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.

In 2017, ALL auditions for the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra will be submitted online. There will be NO live auditions at the Next Generation Jazz Festival. 

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. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Criteria

Next Generation Jazz Orchestra History

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2016 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra
Paul Contos, Director

Matt Richards, alto / Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek, CA
Aviv Blum, alto / Sudbury Democratic School, Jerusalem, Israel
Morgan Guerin,** tenor / Westlake High High School, Atlanta, GA
Michael Schwartz, tenor / Redwood High School, Larkspur, CA
Adam Band, baritone / Bullard High School, Fresno, CA

Ian Kaufman / Mt. Carmel High School, San Diego, CA
Jasim Perales** / Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA
Ethan Santos** / Buchanan High School, Fresno, CA
Jack Kotze / Lincoln-Way North High School, Frankfort, IL
Joshua Hernandez (bass) / J. M. Hanks High School, El Paso, TX

Carlos Ramos** (lead) / Downey High School, Downey, CA
Erik Ondrejko (asst. lead) / Denver School of the Arts, Denver, CO
Geoff Gallante / West Potomac High School, Alexandria, VA
Evan Abounassar** / Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, CA
Akili Bradley / California Virtual Academies, Seaside, CA

Luca Mendoza, piano / Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA
Isaac de Vera, guitar / Monterey High School, Monterey, CA
Max Schwartz, bass / Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA
Julius Rodriguez, drums / The Masters School, White Plains, NY
Benjamin Ring, drums / Piedmont High School, Piedmont, CA
Abigail Berry, vocals / Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, CA

** 2-year NGJO member

Read the biographies of the 2016 NGJO members.

2016 Tour Dates

07.21: Jazz on the Lawn, Santa Lucia Preserve, Carmel, Calif. (Private event)
07.22: Folktale Winery, Carmel, Calif.
07.23: Depart for Japan
07.26: Yanagi Gakuen School, Awaji Island, Japan (Cultural exchange program)
07.30: Monterey Jazz Festival in Noto, Nanao, Japan
08.02: Teikyo High School, Itabashi, Japan (Cultural exchange program)
08.03: Tokyo TUC Jazz Club, Tokyo, Japan
08.05: Tomisato Jazz Festival, Tomisato, Japan
09.15: 10th Annual Jazz Legends Gala, Pebble Beach, Calif.
09.15: 26th Annual Concert for Kids, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, Calif.
09.18: 59th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, Calif.

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!