Kyle Athayde / Trumpet, Piano and Vibes Clinician
Kyle Athayde is a New York-based composer, arranger, performer, teacher, and bandleader. A native of Orinda, California, Kyle plays vibraphone, piano, trumpet, drums, bongos, congas, timbales, string bass, bass clarinet, sousaphone, and vocal percussion. He is the leader, conductor, and principal writer for the New York-based big band, Kyle Athayde Dance Party, a group acclaimed for its versatility in the wide scope of styles it performs, and is pianist for the New York Trumpet Ensemble.
Influenced by the music of J. S. Bach, Duke Ellington, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Eric Dolphy, Dmitri Shostakovich, Louis Armstrong, Igor Stravinsky, Charlie Parker, Olivier Messiaen, Art Tatum, and many others, Athayde composes and arranges music in a variety of genres, with an emphasis on jazz, classical, salsa, and electronic. While an undergraduate student at Juilliard, Kyle was heavily immersed in an inter-disciplinary arts environment which included dance, drama, and music, which provided him the opportunity to further develop and refine his programmatic approach to composition. Participant in many all-star jazz ensembles while in high school, Kyle was a member of the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars, and trumpeter and vibraphonist in Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
Athayde’s recent commissioned compositions and premieres include a double concerto for the New York Sinfonietta, a tone poem for Bobby Sanabria and the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra (to be featured on a soon to be released recording), and music for the ending credits of the film Diller, Scofidio + Renfro: Reimagining Lincoln Center and the High Line. He also arranged the music for the halftime show for the University of California at Berkeley Marching Band in their final performance of the 2013 season. Kyle is currently working on commissions for the Canadian Brass, the New York Trumpet Ensemble, the University of Scranton, Manhattan School of Music Trumpet Ensemble, and the San Francisco Conservatory Brass Choir.
Committed to inter-disciplinary educational outreach in the arts, Kyle has offered classes, clinics, lessons and masterclasses at schools, workshops, and camps in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Alaska. A regular visiting faculty member of the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, he recently developed and taught a class on video game music history and composition, and directed the jazz band and a vocal hip hop class. He is the Director of Curriculum at the Lafayette Summer Music Workshop, and regularly offers clinics and masterclasses to middle school and high school bands throughout Northern California. Kyle was a faculty member for both weeks at Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2017 Summer Jazz Camp.
Paul Contos / Saxophone Clinician
With over 30 years in jazz performance, education, and as Lecturer in Saxophone at UC Santa Cruz, Paul’s talents and abilities encompass worldwide performance, recording, production, conducting, and mentorship. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Paul serves as Education Director for the Monterey Jazz Festival, Director of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Monterey County All-Stars, the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Orchestra, and is an annual guest artist in Japan, Brazil, and the United States. Featured at Carnegie Hall in 2009 as soprano saxophone soloist, Paul has performed and conducted at many of the world’s major jazz festivals, including North Sea, Montreal, Montreux, Umbria, Jazz á Vienne, Vittoria, Toronto, Vancouver, and many others. Paul 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.
Under Paul’s direction, many of the ensembles he has conducted have been awarded first place at competitions and festivals throughout the United States. In May, 2017, Paul was given DownBeat Magazine’s national Jazz Education Achievement Award for Jazz Educator, and in January 2015, he recieved the Champion of the Arts Educator Award from the Monterey Arts Council. In 2013, Paul was listed in the “25 for the Next 25” list of top innovators who will shape Monterey County for the next few decades.
Katie Thiroux / Bass Clinician
A triple-threat talent, Katie Thiroux has garnered considerable attention for her bravura bass playing, assured singing and compelling compositions. With the release of her debut album, Introducing Katie Thiroux (2015), her substantial gifts as a bandleader and recording artist are now also on view. Audiences and critics agree as this release received many awards including "Debut Record of the Year" from the Huffington Post, All About Jazz, the Jazz Journalists Association and "Top 5 Debut Records of the Year" from the NPR Jazz Critics Poll. Lending contemporary flair to mainstream stylings, Thiroux carries on the hard-swinging tradition of such bass masters as Ray Brown and John Clayton, while channeling the buoyant vocal finesse of iconic singers including Anita O’Day, Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald. Thiroux offers in-the-moment jazz that draws upon the rich history of the music, from swing to bebop and beyond.
Thiroux’s recent performances with her quartet include the Blue Note, Birdland, the San Jose Summer Jazz Fest, NAMM, and the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival. In May 2017, Thiroux paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live as a featured performer and musical director at the request of the GRAMMY Foundation. She also performed from June through August 2017 (asked by legendary arranger, composer and producer, Quincy Jones) to perform a two-month residency as a featured artist at his new venue, Q’s Bar, at the Palazzo Versace in Dubai. Thiroux’s sophomore release, Off Beat, was released on Capri Records in the fall of 2017.
Coming from a musical family in Los Angeles, she was surrounded by music; beginning with violin lessons at age 4 then switching to the acoustic bass at age eight. While continuing her studies on bass, Katie explored both jazz and classical vocal styles; landing principal roles in the LA Opera and Opera Pacifica by the age of 10. Captivated by an early recording of Lionel Hampton, Katie was driven to pursue her love for jazz and began studying privately with jazz vocalist Tierney Sutton at the age of 12. In 2005, Thiroux began a mentorship with John Clayton that started at the Vail Jazz Party and later that year she received the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s “Shelly Manne New Talent” award. In 2006, Katie was presented with the Phil Ramone Presidential Scholarship to Berklee College of Music, which included full tuition and room and board. Upon graduation, Thiroux was asked to teach at the Berklee International School in Quito, Ecuador. She then returned to Los Angeles and completed a Masters of Jazz Bass from California State University of Long Beach on full scholarship.
In addition to work with her quartet, Thiroux is an active member of the Larry Fuller Trio and has been heard with, among others, pianists Bill Cunliffe, Geri Allen, Helen Sung, Tamir Hendelman and Eric Reed; trumpeters Brian Lynch and Terrell Stafford; saxophonists Jeff Clayton, Charles McPherson and Ken Peplowski; guitarists Mundell Lowe and Larry Koonse; drummers Lewis Nash and Jeff Hamilton; and vocalists Niki Harris and Tierney Sutton. Having performed at jazz festivals in the United States, Mexico, Germany, Finland, Serbia, Singapore and Switzerland as both a leader and a sideman, Thiroux often incorporates workshops for students and audiences. It is her passionate belief that exposure to jazz history, culture and styles is vital in keeping the music alive and thriving. Katie’s swinging bass, clear vocals and inspired instrumental arrangements are reflective of her musical idols both past and present. Katie Thiroux’s knowledge, perseverance and fervor for the music make her a rising star in today’s scene.
Gaw Vang Williams / Vocal Clinician
Gaw Vang Williams is a jazz-pop vocalist and educator native to Sacramento, California. She became the director of vocal jazz ensembles at Sacramento State in 2014, where she earned her Bachelors of Music in jazz studies and Masters of Music in vocal performance. Williams studied vocal jazz performance, voice pedagogy and arranging, and performed with the multiple DownBeat award-winning Sac State Jazz Singers and C-Sus. She began teaching in 2004, serving as a music instructor at VAPAC (Visual and Performing Arts Charter), C.K. McClatchy High School, Folsom High School, Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps and Sierra College. Williams was also a member of the mellophone section in the 2007 world champion Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. She also currently directs the Christian Brothers High School vocal jazz ensemble and is an active private music instructor. Williams has been working for several years as a vocal clinician, working with many middle school, high school and collegiate ensembles and served as an adjudicator for many music festivals.
Under Williams's direction, the Sac State Vocal Jazz program has won seven DownBeat Student Awards. In addition, the Sac State vocal jazz ensembles took first place consecutively in 2016 and 2017 at the Next Generation Monterey Jazz Festival in the collegiate vocal jazz ensemble category and performed at the 60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September 2017.
Williams has also started a non-profit organization call VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) for All, providing free music lessons and classes to socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
Malachi Whitson / Drumset Clinician
Born and raised in Richmond, California, Malachi Whitson has been rooted in the Bay Area jazz community as both a performer and teacher sense his early youth. Malachi Whitson received a jazz performance bachelor’s degree in 2015 from the University of Pacific as the first African-American fellow to receive a degree from UOP. As a former member of the Brubeck Institute, Malachi performed with major artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Bobby Hutcherson, Stefon Harris, Eddie Gomez, Adam Kolker, Joel Frahm, and many others. Malachi is associated with various jazz organizations in the Bay Area and abroad, including the California Jazz Conservatory, the SFJAZZ Center, the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, the Oakland School for the Arts, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Brubeck Institute. He is a recipient of various awards including most dedicated musician award from SFJAZZ, best drummer award from the Stanford Jazz Workshop, best overall musician from San Jose Jazz Workshop, as well as an outstanding steel pan instructor award from East Bay Women in Action.
Malachi has been associated with several projects, including the Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary Lost and Found by Sharif Nassir, and the 2011-2013 Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet’s award-winning album Origins. He is also a member the of SFJAZZ Alumni Teachers Association. Malachi currently leads a trio known to many as “Something with Soul” and currently attends the California Institute of the Arts as a MFA student where he hopes to continue his education through his PhD.