8th Annual Next Generation Jazz Festival Kicks Off 3/30/2012

8th Annual Next Generation Jazz Festival Kicks Off 3/30/2012

The Monterey Jazz Festival, a leader in jazz education since its inception in 1958, is pleased to announce the 8th Annual Next Generation Jazz Festival, featuring the nation's most talented middle school, high school, conglomerate school, and college jazz musicians and vocalists. The Next Generation Jazz Festival will take place in historic downtown Monterey from March 30 - April 1, 2012.

Now in its eighth successful year in downtown Monterey, the Next Generation Jazz Festival evolved from the Festival's California High School Jazz Competition, started in 1971, and held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds for 35 of its 41-year history. Now named the Next Generation Jazz Festival, the weekend salute to the future of jazz has expanded to include middle school, conglomerate school, and college level musicians and vocalists.

The Next Generation Jazz Festival is now accepting applications from middle school, high school, and college big bands; from high school and college level conglomerate bands; from open combos; and from high school combos and vocal jazz ensembles through January 22, 2012. Application forms may be downloaded at the Monterey Jazz Festival's website, montereyjazzfestival.org. The application process is free of charge, as is participation in the prestigious event.

Next Generation Jazz Festival finalists are selected through recorded auditions reviewed and ranked by faculty from the Berklee College of Music, and will include 12 big bands, six combos, and eight vocal ensembles in the High School Division. Six college-level big bands and six college vocal ensembles will also be selected, in addition to six conglomerate and six middle school big bands, and six Open Combos. In addition, specially-invited groups will also perform. In 2011, over 54 groups from across the United States and Japan attended the Next Generation Jazz Festival.

The high school, conglomerate school, and college divisions of the Next Generation Festival Jazz Competition are open to superior rated big bands, combos, and vocal ensembles. The top big bands, combo, and vocal ensemble will win cash awards and be invited to perform at the 55th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, September 21 - 23, 2012.

Auditions will also be held for chairs in the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, which is slated to tour at jazz venues and festivals throughout North America, as well as being featured on the Monterey Jazz Festival's Sunday afternoon Arena/Lyons Stage.

The event also includes a big band composition competition, open to high school composers. Judged by college faculty from leading music schools across the country, the winning composer will receive the Gerald Wilson Award and a cash prize, with the winning composition to be performed by the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra on the final day of the 55th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, Sunday, September 23, 2012, on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena before a crowd of thousands.

All Next Generation Jazz Festival events and activities -- from Friday night's Kick-Off Concert through Saturday and Sunday's High School Jazz Competition -- are open to the public, free of charge. The Festival will also 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 Plaza Hotel, Fisherman's Wharf, and Cannery Row.

Interested schools and students should visit montereyjazzfestival.org for instructions on how to apply to the Next Generation Jazz Festival. Applications with an audition tape/CD should be mailed to: Next Generation Jazz Festival, c/o Jazz Education Director, 9699 Blue Larkspur Lane, Suite 204, Monterey, CA, 93940.

Featured during the weekend of music will be the award-winning trumpeter, Ambrose Akinmusire, who has been selected as the Monterey Jazz Festival's Artist-In-Residence for 2012. Akinmusire will work with young student musicians in performance, clinics and one-on-one sessions at the Next Generation Jazz Festival and the Festival's Summer Jazz Camp, in addition to performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival and at other concerts and events throughout the year.

Started in 2004, the Artist-In-Residence program has brought Regina Carter, Branford Marsalis, Kurt Elling, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Dianne Reeves and Joshua Redman to the Monterey Bay; their involvement and interaction with students provides a unique educational opportunity through mentorship that will last a lifetime.

Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, winner of the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, recently made his major-label debut on Blue Note Records.

The Oakland, California-born trumpeter attendEd Berkeley High School and was a member of the 1999 and 2000 Monterey Jazz Festival's High School All-Star Band. While still in the Berkeley High School Ensemble, he caught the attention of the visiting saxophonist Steve Coleman, who later hired Ambrose as a member of his Five Elements band for extensive European tour. Akinmusire was just 19 years old.

After graduating from Berkeley High School in 2000, he moved to New York to begin a scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Vincent Penzerella, Dick Oatts, Lew Soloff, and Laurie Frink. He performed publicly with Lonnie Plaxico, Stefon Harris, Josh Roseman, Vijay Iyer, Charlie Persip, the Mingus Big Band, and the San Francisco Jazz Collective, to name a few.

Ambrose returned to the West Coast in 2005 to pursue a master's degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and simultaneously attended the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. His teachers include Terence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Billy Childs and Gary Grant. He has worked with such artists as Jimmy Heath, Jason Moran, Hal Crook, Bob Hurst, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Jason Moran, Wallace Roney, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. After graduation in 2007, Ambrose won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition in the space of one week.

After making appearances on recordings by Steve Coleman, Vijay Iyer, Alan Pasqua, Walter Smith III, Josh Roseman, Esperanza Spalding, Aaron Parks, and more in the 2000s, Ambrose made his major-label debut in 2011, releasing When the Heart Emerges Glistening on Blue Note Records. Pop Matters said that the record "...should send shivers up every jazz fan's spine" and Jazzwise Magazine said "...Akimusire is already showing signs of being a major creative figure in the making." The Los Angeles Times wrote "...he seems practically predestined for a breakout in 2011."

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