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Monterey Jazz Festival Announces 2020 Next Generation Jazz Festival Results

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Monterey Jazz Festival Announces 2020 Next Generation Jazz Festival Results

Monterey Jazz Festival has announced the results of the 2020 Virtual Next Generation Jazz Festival which took place April 3-9. A full list of top groups can be found on the education tab on montereyjazzfestival.org.

The 2020 Virtual Next Generation Jazz Festival was a reimagining of the 50-year-old event in the age of COVID-19, taking place on the Monterey Jazz Festival's Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube, and Twitter social media channels. Students were encouraged to post videos of themselves as well and interact with the content, with total engagement reaching 37,987. The overall digital reach of educational videos and interviews from past and present Artists-in-Residence Christian Sands, Gerald Clayton, John Clayton, Allison Miller, and other artists' content was 146,624.

Past NGJF alumni shared their memories of the NGJF in social posts. Gerald Clayton, the 2017 Artist-in-Residence, recalled in an introduction video that as a high school student at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, a frequent finalist at the NGJF since 1995, that "the highlight of our year was getting to work up a bunch of material in the big band, drive up to Monterey and compete against some of the best musicians I had ever heard up to that point."

Pianist Benny Green wrote in a Facebook post: "When I attended as a Berkeley High School student in the late 1970s, I remember...it was essentially structured around a weekend of visiting clinicians auditioning and adjudicating California high school jazz bands, small groups and soloists, awarding citations of merit, plaques and funky '70's bicycle chain art trophies (I still have mine today)."

Other content included bassist John Clayton presenting a video that answered submitted questions from students; Allison Miller's video on keeping swing time on drums; Gerald Clayton's masterclass on the compositional process; two interviews with MJF Artistic Director Tim Jackson and Christian Sands, and Tanya Darby's discussion of sectional playing. Archival performances from past NGJF participants from Benny Green, Donny McCaslin, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Gerald Clayton at the Monterey Jazz Festival also premiered on the social media channels.

During the week of April 3-9, the NGJF judges adjudicated the submitted tapes from schools and programs, with the results announced by Christian Sands on April 9. The top 21 groups from five states were cited for honors in eight divisions, including groups from Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, and Washington State. Eighteen of those groups are slated to appear at the 63rd Monterey Jazz Festival in September.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the adjudication process of this year's Virtual Next Gen Festival - although I would have loved to be there in person so much, it was still a beautiful experience to listen to all of the great music by these bands and get to hear them play, from my home in New York City," said NGJF adjudicator Taylor Eigsti. "At a time of much uncertainty in the world, it gave me a sense of hope for the future of this music. There are some seriously great young bands and musicians out there, who prove that this will always be an important artform for all generations. These groups I heard showcased so many amazing young improvisers having fun with exploring the music, and so many talented artists that we will all look forward to hearing for years to come."

Results by Division

In the High School Big Band Division, top honors went to Folsom High School Big Band (Folsom, Calif.), Curtis Gaesser, director. It will be their big band's 12th performance at MJF since 1992, and their first win since 2013. Second place went to Rio Americano High School AM Jazz Ensemble (Sacramento, Calif.), Josh Murray, director, who will be making their 18th appearance at MJF since 1988. Third place went to Las Vegas Academy of the Arts Big Band (Las Vegas, Nev.) Patrick Bowen, director. This will be their big band's third MJF performance since 2008.

In the High School Combo Division, top honors went to Rio Americano High School Mingusauras (Sacramento, Calif.), Josh Murray, director. It will be Rio's first win in the combo division. The runner-up was Crossroads School Jazz A Band, (Santa Monica, Calif.), Evan Avery, director. Third place was Los Alamitos High School Combo A (Los Alamitos, Calif.), Justin Padilla, director.

In the High School Vocal Ensemble Division, top honors went to Folsom High School Jazz Choir I (Folsom, Calif.), Curtis Gaesser, director. They have won the division 15 times since 1991, and this year will be the choir's 22nd appearance at MJF. The runner up was Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Vocal Jazz Ensemble (Los Angeles, Calif.), Pat Bass, director. The ensemble will make their 13th appearance at MJF in 2020. Third place went to Valencia High School Two N' Four (Valencia, Calif.), Christine Tavares-Mocha, director.

In the High School Conglomerate Big Band Division, three ensembles were adjudicated by submission to perform at MJF63. In alphabetical order, the three top bands were the Colburn Jazz Workshop Big Band (Los Angeles, Calif.), Lee Secard, director (their first appearance at MJF in this division); the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Big Band (San Francisco, Calif.), Paul Contos, director (making their seventh appearance at MJF since 2011); and the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Big Band (Tucson, Az.) John Black, director, for their second appearance at MJF since 2012.

In the High School Conglomerate Combo Division, two ensembles were adjudicated by submission to perform at MJF63. In alphabetical order, the top bands were the Colburn Jazz Workshop Thursday Night Band (Los Angeles, Calif.), Lee Secard, director (their second appearance at MJF since 2018); and the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory New Soil Combo (San Diego, Calif.), Gilbert Castellanos, director, and is the conservatory's first win in the division, making their first MJF appearance

In the College Big Band Division, three ensembles were adjudicated by submission to perform at MJF63. In alphabetical order, the three top bands were University of Illinois Jazz Trombone Ensemble (Urbana, Ill.), Jim Pugh, director, making their MJF debut); the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Jazz Ensemble I (Las Vegas, Nev.), Dave Loeb, director (making their second performance at MJF since 2017); and the University of Southern California Thornton Jazz Orchestra (Los Angeles, Calif.), Bob Mintzer, director (making their third appearance at MJF since 2011).

In the College Vocal Ensemble Division, two ensembles were adjudicated by submission to perform at MJF63. In alphabetical order, the ensembles are the Bellevue College Jazz Singers (Bellevue, Wash.), Thomas Almi, director (making their MJF debut); and Mt. San Antonio College Singcopation (Walnut, Calif.), Bruce Rogers, director (making their third MJF appearance since 2010).

In the College Combo Division, two ensembles were adjudicated by submission to perform at MJF63. In alphabetical order, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Honors Trio (Las Vegas, Nev.), Dave Loeb, director (the trio's second appearance at MJF since 2018), and the University of Southern California Thornton Jazz Composers Collective (Los Angeles, Calif.), Vince Mendoza, director (with USC's third combo appearance at MJF since 2014).


For a complete list of top ensembles please visit the education tab on montereyjazzfestival.org.


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