Winners of the prestigious Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey were announced this week and, for the fifth straight year, a local high school tops the list of honored music makers.
In an unprecedented display of musicianship, top honors went to Northgate High School again this year. A full list of top groups, scholarship and award winners can be found on the Festival’s Web site.
The band, under the direction of Greg Brown, has earned command performance honors at the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival in each of the last six years. In addition to making their 12th consecutive appearance in 2017 at the famed Yoshi’s nightclub in Oakland, the group earned first place at the 2014 and 2016 California Alliance for Jazz State Championships, and has been a perennial finalist at the Folsom Jazz Festival, where they took winning sweepstakes honors in 2015. The ensemble has also been selected as Next Generation Jazz Festival finalists in the High School Big Band Division for the last 11 years.
Recent graduates from the group have gone on to study music at such elite institutions as Julliard, the Berklee College of Music, USC, UCLA, the University of North Texas, and California State University, Northridge.
Director Greg Brown has been recognized as Jazz Educator of the Year by the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) Bay Section in 2014, as well as CMEA’s Outstanding Music Educator in 2009. Greg Brown is in his 21st year as Director of Instrumental Music and Chairperson of the Performing Arts Department at Northgate High School. Under Mr. Brown’s direction, the Instrumental Music Department has become one of the most recognized, versatile, and comprehensive music programs in the Bay Area. The Northgate Instrumental Music Boosters commissioned “The North Fort” by Francisco Torres, which they performed at the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Festival. Other commissions for the ensemble have included “Fantasia En Clave,” “Danzon Para Mi Tierra” by Francisco Torres, and “Northern Exposure” by George Stone.