Next Generation Jazz Orchestra History

Left: 1979 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the 22nd Monterey Jazz Festival.

The California High School All-Star Band was created in 1971 as a part of Monterey Jazz Festival's continuing commitment to jazz education.

Renamed the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra in 2004, former members include pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummers Carlos VegaChad Wackerman, Marcus Gilmore and Justin Brown; saxophonists Joshua Redman, Donny McCaslin, Mark Turner, Eric Marienthal, Ted Nash, and Dave Koz; trombonists Luis Bonilla and Andy Martin, flutist Elena Ayodele Pinderhughes, trumpeters Gilbert Castellanos and Ambrose Akinmusire, composer Jeff Beal, and big band leader Gordon Goodwin, to name a few. In the past, the band has been under the leadership of Ladd McIntosh, Don Schamber, Benny Golson, Bill Berry, and others. Now under the tutelage of Paul Contos, the renowned saxophonist and flutist who serves as the director of the Orchestra, the ensemble is dedicated to the study and performance of the most challenging big band literature available.

After obtaining a place in the Orchestra, members of this ensemble gather for one weekend in the summer to begin rehearsals in preparation for a domestic or international tour. Having received worldwide acclaim, tour performances for the Orchestra have included festivals and venues in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe, including:

  • American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, San Diego, California
  • Berklee Performance Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Carmel Bach Festival, Carmel, California
  • Centrum Jazz Festival, Port Townsend, Washington
  • Free Hills Jazz Festival, Nagoya, Japan
  • Hilton Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
  • Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
  • International Music Festival, Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Jazz Alley, Seattle, Washington
  • Jazz At The Bistro, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City, New York
  • The Jazz Showcase, Chicago, Illinois
  • Jazz Standard, New York City, New York
  • The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
  • Kuchan Jazz Festival, Hokkaido, Japan
  • Kuumbwa Jazz, Santa Cruz, California
  • Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Monterey Jazz Festival in Noto, Nanao, Japan
  • Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Canada
  • North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Rochester International Jazz Festival, Rocheter, New York
  • Sweet Rhythm, New York City, New York
  • Tokyo TUC Jazz Club, Tokyo, Japan
  • Tomisato Jazz Festival, Tomisato, Japan
  • Toronto Jazz Festival, Toronto, Canada
  • Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy
  • Vitello’s Jazz Club, Los Angeles, California
  • Yoshi's, San Francisco, California

The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra has been performing on the Arena Stage since 1971, and has been part of the Monterey tradition of presenting young musicians at the Festival. Many of jazz’s greatest stars have appeared with the band, including Louis Bellson, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, Oliver Nelson, Max Roach, Clark Terry, and many others.

In recent times the NGJO has performed with Regina Carter (2004);  Branford Marsalis (2005);  Kurt Elling (2006);  Terence Blanchard (2007); Christian McBride (2008);  Wynton Marsalis (2009); Dianne Reeves (2010); Joshua Redman (2011); Ambrose Akinmusire (2012); Joe Lovano (2013); Eric Harland (2014); Wynton Marsalis and Ted Nash (2015); Terri Lyne Carrington (2016); and John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Gerald Clayton (2017). In 2018, the NGJO will perform with Tia Fuller and Ingrid Jensen.

In addition, the 2008 NGJO was the backing band for Maceo Parker, and in 2014, the NGJO was the backing band for Michael Feinstein's "The Sinatra Project."

Click on a year to find out more information about each Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2016 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2015 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2014 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2013 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2012 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2011 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2010 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2009 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2008 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2007 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2006 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

2005 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

More historical band information will be added soon.