Next Generation Jazz Orchestra
2013 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the Berklee Performance Center, Boston, Mass., July 8, 2013. Photo ©Ricky McKinney.
As part of a continuing commitment to jazz education and the perpetuation and development of top-level jazz musicians and jazz performance, Monterey Jazz Festival proudly sponsors the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.
Created in 1971 as a part of Monterey Jazz Festival's continuing commitment to jazz education and selected through an application process during the Next Generation Jazz Festival each spring, former members of the Orchestra include pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Chad Wackerman, saxophonists Joshua Redman, Donny McCaslin, Eric Marienthal, Dave Koz, trombonist Andy Martin, trumpeters Gilbert Castellanos, Ambrose Akinmusire, 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 flautist 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, previous tour destinations for the Orchestra have included performances in festivals and various venues in Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe. In 2008, the NGJO performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and in 2009, the NGJO performed eight gigs from Kansas City to Washington D.C. in a tour of the United States. 2010 performed in Canada and New York City, and in 2011, the Orchestra toured the West Coast. In 2012, the NGJO toured Japan. In 2013, Then NGJO played in New York City, Boston and Montreal.
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 more.
Each year, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra performs with the Festival's Artist-In-Residence. In recent times at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the NGJO has performed with GRAMMY Award-winning saxophonist, Branford Marsalis (2005); GRAMMY Award-winning jazz vocalist and DownBeat magazine’s Male Vocalist of the Year Kurt Elling (2006); GRAMMY Award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard (2007); with Maceo Parker and with GRAMMY Award-winning bassist, Christian McBride (2008); multiple GRAMMY Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize recipient, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (2009); GRAMMY Award winner, vocalist Dianne Reeves (2010); Artist-In-Residence Joshua Redman, and special guests (and former band alumni) Benny Green and Donny McCaslin; and with award-winning trumpeter and NGJO alumnus Ambrose Akinmusire. In 2013, the Orchestra will perform with GRAMMY-winning saxophonist, Joe Lovano.