Paul Contos Quartet

Photo © Cole Thompson

A San Francisco Bay Area native, Paul Contos has been an essential part of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Jazz Education Programs since their inception in 1984, and is active as a saxophone clinician, educator, and performer at various educational festivals, clinics, concerts, and workshops in the United States, Japan, Europe, Canada, and Brazil.

His work for the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Traveling Clinician’s Program, Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, (co-director from 1991-2002, and director since 2003) and the Monterey County High School All-Star Band is distinguished. As his guiding concept, Contos is constantly working to provide inspiration and motivation to the world’s young generation of new jazz artists for the continuation, persistence, and relentless development and evolution of the jazz language. In 2011, Paul was named the Monterey Jazz Festival's Director of Education.

Since the 1970s, Contos has been involved in jazz performance and education in the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally. He is a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz, has taught at Monterey Peninsula College, and developed the curriculum and pedagogy for the Music Recording and Technology Concentration at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. He has received three performer grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as serving as a three-year term as Artist-In-Residence for the California Arts Council.

In 2009, Contos was featured as saxophone soloist at Carnegie Hall as part of New York City’s Distinguished Concerts International, performing a jazz concerto by composer Jeff Beal. Later that year, he was appointed as the Director of the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Orchestra.

An inspiration and active in the formation of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz (where he served as Artist-In-Residence in 2010 and 2011), Paul has performed and conducted performances in concert with Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, the Heath Brothers, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Maceo Parker, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano, Regina Carter, McCoy Tyner, Billy Childs, Bobby Hutcherson, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, John Faddis, David “Fathead” Newman, John Clayton, Joshua Redman, Urbie Green, Cal Tjader, and many others. He has recorded with Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, John Patitucci, Richie Beirach, Alan Broadbent, Terence Blanchard, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, John Abercrombie, and Alex Acuna.

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