2011 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra Member Biographies

Baritone saxophonist Connor Anderson, 16, is a junior from Concord, California, and is an independent study student at the FAME Public Charter School. Playing alto and baritone saxophone in a variety of bands throughout the Bay Area, he is also a three-year member of the Diablo Wind Symphony, the intergenerational Rossmoor Big Band, and the North Creek Church Brass and Woodwind Ensemble. He has played with the Diablo Valley College Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Rory Snyder for two years, and in 2011, Connor worked with Marcos Silva in the Jazzschool Brazilian Ensemble. Connor is a three-year member of the Contra Costa County Honor Jazz Band; a 2011 California All-State Honor Jazz Band member; and has performed with a number of groups at the Lafayette Jazz Festival (with Mic Gillette) in 2009 and with his own sextet in 2010. Connor currently studies with Mary Fettig and has taken lessons with Duane Carroll, Douglas Yates, and Eric Marienthal, and had attended the Lafayette Summer Music Jazz Workshops.

Trombonist Calvin Barthel, 18, is a graduate of Albany High School in Albany, California where he played in the their jazz band, jazz combo, wind ensemble and was a member of the R&B and funk group, Rhythm Bound. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, he has been a member of the Jazzschool’s Monday Night Studio Band, which placed first in the Conglomerate Big Band division at the Next Generation Jazz Festival three years in a row, and has also won multiple student awards from DownBeat Magazine. In 2010, Calvin was a member of DownBeat’s award-winning Advanced High School Jazz Workshop at the Jazzschool, the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Combo, and was selected to be lead trombone in the California Band Director’s Association All-State Jazz Band; and the California Music Educators Association All-Bay Section Jazz Band. Calvin has performed at the Essentially Ellington Competition in New York, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam and the Monterey Jazz Festival, winning numerous soloist awards. He has studied with many private teachers, most notably saxophonist, composer and educator, Dann Zinn, and has the opportunity to work with Chris Potter, the SFJAZZ Collective, Taylor Eigsti, and more. Calvin will be attending Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship in the fall of 2011.

Saxophonist Patrick Bartley, 18, is a graduate of the Dillard High School of the Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He began performing on the clarinet at age 9, and switched to saxophone at age 12. Influenced by Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Kenny Garrett, and Michael Brecker, by the age of 15, Patrick had made two appearances at the Jazz in the Gardens Festival in Miami. He is multi-year member of the Florida All-County Concert Band (2004-2009) and Florida All-County Jazz Band (2007-2011); a two-year member of the Florida Youth Orchestra (2005-2006) and a 2011 Florida All-State Jazz Band member. Among the various accolades he has received are Outstanding Soloist Awards (2009-2011) and the Outstanding Doubler Award for 2010 from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Competition in New York City. Patrick is also a two-year member of the Grammy Jazz Ensemble (2010-2011) and was selected as lead alto of the band this year. In addition, he was selected to the 2010 Vail Jazz Workshop All-Stars, and has recorded with Melton Mustafa, Mulgrew Miller, Essiet Essiet, and Victor Lewis. He will be attending New York City’s Manhattan School of Music in the fall of 2011.

Guitarist Kai Devitt-Lee, 17, is a graduate of the Healdsburg High in Healdsburg, California, where he taught the jazz band and guitar classes. Playing jazz and classical music since the age of 13, Kai has performed at venues around the country, including the 2010 Jazz Education Network Conference in New Orleans, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Music for All Festival in Indianapolis, Yoshi's in Oakland, and the Healdsburg and Next Generation Jazz Festivals. Kai has been selected for the 2010 Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony at the University of the Pacific, Music for All’s 2011 Jazz Band of America, the California Band Directors Association All-State Jazz Band, Cal Poly All-State Jazz Band, California Association for Music Education Northern California Honors Jazz Band, as well as the SFJAZZ High-School All-Stars. He performs regularly around San Francisco area with different groups, and recently won the won the 2010 “Norbay” Award for Best Jazz Band from the Bohemian. Kai has had the honor to perform with such luminaries as George Cables, Matt Wilson, Craig Handy, David K. Matthews, Jerome Harris, Akira Tana, Myra Melford, and many more.

Vocalist Hope Flores, 17, is a graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in Los Angeles, California. Performing since the age of 7, she is in the LACHSA gospel and concert choirs; has performed with their Big Band and Jazz Combos, and is the student director of her vocal jazz ensemble (which placed first at the 2011 Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, where she also won an Outstanding Soloist award.) She is a 2010 and 2011 member of the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles where she performed with Kenny Burrell, Anthony Wilson and Esperanza Spalding. She attended the Stanford Jazz Workshop Residency Program in 2010, where she studied with Dena DeRose and Madeline Eastman. She also studied privately with Jason Goldman and Walter Smith III. She has performed as a background singer with Barry Manilow, Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles around the Los Angeles area in venues such as Catalina’s Jazz Bar & Grill, the Spaghettini Grill and Lounge, and the Hollywood Bowl. She will be attending New York City’s New School in the fall on scholarship. 

Drummer Anthony Fung, a native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, is a graduate of St. Michael's College School where he performed in the Senior Drumline, Jazz Combo, Jazz Big Band, Wind Orchestra, and in the pit orchestra for musical theater. Anthony has additionally studied jazz improvisation with Juno Award-winning saxophonist, Kirk MacDonald at Humber College. In recent years, he was selected to be a member of the Toronto’s Jazz FM 91.1 Youth Big Band; the Conference of Independent Schools' Music Festival Jazz Big Band; and the National Honour Jazz Combo. Anthony was additionally been awarded "Yamaha's Most Outstanding Combo Drummer Award" from MusicFest Canada, and was one of the two high school drummers selected to participate in the prestigious Berklee College of Music Summer Jazz Workshop, where he studied with Terri Lyne Carrington and performed with trombonist Phil Wilson and his Rainbow Big band. Anthony has additionally studied with artists such as Michael Beauclerc, Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo, Frank Botos, Ari Hoenig, and Dennis Mackrel, and also teaches drums locally at Musaic School of Music. In the fall of 2011, Anthony will be attending the Berklee College of Music.

Bassist Daryl Johns, 14, is a freshman the Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, New Jersey, where he plays in their stage, jazz and rock bands, and touring orchestra. The son of jazz drummer Steve Johns and saxophonist Debbie Keefe, he was a semi-finalist in the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Bass Competition and received an honorable mention. In 2010, Daryl was awarded “Best Soloist” and “Best Original Song” awards in DownBeat Magazine’s student category. In 2011, Daryl was selected to the High School GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble, the Thelonious Monk National Performing Arts High School All-Star Jazz Sextet, and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. Daryl also attends the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Program where he studies double bass with Linda McKnight, and plays in their award-winning Pre-College Big Band, Improv Ensemble, and Double Bass Ensemble. Daryl has attended the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Jazz for Teens in Newark, Jazz House Kids in Montclair, and has performed with jazz greats Randy Brecker, Jimmy Owens, David Liebman, Geoff Keezer, Carl Allen, Jay Leonhart, Warren Vaché, Les Paul, Bucky Pizzarelli, Valery Ponomarev, Larry Coryell, Bernie Williams, and his father Steve Johns. He recently recorded his first CD with his own group, and is currently recording projects produced by Don Sickler at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio.

Saxophonist Julian Lee, 15, is a sophomore at Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey. With professional musicians as parents, he was steeped in music from an early age, playing violin, cello and piano by age five. Taking up alto saxophone as his primary instrument at age seven, he began to attend jazz classes and camps taught by his father, Mike Lee, and studied with Billy Hart, Bruce Williams, and Radam Schwartz. In 2008 and 2009, Julian attended Wisconsin’s Birch Creek Summer Jazz Camp, where he won the Outstanding Wind Player award in both years. He is also a DownBeat Student Music Award winner for Jazz Soloist in the Junior High School category in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, he garnered an Outstanding Soloist award in the Charles Mingus High School Competition as a member of the Jazz House Kids Big Band, winning for Specialized Big Band and Outstanding Saxophone Section (for which Julian played lead alto); he was also a member of the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Combo which won the Small Group Category that same year. For the last several years, Julian was chosen by bassist Christian McBride to play concerts with Cecil Brooks III, Dave Stryker, Steve Turre, Jerome Jennings, and McBride himself; Julian has also performed as a guest with McBride’s Trio at Cecil’s Jazz Club in West Orange, New Jersey, and with the Mingus Big Band at the Jazz Standard in New York City.

Trombonist Joonas Lemetyinen, 16, will be a senior at West Linn High School in West Linn, Oregon. Born in Finland, raised in New York, and playing since the age of nine, Joonas performed in the Empire State Youth Orchestra Jazz Orchestra II, and in several other small groups. Initially classically-influenced on his instrument, Joonas attended a month-long classical camp that performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra. After he moved to Oregon in his sophomore year, he joined the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra and began taking lessons from its founder, Ben Medler. After he met Kyle Molitor (fellow member of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra) Joonas joined the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Jazz I and the PDX Jazz Project. In 2010, he attended the Mel Brown Jazz Camp at Western Oregon University; was selected to the Oregon All-State Jazz Band under the direction of Wycliffe Gordon; and was one of the band’s featured soloists. In 2011, he attended the Next Generation Jazz Festival with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony.

Trumpeter Christian Marrero, 17, is a senior at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. He began performing on the trumpet at age 12, and has studied with Doug Michels of the Miami Sound Machine. Christian has been a member of the 2008 and 2009 Florida All-State Symphonic Band, 2010 Florida All-State Jazz Band, and 2011 Florida All-State Orchestra. He has also acted as the four-year principal trumpet for the Florida Youth Orchestra, winning their Lois Deicke Award. Touring Europe in 2008 with the Make a Wish Foundation Charity Band, he has also performed with the Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble at the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition in New York City, and at the Swing Central Jazz Competition in Savannah, Georgia, working with Wycliffe Gordon, Wynton and Jason Marsalis, Marcus Printup, Ted Nash, and many others. Selected to the GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble and Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra in 2011, Christian has additionally won a number of scholarships from the Gold Coast Jazz Society. Christian performs around South Florida at weddings, grand openings, special events, bars, and private parties with his band, Ithad2bejazz.

Drummer Kevin Mixon, Jr., 18, is a graduate of West Genesee High School in Camillus, New York. With his father as his teacher, he started playing piano at age five and the drum set at age 10. In addition to playing in school groups, he joined the regional big band, the Young Lions of Central New York, at age 13 and began to sit in with bands at jazz venues around Syracuse. He now plays professionally with the Central New York Jazz Ambassadors and the Salt City Jazz Collective, and several pit orchestras throughout the region. He has studied with John Riley, Lewis Nash, Clayton Cameron, Billy Hart, and Dennis Mackerel. Kevin has attended the Skidmore Summer Jazz Institute on scholarship for three years and was awarded the Joseph R. Sugar Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement in 2010. He was also selected to perform with the Vail Jazz All-Stars as part of the Vail Jazz Workshop where he studied with members of the Clayton Brothers Quintet and other jazz luminaries. He will attend Onondaga Community College in Syracuse in the fall of 2011.

Trombonist Kyle Molitor, 18, is a graduate of Tigard High School in Tigard, Oregon, where he played tenor and bass trombone in their Jazz Band and tuba in their Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble. Performing since the age of 12, Kyle has also performed with Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony Jazz 1, and is a founding member of the PDX Jazz Project. He is also a former two-year member of American Music Program/Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra and former three-year member of Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra. Kyle is three-time member of Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and has performed at Monterey on the Jimmy Lyons Stage with Wynton Marsalis and Dianne Reeves. Kyle has also a two-time member of the Grammy Jazz Ensembles, performing with Kenny Burrell in 2010 and GRAMMY winner Esperanza Spalding in 2011. His resume includes membership in winning ensembles at the North Texas Jazz Festival (2008); the Essentially Ellington Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City (2007 and 2008); Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival (2008); the Swing Central Competition in Savannah, Georgia (2009); and acting as a featured soloist at the 2009 Midwest Clinic in Chicago. Both influenced by and interested in many styles of music, Kyle also performs lead tenor trombone with Afincando, a working professional Latin dance band in Portland, and he recently appeared in the horn section on the Bootsy Collins recording, Tha Funk Capital of the World on the song “Freedumb.” Kyle will attend New York City’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in the fall of 2011.

Pianist and composer, Chase Morrin, 17, is a graduate of Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego and will be attending a five-year double degree program at Harvard and the New England Conservatory in the fall of 2011. His musical activities include composing and conducting for Canyon Crest’s choir, music, dance and theater conservatories; percussion in the wind ensemble; piano for MiraCosta College’s Latin Jazz Orchestra; and bonang in a local Javanese gamelan orchestra. Chase also directs, composes, and arranges for his own group, winning first place in the 2011 Open Combo division at Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival. He has earned three ASCAP Young Jazz Composer awards from 2007-2010; eight DownBeat awards in composition, arrangement and leading his school groups from 2009-2011; five awards through the Music Teacher’s Association of California’s Young Composer’s Guild; and the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2011 Gerald Wilson Award for his composition “Mumphis.” In addition, Chase won the 2010 Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award in the jazz instrumental category; was all-star pianist at the Reno Jazz Festival in 2009 and 2011; and won first place for his hip-hop-influenced original project with a school trio he created for the Reno Jazz Festival in 2011. Chase has also traveled to Indonesia to study gamelan music with his choir teacher/mentor; played piano for the Berklee College of Music’s Summer Jazz Workshop; and participated as an All-Star at the Vail Jazz Workshop. Chase gigs professionally with his groups throughout San Diego and beyond, and draws from a variety of cultural musical influences.

Trumpeter Adam OFarrill, 16, will be a senior at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City. A third-generation jazz musician (his grandfather is composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill, and his father is pianist and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill), Adam started playing at age eight, and made an early debut with his father at the Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. Making his international debut at Japan’s Mount Fuji Jazz Festival in 2009, Adam also performed with Arturo at the 2010 CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival. He has additionally shared the stage with Stefon Harris, Lee Konitz, DJ Logic, Benny Golson, and John Patitucci. Adam was selected to play the 2nd trumpet (solo) chair in the 2010 and 2011 GRAMMY® Jazz Ensembles (performing with James Moody and Kenny Burrell) and appeared on the 2011 GRAMMY Awards live television broadcast with Esperanza Spalding. Adam is also an accomplished composer and was selected to perform his compositions at the 2010 and 2011 Music of Now festivals at Symphony Space in New York City; has received Outstanding Soloist Awards at New York’s Essentially Ellington and Charles Mingus High School Competitions; and received a DownBeat Student Music Award for his Original Leadsheet/Composition, “Sanctuary.” Adam leads the O'Farrill Brothers Band (with his brother, Zack) and released their first CD, Giant Peach, to great praise from DownBeat Magazine, Wall Street Journal, All About Jazz, and others. Adam has studied privately or taken lessons with Jim Seeley, Nathan Warner, Ambrose Akinmusire, Michael Rodriguez, and Bobby Shew. In 2011, Adam was selected to the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

Trumpeter Tree Palmedo, 18, is a graduate of the Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, Oregon. He plays in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Jazz Band I, Portland Youth Philharmonic, the PDX Jazz Project and at the Alan Jones Academy of Music. He is a two-time NGJO member, and will attend the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California in the fall of 2011, after which he will attend the Harvard/New England Conservatory of Music dual degree program. Tree has won four Outstanding Performance Award from DownBeat Magazine from 2008 to 2011 in the Jazz Soloist category, as well as a 2011 Outstanding Performance Award for Original Composition. He is a 2011 National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Honorable Mention Winner; a four-time Oregon All-State Jazz Band member; an All-Northwest Jazz Band participant; was second trumpet for the 2010 Jazz Band of America; is a three-time GRAMMY Band Finalist; and has received scholarships to the Berklee Summer Jazz Workshop, the Vail Workshop; the Brubeck Institute's Jazz Colony and the Stanford Jazz Residency. He has performed at the Montreal, Toronto, Portland and Monterey Jazz Festivals among others, and has performed or studied with numerous artists, including Dianne Reeves, Terell Stafford, Ingrid Jensen, Ambrose Akinmusire, Brian Lynch, Randy Porter, and Alan Jones.

Bass trombonist Chris Palowitch, 17, will be a senior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, California, where he plays lead trombone in their Jazz ‘A’ Band, Combo, and full orchestra. He also plays tenor trombone in their top Wind Ensemble. Chris was selected as bass trombonist for the 2011 GRAMMY Jazz Band and for the 2010 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra; tenor trombonist for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 California Band Directors Association Symphonic Bands and Wind Symphonies; first trombone for the 2008 and 2009 Northern California Band Association All-Northern Honor Band; and bass trombonist for the 2010 and 2011 CBDA/California Alliance for Jazz All-State Jazz Band. In his sophomore year, Chris played bass trombone with Berkeley’s Jazzschool Monday Night Studio Band, which won first place in the Conglomerate Division at Monterey’s 2010 and 2011 Next Generation Jazz Festival, and currently plays lead in the band. He is receiving instruction from Tom Hornig, and has also studied with Dann Zinn and Chris Barnes.

Saxophonist Rane Roatta, 18, is a graduate of the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida. He has studied with Matt Vashlishan, Antonio Hart, Tivon Pennicott, Troy Roberts, Joel Frahm, and many more. Rane was accepted into the Thelonious Monk Institute’s Signature Schools Program three years in a row, and had the privilege of joining Antonio Hart for a week-long Pittsburgh tour, and Bobby Watson for a week-long Detroit tour. He also participated in the Monk Institute’s Jazz in America 2011 All-Star Tour of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Rane was a 2010 Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony participant, and will be attending the Brubeck Institute as a Fellow in August of 2011. In 2009 and 2010, Wynton Marsalis presented Rane with Outstanding Soloist Awards at the Essentially Ellington Competitions in New York City, and in 2011, Rane won a DownBeat Student Music Award for Outstanding Performance. Rane takes part in regular concerts with Ira Sullivan, and has performed with greats such as Ingrid Jensen, John Fedchock, Antonio Hart, Ed Calle, and many more.

Trumpeter Enrique Sanchez, 18, is a graduate of Osceola County School for the Arts in Kissimmee, Florida. He began playing trumpet in the sixth grade, and that same year, he saw the Maynard Ferguson perform, which influenced him to become a dedicated musician. Enrique has been Principal Trumpet in the OCSA Wind Ensemble and Lead Trumpet in the OCSA Jazz Band for most of his middle school and high school years, Principal/Co-Principal Trumpet in the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra (2010 and 2011); First Trumpet in Florida All-State Concert Bands (2007-2009); and Lead Trumpet in the Florida All-State Jazz Band (2010 and 2011). He has received numerous awards from local and national music festivals, studies privately with Charlie Bertini, and freelances at many venues around Orlando, including the Walt Disney World Resorts. In 2011, he was elected to participate in the 2011 GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble, Music for All’s Jazz Band of America, and received a full tuition scholarship from the Juilliard School in New York City, where he will study in their jazz program in the fall.

Tenor saxophonist Rob Sheppard, 18, is a graduate of Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, California, where he plays lead tenor saxophone in their jazz band, and alto saxophone in the wind ensemble. Rob additionally plays in the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars and with the Jazzschool Monday Night Studio Band (which won first place in the Conglomerate Division at the 2011 Next Generation Jazz Festival and won a student DownBeat award), and was also selected for the 2011 Jazz Band of America. A student of Dann Zinn, Rob has performed with saxophonists Chris Potter and Ira Sullivan, pianist Taylor Eigsti, and trumpeter Allen Vizzutti. He will be pursuing a B.M. in Jazz Studies in the fall of 2011 at University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, where he received a full scholarship.

Trumpeter Josh Shpak, 18, is a graduate of Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, California. In 2010, Josh was a participant in the Vail Jazz Workshop, the Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony, as well as Berklee College of Music’s Summer Jazz Workshop. As a member of Berkeley’s Jazzschool Monday Studio Band, he has performed at the Montreux, Vienne and Monterey Jazz Festivals. In 2011, Josh was selected to be a member of the GRAMMY® Jazz Ensemble, where he performed with Best New Artist of the Year winner, Esperanza Spalding, among others. Josh was also chosen for the 2011 Jazz Band of America (where he was featured with trumpet virtuoso, Allen Vizzutti), and is a three-year member of the California All-State Honor Jazz Band. At the 2011 Next Generation Jazz Festival, Josh received two Soloist Awards, was selected for Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, and acted as a soloist with the Jazzschool Monday Studio Band, and the Chase Morrin Quartet -- earning First Place with both groups. Josh additionally received a 2011 Honorable Mention from the Yamaha Young Performing Artists competition. Josh also plays with the SFJAZZ All-Star and Reno Jazz Festival Combos and the Jazzschool Combo (which won a 2011 DownBeat Student Award). Josh's major musical influences include Clifford Brown, Miles Davis and the great Clark Terry, with whom he studies privately. Josh had also studied with Bobby Shew, Mic Gillette, Dann Zinn, Michael Miller, Frank Sumares, and Greg Brown. In the fall of 2011, Josh will attend Berklee on a four-year scholarship.

Trombonist St. Clair Simmons, III, 18, is a graduate of Dover Area High School in Dover, Pennsylvania, and will attend the Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship in the fall of 2011. St. Clair’s began playing in the fourth grade, and soon joined the York Junior Symphony. In high school, as a member of the York Youth Symphony Orchestra, he was principal trombone for three years; he was also principal trombone in Dover’s concert, symphonic and marching bands, and the Dominants Select Jazz Ensemble. In 2007, he participated in the University of Toledo Summer Jazz Institute, where he studied with Vic Juris and Jon Hendricks. Since then, he has performed annually in Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s district and regional choral, concert, and symphonic festivals. He is a three-year participant in the Pennsylvania All-State Jazz Ensemble and a three-year lead trombonist in the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz Youth Ensemble. In 2010, he was a finalist for the GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble and was selected to participate in the Jazz Band of America, where he performed with Wayne Bergeron. In 2011, he was again selected for the Jazz Band of America, and performed with the Diva Jazz Orchestra in the National Association for Music Education’s All-Eastern Jazz Ensemble, and with Esperanza Spalding in the 2011 GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble.


Paul Contos - Director, Next Generation Jazz Orchestra

Since the 1970s, Paul Contos has been involved in jazz performance and education in the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally. He has mentored and taught an impressive roster of musicians including Donny McCaslin, Hafez Modirzadeh, Remy and Pascal LeBoeuf, David Valdez, Kyle Athayde, Chase Baird, Milton Fletcher, Tanya Darby, Eric Crystal, Pat Carroll, Alex Han, and many others.

His work for the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Jazz Education Programs as saxophone clinician and Director of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Monterey County High School All-Stars is distinguished. He 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 U.S., Japan, and Brazil.

Contos is a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz, has taught at Monterey Peninsula College, and has developed the curriculum and pedagogy for the Music Recording/Technology Concentration at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. He received three performer grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as serving as Artist In Residence for the California Arts Council. He conducts, performs, and adjudicates at college and high school jazz competitions internationally, including Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival. In February 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. In September 2009, Paul Contos was appointed as the Director of the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Jazz Orchestra.

An inspiration and active in the formation of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Contos has played with many world-renowned jazz artists such as Mundell Lowe, Clark Terry, Roy Hargrove, Jon Hendricks, Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Sheila Jordan, Ray Drummond, Eddie Marshall, Kenneth Nash, Vince Lateano, Madeline Eastman, Mark Levine, Rebeca Mauleón, Bruce Forman, Tee Carson, Dave Eshelman, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, the Heath Brothers, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Regina Carter, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, John Faddis, David “Fathead” Newman, 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.