Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spotlight on Education: The High School All-Stars come out Swinging!

The 2012-13 SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Orchestra at the historic SFJAZZ Center Opening Night Concert, directed by Paul Contos and featuring Regina Carter and Joe Lovano. Photo by Stuart Brinin.
Every so often we at SFJAZZ take a moment to reflect on the explosion of amazing talent among young musicians in the Bay Area, and the High School All-Stars are a perfect example. In this offering I am happy to share some highlights of the program - both this year’s new crop of musicians as well as the multiple award-winning 2012-13 Orchestra and Combo - and invite EVERYONE to witness this stellar line-up of the Bay Area’s best.


For starters our education staff auditioned over 150 students this summer - more than twice the annual average - and then had the difficult task of selecting and placing the members of both the Orchestra and Combo, plus multiple Alternates and students in our Mentorship program. To put it one way, we had enough talent come through our doors for TWO full bands! This new lineup for 2013-14 will have the honor of joining violin virtuoso and Resident Artistic Director Regina Carter in concert this Sunday (7pm show in Miner Auditorium) as part of her residency this second season, and let’s just say that they are up to the task. They will also accompany jazz vocalist Carla Cook in addition to performing a few other selections, all this with only three rehearsals under their belts! Please click here for more info on this Sunday’s show - we know you will be blown away! http://www.sfjazz.org/events/season2/sep29-regina-carter


“This is such an amazing band!”
-- Regina Carter on the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars


The 2012-13 High School All-Stars Orchestra @ the 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival. Paul Contos, Director.
Photo courtesy Stuart Brinin photography.

The All-Stars play Monterey!
Last year’s award-winning All-Stars Orchestra had the tremendous honor of performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival last Saturday. High on the heel of their Mingus Competition win in New York City, the group took first place in the NextGen Conglomerate Band division earlier this year, securing their spot in the fall festival. Among the returning alumni were flutist/vocalist and 2013 Presidential Scholar Elena Pinderhughes, and Mingus soloist award-winners (and bassists) Logan Kane and Kanoa Mendenhall (both of whom are members of the current ensemble). Under the expert direction of Paul Contos, the All-Stars ripped through a blistering rendition of Monk’s “Epistrophy” followed by Alan Baylock’s exquisite arrangement of “‘Round Midnight,” then closed their all-too-short set with Charles Mingus’ explosive piece entitled “Tensions.” After the well-deserved standing ovation the All-Stars gathered for the lovely photo above (thanks to Stuart Brinin for both shots). Please enjoy a few moments from the show here:





Double CD Release!
This week also marks the very special release of the 2012-2013 SFJAZZ High School All-Stars recording. This incredible double disc features performances from both our Orchestra (directed by Paul Contos) and our incredible Combo (directed by Dann Zinn), including original compositions and arrangements by the band members. Come pick up your copy of the CD at the SFJAZZ Center Box Office - all proceeds go directly to the All-Stars program! (Listen to samples from both CDs on our SoundCloud page here!)


Over the past several years, Larry and Meryl Rafferty have been generously funding these All-Stars recordings. We would like to give our deepest thanks to the Rafferty’s for believing in our gifted musicians and giving them this memorable professional opportunity. These recordings continue to inspire us all and have sparked a wonderful tradition within the All-Stars program. We encourage you to share these recordings with friends, relatives and colleagues, and think you will agree that the future of jazz is in VERY good hands!
-- Rebeca Mauleón

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