Next Generation Jazz Orchestra
Major support for the 2012 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra comes from the Surdna Foundation.
Since it was established in 1971, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra represents the future generation of jazz stars through a program that selects the best and brightest high school jazz musicians in the country. Former members of the ensemble include pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Chad Wackerman, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonists Donny McCaslin, Joshua Redman, Eric Marienthal, and Dave Koz; trombonist Andy Martin, 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 many more.
Now under the tutelage of Mr. 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. Orchestra members are selected through a rigorous audition process that includes review by a national panel of judges comprised of professional jazz musicians and educators. 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, previous tour destinations for the Orchestra have included performances in festivals and various venues in Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe.
Each year, the Monterey Jazz Festival's Artist-In-Residence appears with the group as a guest soloist on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena on the final day of the Festival. In 2012, the Artist-In-Residence is Ambrose Akimnusire, who was a member of the band in 1999 and 2000.
The members of the 2012 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra will be announced in April.