The CSULB Concert Jazz Orchestra led by Director of Jazz Studies Jeff Jarvis won first place last spring in the College Division of the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival. After being selected as one of six finalists from a field of 27 college jazz ensembles that applied, the Concert Jazz Orchestra traveled to Monterey during its March 23-27 spring tour to perform for a panel of judges that included jazz keyboardist George Duke and guitarist Bruce Forman.
The Concert Jazz Orchestra, a jazz ensemble consisting of a full big band plus three French horns and a vocalist, received a trophy, a check for $2,000 and an invitation to perform on the main stage of the 50th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival in next month.
“The Monterey Next Generation Festival is important, so this win was very important, too,” said Jarvis, a member of the Music Department since 2005. “It demonstrates how hard our students have worked to return CSULB to the jazz map. The Jazz Orchestra has made an incredible improvement in the last year and that will be even truer next year. There were students who thought it was a foregone conclusion we wouldn’t win. Now they know this kind of achievement is possible. I see a bright future for jazz studies at CSULB.”
The Next Generation Festival represents the largest gathering of young jazz talent on the Monterey Peninsula, outside of the Monterey Jazz Festival itself. More than 40 groups from 10 states, from Alaska to Connecticut, participated. CSULB faced competition from Azusa Pacific University, Cal States Fullerton and Los Angeles, UCLA and the University of the Pacific. While in Monterey, Jarvis adjudicated secondary school jazz bands and presented a workshop with fellow jazz educators from the University of the Pacific and UCLA.
The recognition came at a time of changing management at CSULB’s all-jazz radio station KKJZ.
“Recognition like this will help make sure the jazz format is retained,” he said. “We want to build a strong relationship between the station and jazz studies that can nourish and support both. We’re very excited about the four full jazz scholarships offered by the new management that begin in the fall of 2007. For an enrollment of 40, four scholarships are very significant.”
Jarvis believes the September performance, with all its challenges, represents the kind of practical, hands-on instruction distinctive of CSULB’s Music Department.
“Here, students are immersed in all music,” he explained. “In the first two years of their core curriculum, students get a lot of non-jazz training so that by the time they finish, they will be functional in more than one tiny corner of the idiom spectrum. They will wind up as comprehensive musicians who can function in the entertainment industry.”
Jarvis’s musical career includes achievements as a trumpeter, composer, jazz educator, and music publisher. He is the Music Director Emeritus of the Central New York Jazz Orchestra, serves as jazz coordinator for the Texas Bandmasters Association, and is a former vice president of the International Association for Jazz Education. He also is part-owner of Kendor Music, Inc., the first educational music publisher to provide jazz charts written especially for students.
Jarvis is looking forward to the orchestra’s performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival, a first both for the group and for him.
“We are being put on at a great time on the main arena stage between Ornette Coleman and Diana Krall,” he said. “I’m not sure our students understand yet just how overwhelming this will feel.”