Next Generation Jazz Orchestra


About the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra (NGJO)

Each year, Monterey Jazz Festival brings together 21 of the most accomplished high school jazz musicians from across the country to form an all-star touring jazz orchestra. The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra meets each summer to rehearse with Education Director Paul Contos before embarking on a domestic or international tour that includes performances at several well-known jazz festivals. The program culminates in a main stage performance in September at the Monterey Jazz Festival with the annual Artist-In-Residence.

Next Generation Jazz Orchestra (NGJO) members:

  • Play, listen and learn with peers who challenge them
  • Workshop, rehearse and perform with name Festival artists
  • Play exceptional arrangements like the pros
  • Experience life as professional jazz artists being an on-the-road touring ensemble
  • Experience the thrill of being a performer on the Jimmy Lyons Stage during the 60th Monterey Jazz Festival. 

Next Generation Jazz Orchestra History


2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra
Paul Contos, Director

Aaron Kranzler
, alto / Aragon High School, San Mateo, Calif.
Willie Bays, alto / Olympia High School, Olympia, Wash.
Abdias Armenteros, tenor / New World School of the Arts, Miami, Fla.
Solomon Alber, tenor / Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton, Calif.
Duncan McElman, baritone / Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, Calif.

Jasim Perales
*** / Berkeley High School, Berkeley, Calif.
Leo Markel / Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Rashaan Salaam / Dillard High School, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Wyatt Forhan / St. Dominic High School, O'Fallon, Mo.
Joshua Hernandez** (bass) / J.M. Hanks High School, El Paso, Texas

Carlos Ramos
*** / Downey High School, Downey, Calif.
Brandon Star / Smithtown High School East, St. James, N.Y.
Geoffrey Gallante** / West Potomac High School, Alexandria, Va.
Zaq Davis / Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Kate Williams / Vanden High School, Fairfield, Calif.

Luca Mendoza,** piano / Crossroads School, Santa Monica, Calif.
Jordan Reifkind, guitar / Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, Calif.
Gabriel Rupe, bass / Denver School of the Arts, Denver, Colo.
Christian McGhee, drums / Westminster Christian Academy, Town and Country, Mo.
Joshua Tazman Reinier, vocals / Nueva Upper School, San Mateo, Calif.

** 2-year NGJO member
*** 3-year NGJO member

Read the bios of the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra members.

Read the 2017 press release.

2017 Tour Dates

June 24: Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center, Tannersville, New York, 7:30pm
June 25: Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City, 7:30/9:30pm

This event will be streamed on the web.
There will also be a special gathering to watch the web stream at the Sammons Center for the Arts in Dallas, Texas, with special guest performers from the University of North Texas.

June 27: Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Jazz Street Stage, Rochester, New York, 7:30/9:30pm
June 28: TD Toronto Jazz Festival, OLG Stage, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 12pm
June 29: Montreal Jazz Festival, TD Stage, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 6pm
September 14: Concert on the Lawn, Garden Stage, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, Calif., 11am
September 14: Jazz Legends Gala, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, Calif.
September 17: 60th Monterey Jazz Festival, Jimmy Lyons Stage, Monterey, Calif., 12:30pm


I was a member of the All-Star Band in 1999 and 2000, and I learned the true definition of compassion during my trips to Japan with the group. It was the first time in my life I saw a community of people gaining pleasure from giving. Everyone says ‘music is a universal language,’ but I really know this to be true. I met some of my closest friends during those trips to Japan. The importance of a program like this goes far beyond music and lands on humanity itself.—Ambrose Akinmusire

Here’s what our 2014 band members had to say:

I don't plan to pursue a career in music, but being with these amazing musicians has inspired me to keep playing and improving. Being connected in this web of super talented musicians is an honor and has changed my life for the better. –Andy Arditi, tenor saxophone

Thank you so much for a wonderful experience in the NGJO. The tour was the best experience I’ve had, and I had a blast in Monterey! At school, Chris, Max and I still talk about stories from Japan! I hope to be in the band again next year! –Nick Lee, trombone

Next Gen has had a huge impact on my life. The opportunities and networking it has given me has been unbelievable. –Henry Solomon, baritone saxophone

My host family was amazing and so welcoming to me. And the cultural exchanges when we gave master classes were great. Really special. –Anonymous student

The karaoke! The food! The hot springs! –Michael Gutierrez, trumpet

In 2010, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra was profiled on Better TV. Have a look!