band, Vocal Ensemble and Combo Competition on Saturday, March 31 and the College Big Band and Vocal Jazz Ensemble Competition on Sunday, April 1–are open to the public, free of charge.

For a complete schedule of activities and competition times, visit www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2012/NGJF

The Next Generation Jazz Festival Jazz Competition begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 31 in the Monterey Conference Center. Throughout the day, the high school groups will perform, with several educational clinics featuring the 2012 Monterey Jazz Festival Artist-In-Residence, Ambrose Akinmusire, and vocalist Nnenna Freelon.

The top Vocal, Combo, and Big Band divisions will be announced at 6:15 p.m. Saturday evening from the Serra Ballroom stage. At 8:30 p.m., the top finalists will perform a Showcase Concert–a preview of the groups performing at the 55th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival. The final rankings will be announced at the end of the evening.

The Next Generation Jazz Festival continues through Sunday, April 1 with Middle School, College, Conglomerate Big Band, Open Combo, and College Vocal Ensemble Divisions performing in the Serra Ballroom and Steinbeck Forum. The top college big band, college vocal ensemble, and conglomerate big band (to be announced during the day) will also earn a performance slot at the 55th Monterey Jazz Festival. Auditions will also be held for the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, the Monterey Jazz Festival’s national all-star high school band.

Major funding of the Next Generation Jazz Festival and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra performance tour comes from a three-year grant awarded by the Surdna Foundation. Surdna’s mission is to foster sustainable communities in the United States—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.

Next Generation Jazz Festival partners and supporters include longtime Monterey Jazz Festival partner Yamaha, providing instruments for Next Generation Jazz Festival stages. Additional support is provided by generous individuals and organizations such as AT&T Foundation, Nancy Buck Ransom Foundation, the Joseph Drown Foundation, the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, Evans Drumheads, Remo Drumheads, Zildjian Cymbals, Planet Waves Accessories, and Rico Reeds.

More information on all Next Generation Jazz Festival activities and events is available on the Monterey Jazz Festival Web site, www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2012/NGJF and by phone at 831.373.3366.

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