I am not a morning person. Waking up in the wee small hours makes me cranky. Capital “C” cranky. Cranky. But for two years of my teenage life, I was up and at school before the sun. The reason? To sing jazz.
“He was a-a-a boogie woogie bugle boy with company c,” I warbled before the birds were awake to do it. I proudly wore the blue satin dress of the audition-only jazz show choir. One of the highlights of my teen years was singing in an invitational in San Francisco, which when you live in San Diego seems like a world away. You could almost hear Tony Bennett in the air — actually, we may have been singing his songs on the bus.
The Monterey Coast, with its world-renowned festival, has a reputation as a jazz-loving place. The perfect place for a jazz-crazy teen, now adult, to get her fix. This weekend (April 9 – 11), the Monterey Jazz Festival hosts its Next Generation Festival in Downtown Monterey. Sixty three big bands, combos and vocal ensembles from 13 states will compete for a spot on the Festival’s stages this September.
Groups from middle schools, high schools and colleges across the country will give free performances in several venues, including the Monterey Conference Center, the Portola Plaza Hotel, Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row. The free kick-off concert, 8 p.m. April 9 at the Conference Center, includes performances by the judges and artist-in-residence Dianne Reeves, a 4-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist. Santa Cruz’s Kuumbwa Jazz Honor Band will perform noon April 11.
Educational clinics, a college fair and auditions for both the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship to Berklee College of Music and the festival’s all-star Next Generation Jazz Orchestra are also on the schedule.
Free music played by teens who know their Miles Davis from the George Gershwin — for this jazz aficionado, it sounds like a great opportunity to introduce her little one to some great tunes.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Next Generation Festival Opening Concert
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, April 9
WHERE: Serra Ballroom I, Monterey Conference Center, One Portola Plaza, Monterey
AGE RANGE: All ages, but best for ages 10 and up
MORE INFORMATION: www.montereyjazzfestival.org
Illustration courtesy of Monterey Jazz Festival.