Next Generation Jazz Orchestra


About the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra (NGJO)

Each year, Monterey Jazz Festival brings together 21 of the most accomplished high school jazz musicians from across the country to form an all-star touring jazz orchestra. The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra meets each summer to rehearse with Education Director Paul Contos before embarking on a domestic or international tour that includes performances at several well-known jazz festivals. The program culminates in a main stage performance in September at the Monterey Jazz Festival with the annual Artist-in-Residence.

Next Generation Jazz Orchestra members:

  • Play, listen and learn with peers who challenge them
  • Workshop, rehearse and perform with name Festival artists
  • Play exceptional arrangements like the pros
  • Experience life as professional jazz artists being an on-the-road touring ensemble
  • Experience the thrill of being a performer on the Jimmy Lyons Stage during the 62nd Monterey Jazz Festival 

Frequently Asked Questions
Next Generation Jazz Orchestra History


2018 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra
Paul Contos
, Director

Read the biographies of the 2018 NGJO members.

Read the press release.

Ian Muñoz
, alto / New World School of the Arts, Miami, Fla.
Willie Bays,** alto / Olympia High School, Olympia, Wash.
Erik Nelson, tenor / Albany High School, Albany, Calif.
Kieran Hitsman, tenor / Dillard High School, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Jason Arkins, baritone / Carmel High School, Carmel Hamlet, N.Y.                                

Jack McDonald
/ Champaign Central High School, Champaign, Ill.
Jonathan Gittings / Princeton High School, Princeton, N.J.
Ethan Avery / Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, Santa Monica, Calif.
Kate Williams** / Vanden High School, Fairfield, Calif.
Joey Curreri / Academy of Music and Performing Arts at Hamilton High School, Los Angeles, Calif.

Zachary Niess
/ Yorktown High School, Arlington, Va.
Leo Markel** / Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Sam Keedy / Denver School of the Arts, Denver, Colo.
Benjamin Conn / Agoura High School, Agoura Hills, Calif.
Joe Turgeon (bass) / Jesuit High School, Sacramento, Calif.

Zack Shubert
, piano / Carlmont High School, Belmont, Calif.
Jordan Reifkind,** guitar / Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, Calif.
Isaac Coyle, bass / El Cerrito High School, El Cerrito, Calif.
Peter Glynn, drums / Columbia High School, Maplewood, N.J.
Michael Wang, drums / Los Altos High School, Los Altos, Calif.
William Brandt, vocals / Academy of Music and Performing Arts at Hamilton High School, Los Angeles, Calif.

** 2-year NGJO Member

2018 Summer Tour

July 18: Arrive in Monterey
July 20: The Barnyard, Carmel, Calif.
July 21: Coventry Grove Amphitheatre, Berkeley, Calif.
July 22: Depart for Japan from San Francisco
July 23-26: Performance and exchange activities in Awaji
July 26: Performance in Awaji Gakuen
July 26-30: Performances in city of Nanao area
July 28: Monterey Jazz Festival in Noto (City of Nanao)
July 30-Aug. 1: Performance and exchanges with Free Hills Jazz program, Nagoya
July 31: Free Hills Jazz Program, Nagoya
Aug. 1: Tokyo TUC jazz club, Tokyo
Aug. 2: Travel to Tomisato (Chiba Prefecture)
Aug. 2-6: Performances, workshops, exchange with Tomisato Mad Hatters
August 4: Tomisato Jazz Festival
Aug. 6: Return to San Francisco
September 20: Concert on the Lawn, Garden Stage, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, Calif., 11am
September 20: Jazz Legends Gala, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, Calif.
September 23: 61st Monterey Jazz Festival, Jimmy Lyons Stage, Monterey, Calif., 12:30pm

Here’s what our band members had to say:

I was a member of the All-Star Band in 1999 and 2000, and I learned the true definition of compassion during my trips to Japan with the group. It was the first time in my life I saw a community of people gaining pleasure from giving. Everyone says ‘music is a universal language,’ but I really know this to be true. I met some of my closest friends during those trips to Japan. The importance of a program like this goes far beyond music and lands on humanity itself. —Ambrose Akinmusire

I don't plan to pursue a career in music, but being with these amazing musicians has inspired me to keep playing and improving. Being connected in this web of super talented musicians is an honor and has changed my life for the better. —Andy Arditi, tenor saxophone (2014)

Thank you so much for a wonderful experience in the NGJO. The tour was the best experience I’ve had, and I had a blast in Monterey! At school, Chris, Max and I still talk about stories from Japan! I hope to be in the band again next year! —Nick Lee, trombone (2014)

Next Gen has had a huge impact on my life. The opportunities and networking it has given me has been unbelievable. —Henry Solomon, baritone saxophone (2014)

My host family was amazing and so welcoming to me. And the cultural exchanges when we gave master classes were great. Really special. Anonymous student

The karaoke! The food! The hot springs! —Michael Gutierrez, trumpet (2014)

Read more about the alumni.

In 2010, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra was profiled on Better TV. Have a look!