2018 Next Generation Jazz Festival Judges and Adjudicators

The 2018 Judges will perform at the Opening Night Judges Concert Presented by the California Jazz Conservatory at the Monterey Conference Center in downtown Monterey on March 9, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. 

Dan Balmer, guitar
Shelly Berg, piano
Tanya Darby, trumpet

Alan Ferber, trombone
Joel Frahm, tenor saxophone
Tia Fuller, 2018 Artist-in-Residence, alto saxophone
Sara Gazarek, vocals
Ingrid Jensen, 2018 Artist-in-Residence, trumpet
Kendrick Scott, drums

Fletcher Sheridan, vocals
Gary Smulyan, baritone saxophone
George Stone, sight-reading, Gerald Wilson Award
Katie Thiroux, bass
Michele Weir, vocals

From Berklee College of Music, the Ethan Santos Quintet, clinicians

Ethan Santos, trombone (Clovis, Calif.)
Nathan See, alto saxophone (Peoria, Ill.)
Domitille Degalle, piano/keyboards (Paris, France)
Ciaran Fontenot, bass (Portland, Ore.)
Jasmine (Jas) Kayser, drums (Bristol, United Kingdom)



Dan Balmer, guitar

Dan Balmer is Instructor of Jazz Guitar and Jazz Combos at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has long been considered one of the finest guitarists, composers, and educators in the Northwest. In 2009, Dan became one of only five Oregonians to be honored with membership in both the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and the Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame. From 2005-2009 Dan toured and recorded with two-time Grammy winner Diane Schuur playing in over 15 countries and 60 cities. When not on the road with Ms. Schuur he leads his own groups and continues his long-standing gigs with drummer Mel Brown, David Friesen, and others.

Shelly Berg, piano

Shelly Berg is a Steinway piano artist and four-time Grammy-nominated arranger, orchestrator, and producer. His album projects The Deep (Chesky), The Nearness of You (Arbors), Blackbird (Concord) and The Will (CARS) are critically acclaimed. Berg earned three Grammy nominations in the Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) category with jazz singer-lyricist Lorraine Feather and international superstar Gloria Estefan, and a fourth Grammy nomination as co-producer of Gloria Estefan: The Standards (Sony). Recent projects include recording and/or performing with Tony Bennett, Seal, Lizz Wright, Andra Day, Clint Holmes, Renée Fleming, and Arturo Sandoval. He is also the host of a monthly radio show Generation Next on Sirius XM, music director of The Jazz Cruise, and artistic advisor for the Jazz Roots series at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

An award-winning educator with 39 years of leadership in higher education, Shelly Berg is Dean and Patricia L. Frost Professor of Music at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He was previously the McCoy/Sample Professor of Jazz Studies at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and a past president of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). In 2003 he was honored as Educator of the Year by the Los Angeles Jazz Society and in 2002 received the IAJE Lawrence Berk Leadership Award. In 2000, the Los Angeles Times named him one of three “Educators for the Millennium.”

His textbooks include Essentials of Jazz Theory, the Chop-Monster beginning improvisation series, Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (Alfred Music) and Jazz Improvisation: The Goal-Note Method  (Kendor). He has appeared as a performer and lecturer throughout the United States as well as in Canada, China, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Japan, Romania, and Venezuela.

Tanya Darby, trumpet

Assistant Professor Tanya Darby teaches lead trumpet lessons and Introduction to Jazz Recordings and directs the Three O’clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas College of Music. Darby is from Seaside, Calif., went to Monterey High School and was a three-year member of MJF’s California High School All-Star Band from 1992-1994, (predecessor of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra) and a member of MJF’s Monterey County High School All-Stars, with whom she toured Australia.

She earned a master's degree in Jazz Performance from Rutgers University in 2012 and a bachelor's degree in Jazz Performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 1998. Formerly an adjunct faculty member at Temple University and the New School University, she is a current member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Roy Hargrove Big Band, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Ron Carter’s Great Big Band, Michel Camilo Big Band, Rufus Reid Large Ensemble, and Manhattan Jazz Orchestra.

Tanya’s accomplishments as a lead trumpet player keep her in demand. She has played lead in numerous bands, and has performed and toured with the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Mingus Band, Clark Terry, Jon Faddis, Paquito D’Rivera and the United Nation Orchestra, Gladys Knight, Frank Foster Loud Minority Big Band, Bill Cosby, Slide Hampton, George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, Rufus Reid Large Ensemble, Jimmy Heath’s Queens Jazz Orchestra, Cab Calloway Orchestra, Dianne Reeves, and many others. She has appeared on the television show BET on Jazz as part of the T.S. Monk Sextet, and performed with Aretha Franklin as part of the Arista Records Twenty-Five Year Anniversary Special on NBC.

She can also be heard on recent recordings Mother's Touch (Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band); the Grammy-nominated Over Time—The Music of Bob Brookmeyer and Forever Lasting—Live in Tokyo (Vanguard Jazz Orchestra); A Swingin' Life (DIVA Jazz Orchestra); and the Grammy-nominated Quiet Pride: A Suite for Large Ensemble (Rufus Reid).

Joel Frahm, tenor saxophone

Born in 1969 in Racine, Wisconsin, saxophonist Joel Frahm attended the Mason Gross School for the Arts and earned his B.A. in Jazz Performance at Manhattan School of Music. He released three highly regarded recordings on Palmetto: The Navigator, Don't Explain (with Mehldau), and Sorry No Decaf.  A number one record on jazz radio and CMJ’s college radio charts, Joel has also been selected in DownBeat Magazine’s Critics Poll as a Rising Star in the tenor saxophone category.

Having made a name for himself over 20 years through his associations with singer Jane Monheit and childhood friend, pianist Brad Mehldau, Joel has also worked with a vast array of musical peers and jazz legends including Maynard Ferguson, Betty Carter, Matt Wilson, Larry Goldings, Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Andrew Hill, Ben Allison, Pat Martino, Ingrid Jensen, Dena Derose, the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Kyle Eastwood, and many others.

Alan Ferber, trombone

Three-time GRAMMY-nominated trombonist-composer-arranger Alan Ferber has been called “one of the jazz world’s premier composers and arrangers for larger groups” by All About Jazz New YorkJazz Times magazine describes Ferber’s compositions as “inspired and meticulous” and the L.A. Weekly deems him “one of the premier modern jazz arrangers of our time.” For the last seven years, he has been recognized as one of the leading trombonists of his generation in DownBeat magazine’s International Critics’ Poll and Readers’ Poll. Ferber was the recipient of a 2013 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America, funded by the Doris Duke Foundation. Since 2011, he has been an Adjunct Professor of jazz studies at New York University’s Steinhardt School. 

He has released eight albums as a bandleader, most recently, Jigsaw, for 17-piece big band (Sunnyside Records 2017). DownBeat magazine listed it as one of the best CDs of 2017, and Jigsaw has also been nominated for a 2018 GRAMMY award for "Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album."

In the jazz world, he has performed and/or recorded with Best New Artist GRAMMY-winner Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society, the Dr. Lonnie Smith Octet, the Ted Nash Big Band, Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors, MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenon’s Identities Big Band, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, the Charlie Hunter Quintet, Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus, the David Binney/Edward Simon Group, the Lee Konitz Nonet, John Ellis’s Double Wide, the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, and Don Byron’s Mickey Katz Project. 

He has worked extensively in other genres as well with artists including Peter Gabriel (Live at the Ed Sullivan Theater), Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens (Age of Adz & All Delighted People), The National (on Grammy-nominated Trouble Will Find Me), Dr. Dre, Harry Connick Jr, Michael Buble, and Beirut.  His discography lists over 150 CDs on which he has played trombone and/or composed and arranged music.

In addition to New York University, Ferber has also been on faculty at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music. He has worked regularly on the faculties of several summer jazz programs including the Taipei International Summer Jazz Academy, the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the Lafayette Summer Music Jazz Workshop, Cal State University’s Summer Arts Perspectives In Jazz program, and the Maine Jazz Camp. He has appeared as a clinician and soloist with numerous universities including Stanford University, the University of Oregon, Cal State Northridge, Kansas University, the University of Miami, the Lawrence Conservatory, Middle Tennessee State University, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Tia Fuller, 2018 Artist-in-Residence, alto saxophone

Mack Avenue recording artist Tia Fuller is a touring artist and full-time professor at the Berklee School of Music. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta (Magna Cum Laude) and her Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder (Summa Cum Laude). Tia was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with R&B star, Beyoncé, as part of the I AM…Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé Experience World Tour, and has played in various venues throughout the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. She is a featured soloist on the Beyoncé Experience DVDs Me, Myself and I, and I am...Yours and also appeared on number of major television shows, such as the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, Good Morning America, BET Awards, the American Music Awards, Total Request Live, the 2010 Grammy Awards, and has performed as the featured soloist with Beyoncé for President Obama at the White House.

Tia has recorded four CDs with her quartet, and has performed world-wide at the Angola, Croatia, South Africa, North Sea, Umbria, and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and New York’s prestigious Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, just to name a few. Tia can also be seen touring regularly with a number of bands, including: Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project and Money Jungle “Provocative in Blue.” She is the assistant musical director for Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society tour, and Dianne Reeves’ Beautiful Life tour. She has also performed with luminaries such as the Ralph Peterson Septet, Rufus Reid Quintet, Geri Allen, the Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, Wycliff Gordon Septet, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Chaka Kahn, Ledisi, Kelly Rowland, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, Pattie Labelle, Nona Hendryx, Sheila E, Valerie Simpson, Dionne Warwick, Janelle Monet, Patrice Rushen, Erica Badu and Aretha Franklin.

As a devoted educator, Tia is a full-time Professor at Berklee College of Music, where she directs the prestigious Rainbow Big Band and Rainbow All-Stars, in addition to six other ensembles including repertoire and jazz improvisation classes. In addition, she presents lectures, residencies and masterclasses at some of the most respected institutions in the country. 

Sara Gazarek, vocals

Championed by some of music’s most celebrated figures, Sara Gazarek has emerged as a strikingly original artist with limitless potential. With four highly acclaimed CDs under her belt at the young age of 34, Sara has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “the next important jazz singer,” and “impeccable” by the Winnipeg Free Press, Sara continues to seamlessly combine the intimacy of singer/songwriter stylings with the musical and improvisational elements of jazz. Blessed with a gorgeous, translucent voice, excellent pitch, and supple sense of time, Gazarek is steeped in the jazz tradition, but is not afraid to embrace the music that moves her generation. Her newest album, Dream in the Blue (2016, Steel Bird Music) was released to rave reviews, as Dan Bilawsky of All About Jazz has noted the record features “…one of the best modern day piano-voice matches in action.” Sara is currently on faculty at the University of Southern California, leading the award-winning vocal jazz ensemble there, and teaching privately.

Ingrid Jensen, 2018 Artist-in-Residence, trumpet

Born in Vancouver and raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Ingrid Jensen has been hailed as one of the most gifted trumpeters of her generation. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1989, she went on to record three highly acclaimed CDs for the ENJA record label, soon becoming one of the most in-demand trumpet players on the global jazz scene.

After a teaching stint in Europe in her early twenties—as the youngest professor in the history of the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria—Ingrid settled in New York City in the mid-1990s where she joined the innovative jazz orchestras of Maria Schneider (1994-2012) and Darcy James Argue. More recently, Ingrid has been performing with the Grammy-winning Terri Lyne Carrington and her Mosaic Project. Ingrid is a featured soloist on the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra’s Juno Award-winning album, Treelines (2011), and its successor, Habitat (2013).

She has performed with a multi-generational cast of jazz legends ranging from Clark Terry to Esperanza Spalding. Ingrid has also performed alongside British R&B artist Corrine Bailey Rae on Saturday Night Live, and recorded with Canadian pop icon Sarah McLachlan. In addition to her busy sideman and featured soloist schedule, Jensen leads her own quintet, quartet and organ trio. Her own bands have garnered glowing reviews and a loyal fan base in Australia, South Africa, almost every country in Europe, across Canada, the United States, South America (including Brazil, Peru and Chile), Japan and Mexico.

Jensen is also a dedicated jazz educator, having taught trumpet at the University of Michigan and Peabody Conservatory, performing and lecturing as a guest artist with the Thelonious Monk Institute High School group featuring Herbie Hancock, and performing and teaching at the Centrum Jazz Workshop, the Brubeck Institute, the Banff Centre Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music, the Stanford Jazz Workshop and the Geri Allen Jazz Camp for young women.

From Berklee College of Music, the Ethan Santos Quintet

Trombonist Ethan Santos is a graduate of Buchanan High School in Clovis, California. At the age of 13, Paul Lucckesi introduced him to jazz and the trombone, both of which he fell in love with immediately. Ethan learned about his craft under great teachers, including Les Nunes, Luis Bonilla, Scott Whitfield and Wycliffe Gordon. Throughout high school, he got to share the stage with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Donny McCaslin, Hubert Laws, and others. In 2016, Ethan was chosen as a recipient of the Berklee College of Music Presidential Scholarship.

In his year at Berklee, Ethan has had the pleasure of working with great musicians and educators, such as Ralph Peterson, Danilo Perez, Tia Fuller, Robert Glasper, Marshall Gilkes, Gary Burton and George Garzone. He has also played in venues such as Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, Scullers Jazz Club, the Berklee Performance Center, and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Although he is primarily a jazz musician, Ethan actively performs with funk, salsa, hip-hop, pop and classical groups, and the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. Ethan is fortunate to be pursuing a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance in a large, diverse, and musical community.

Alto saxophonist Nathan See was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois. He started playing saxophone in fifth grade and quickly became a standout in his school band program. He soon discovered jazz and started to take music very seriously, performing frequently around central Illinois and taking part in programs such as the ILMEA All-State Honors Jazz Combo and the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop.

During his senior year, Nathan auditioned for Berklee College of Music and was awarded a full tuition scholarship. At Berklee, Nathan has had the opportunity to study with George Garzone, Ralph Peterson, Tia Fuller, Darren Barrett, and perform/record with Gary Burton, Bill Frisell, Robert Glasper, Sean Jones, Bill Pierce, and Darcy James Argue. He has performed at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, the Belize International Jazz Festival, the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, and several other venues around the country. Nathan is currently in his final year and will graduate in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance.

Domitille Degalle (DOMi) is a young pianist, keyboardist and producer from France.
Within just two days of arriving in the US, DOMi’s first Facebook video went 800k viral. At 17 years old, she drew the ears of “Sput” a.k.a Robert Searight II of Snarky Puppy, Louis Cole of KNOWER and an endorsement by Spectrasonics (Omnisphere, Keyscape plugins). The youngest new name to keyboard innovators, her sound world is inspired by a melting pot of jazz, groove, hip-hop, classical, gospel and soul.

At age two she picked up the drums and started learning piano. At age 16 she was awarded the full Presidential Scholarship by Berklee College of Music. A sound of new future - sonic Domi is for fans of Robert Glasper, Cory Henry and can be caught live with her collaborators Sput and Louis Cole.

Ciaran Fontenot was born Portland, Oregon in 1995. He picked up the bass guitar at 14 and upright bass at 16 years old. He studied bass with Andre St. James. After high school, Ciaran enlisted into the US Army Band and attended the US Army School of Music.

After graduating, Ciaran returned to Portland and played in the 234th Army Band and around Portland before attending Berklee College of Music in the fall of 2016 on merit and military scholarships. Ciaran has shared the stage Esperanza Spalding, Bob Mintzer, and many prominent Portland musicians. He has performed in venues like Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater, Scullers Jazz Club, Jimmy Mak's, and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Jasmine “Jas” Kayser is a drummer, percussionist, pianist and composer from England. She moved to Boston when she was 18 years old to study Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music. Now she is continuing her studies at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute for a master’s degree in Contemporary Performance.

She began learning drums with her twin brother Ash when they were 9 years old. At 11 years old she went to Wells Cathedral School as a specialist musician studying Drum Kit, Jazz Piano and Classical Percussion. She then joined the Purcell School in London in 2012 to further her studies in jazz. She was a member of the National Youth Jazz Collective, National Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy. She has been a contestant in the semi-finals of BBC Young Jazz Musician 2014, and also placed in the finals of the international female drummer competition Hit Like a Girl of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

She is currently an active musician in the Boston area under the mentorship of top class musicians such as Ralph Peterson, Neal Smith and Terri Lyne Carrington. She has played with various bands and artists such as Jacques Schwartz-Bart, Ralph Peterson and Donald Harrison at venues such as Scullers Jazz Club, Ryle’s Jazz Club, Wally’s Café and the Red Room at Café.

Kendrick Scott, drums

Drummer and composer Kendrick Scott was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in a family of musicians. By age eight, he had taken up the drums and he later attended Houston’s renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a school which has produced an impressive array of musical talent including Scott’s label mates Jason Moran and Robert Glasper, as well pop star Beyoncé, and many others. While still attending HSPVA, Scott won several DownBeat Magazine student awards, as well as the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Award from the International Association of Jazz Educators. He was later awarded a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music, where he majored in music education.

Scott has toured with Herbie Hancock, Charles Lloyd, The Crusaders, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kurt Elling, and Terence Blanchard, also appearing on several of the trumpeter’s Blue Note albums including Flow (2005), A Tale of God’s Will (2007), and Magnetic (2013). As a leader, Kendrick has released three albums with Oracle, including The Source (2007); Conviction (2013); and We Are the Drum (2015).

Scott is also a member of Our Point of View, an all-star group formed in 2014 for Blue Note Records’ 75th anniversary, and includes Ambrose Akinmusire, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, Lionel Loueke, and Marcus Strickland. Scott resides in New York and is developing his reputation as a performer, composer, teacher, and student of music. Scott proudly sponsors Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Danmar Percussion, Puresound Percussion and Vater Drumsticks.

Gary Smulyan, baritone saxophone

Baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan is critically-acclaimed as one of the major voices on the baritone saxophone today. As a teenager growing up on Long Island, Gary had the opportunity to perform with Lee Konitz, Chet Baker, and Jimmy Knepper. In 1978 he was asked to join Woody Herman's Young Thundering Herd, which at that time included Joe Lovano, Marc Johnson and John Riley. He left Herman in 1980 and moved back to New York to join the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, led by Bob Brookmeyer. Mr. Smulyan has recorded and performed worldwide with Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Tom Harrell, Cedar Walton, George Coleman, Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, Tommy Flanagan, Chick Corea, Diana Ross, Clark Terry, Kenny Wheeler, Charles McPherson, James Moody, and Slide Hampton, among others.

He has recorded five CDs for the CrissCross label, and currently performs with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Joe Lovano Nonet, the Dave Holland Octet and Big Band, The Three Baritone Saxophone Band, the George Coleman Octet, the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band and the Tom Harrell Octet, as well as his own projects.

Over a span of 20-plus years, Gary has won the DownBeat and JazzTimes Critics and Readers Polls multiple times for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year in addition to winning the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Jazz Journalists Association Award for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year. Mr. Smulyan is currently on faculty at William Paterson University and is a clinician and endorser for Vandoren Woodwind Products and Keilworth Saxophones. 

George Stone, sight reading, Gerald Wilson Award

George Stone has enjoyed a substantial career in music performance, composition, arranging and education for over 30 years. He currently directs the Audio Technology Program and teaches Music Theory and Composition at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Born and raised in Newhall Calif., George was a product of the strong local music programs and teachers of the Santa Clarita Valley, eventually graduating from CSU Northridge. He began working in the recording session industry and by age 21 he was directing his own Los Angeles big band and writing for live shows and television, including the NBC Tonight Show Orchestra led by Doc Severinson.

A few artists with whom he has been privileged to work include Dave Grusin, Tom Scott, Jack Jones, Bobby Shew, Donny McCaslin, Dave Tull, Maynard Ferguson, Wayne Bergeron and Bob McChesney. He has composed for NBC, HBO, Warner Brothers and Disney. He is also the composer of the most famous MIDI song of all time, “Trip Through the Grand Canyon” (Canyon.Mid) that was released on over 66 million copies of Microsoft Windows.

George has appeared as a guest composer/clinician at numerous universities and he has literally adjudicated hundreds of jazz festivals throughout the country. He has guest conducted jazz honor bands in and out the state, and most recently conducted the CBDA CA State Jazz Honor Band in 2017.

He is the recipient of the Cuesta College Outstanding Academic Employee and Teacher of the Year award, recognizing his numerous contributions to the college, staff and students of Cuesta and the surrounding community of San Luis Obispo.

George’s compositions and arrangements are released through publishers worldwide. He is commissioned regularly by high school, college and professional bands to compose new music for jazz ensemble. His big band recordings feature his charts performed by the greatest musicians on the scene today. With new compositions on L.A. trumpeter Wayne Bergeron’s newest CD Full Circle, and the US Air Force Band of the Golden West, George remains active in creating exciting new music in the big band format. His His recordings and published charts can be found on his website.

Katie Thiroux, bass

Rising star Katie Thiroux is a bassist, vocalist and composer. Coming from a musical family in Los Angeles, Katie began her career in music at age four on violin and switched to bass at eight. By age 10, she was performing in principal vocal roles in the LA Opera and Opera Pacifica. She began studying privately with jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton at the age of 12, and in 2005, Thiroux began a mentorship with John Clayton. Among her many awards, she’s received the Shelly Manne New Talent from the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and in 2006, Katie was awarded the full-ride Phil Ramone Presidential Scholarship to Berklee College of Music.

After teaching at the Berklee International School in Quito, Ecuador, she returned Los Angeles, where completed her master’s degree at California State University Long Beach on full scholarship in 2012. In 2015, Katie was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk Competition. She has performed at jazz festivals in the United States, Mexico, Germany, Finland, Serbia, Singapore and Switzerland as both a leader and a sideman. In addition, Thiroux often incorporates workshops for students and audiences.

Her debut record, Introducing Katie Thiroux was released in 2015, and received many awards including "Debut Record of the Year" from the Huffington PostAll About Jazz, the Jazz Journalists Association and "Top 5 Debut Records of the Year" from the NPR Jazz Critics Poll. Katie’s latest recording, Off Beat, features pianist Justin Kauflin and drummer Matt Witek, as well as saxophonist Roger Neumann and saxophonist and clarinetist Ken Peplowski. It has already been cited by DownBeat as one of the “Best Albums of 2017.”

In 2018, MJF welcomed Katie as one of the Traveling Clinicians in the Jazz in the Schools program, one of the core year-round educational initiatives that was pioneered by the Monterey Jazz Festival beginning in 1983.

Michele Weir, vocals

Over a lifelong career in music, Michele Weir has touched the lives of students around the globe and powerfully influenced the growth and development of jazz education. Through her volumes of creative arrangements for vocal and instrumental groups, and her talents as a pianist and singer, Michele is profoundly respected for her versatile skill set and ability to inspire. As one student put it, “Thank you again for being such an amazing mentor. You are truly the person I strive to be.”

Michele’s arrangements are performed by renowned vocal groups including the Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices, the Swingle Singers, M-Pact, Beachfront Property, Chanticleer, Voice Trek, and her orchestral works played by various symphonies including the Boston Pops. Her educational arrangements are distributed by leading publishers including Hal Leonard, Alfred Publishing, Shawnee Press, SMP Jazz as well as her own online company, MichMusic. As Vocal Producer for the Manhattan Transfer’s 2009 CD release, The Chick Corea Songbook, Michele worked closely with the Transfer and contributed two arrangements to the project. Other arrangements or compositions have been featured on the Shari Lewis TV show, Disney’s 101 Dalmations Sing-along CD, and the Holland America Cruise line.

Currently on faculty at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Michele taught previously at USC, CSU Long Beach, and the Phil Mattson School. As a highly sought-after teacher and clinician, Michele has been invited to teach in 23 countries to date and has delivered presentations for some of the world’s most prestigious music conferences including the World Choral Symposium, the IAJE and JEN Conferences, and the ACDA National Conference. Her educational book/CD sets, Vocal Improvisation (Advance Music), Jazz Singer’s Handbook (Alfred Publishing), and Jazz Piano Handbook (Alfred Publishing) are available internationally.

Michele’s past tours as pianist and/or singer range from Ogalla, Nebraska to Carnegie Hall, South Korea with Patti Kim to Atlantic City with Bobby Vinton, and more. A former vocal member of the Grammy Nominated PM Singers (under the direction of Phil Mattson,) Michele also contributed arrangements to the group’s concert repertoire and recordings. Her duo CD as a vocalist with jazz guitarist Bruce Forman is titled The Sound of Music. In her role as Music Supervisor for the DreamWorks film Prince of Egypt, Michele journeyed through Europe and Asia to oversee the music production for the film’s foreign language dubs.