As part of a continuing commitment to jazz education and the perpetuation and development of top-level jazz musicians and jazz performance, the Monterey Jazz Festival proudly sponsors the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.
The NGJO represents the future generation of jazz stars through a program that selects the best and brightest high school jazz musicians in the country. Former members of the ensemble include pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Chad Wackerman, saxophonists Joshua Redman, Eric Marienthal, and Dave Koz, trombonist Andy Martin, and big band leader Gordon Goodwin to name a few. In the past, the band has been under the leadership of Ladd McIntosh, Don Schamber, Benny Golson, Bill Berry, and many more.
Now under the tutelage of Mr. Paul Contos, a renowned saxophonist and flautist, the ensemble is dedicated to the study and performance of the most challenging big band literature available. Orchestra members are selected through a rigorous audition process that includes review by a national panel of judges comprised of professional jazz musicians/educators. After obtaining a place in the Orchestra, members of this ensemble gather for one weekend in the summer to begin rehearsals in preparation for a domestic or international tour. Having received worldwide acclaim, previous tour destinations for the Orchestra have included performances in festivals and various venues in Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe. In 2008, the NGJO performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and in 2009, the NGJO performed eight gigs from Kansas City to Washington D.C. in a tour of the United States.