California State University, Northridge’s nationally acclaimed Jazz “A” Band has been selected to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival, one of the most prestigious and longest-running jazz festivals in the world.
The Monterey Jazz Festival, which takes place in September, is an American institution, where countless jazz icons have performed over the last half-century. CSUN’s Jazz A Band has become a regular at the festival, having been invited to perform the past several years.
“To say that it is an honor to participate is an understatement,” said John Daversa, a CSUN music professor, trumpet player and director of the band. “For these students, it is an experience none will ever forget. And for Cal State Northridge, it’s an opportunity to share on a large stage, what a special program we have here at CSUN.”
The honor comes on the heels of the CSUN Jazz “A” Band participation as a featured performer in the Newbury Park Jazz Festival in Ventura County, as well as competing in the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Festival, the Reno Jazz Festival and the California Alliance for Jazz State Championships. The band received a first place award in the collegiate division at all three of the latter competitions and several students received outstanding musicianship awards.
Recognized at the Reno festival were Jacob Scesney, for outstanding collegiate saxophone; Neil Patton, for outstanding musicianship on bass; Tommy Hodul, for outstanding musicianship on bass; JoJo Ramirez, for outstanding musicianship on drums; Brijesh Pandya, for outstanding musicianship on drums, Connor McElwain, for outstanding musicianship on trumpet, Austin Yancey, for outstanding musicianship on baritone saxophone, and Alex Nizolli, for outstanding musicianship on piano.
Ramirez, Scesney and Yancey also received recognition at the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Festival, a three-day event that includes performance by middle school- through college-level ensembles.
Guitar player David Shorr, Pandya, Yancey and Scesney received musicianship honors at the California Alliance for Jazz State Championships.
“The CSUN music department and, specifically, CSUN’s jazz program and community are very special,” said Daversa. “The students are tremendously hard-working, humble, and eager to find depth in the music they play. There is healthy competition amongst peers, however everyone is wholeheartedly supportive of each other.
“The success that the band has enjoyed this year is a reflection of the students’ hard work, a willingness to go beyond the surface, as well as an unyielding passion for their craft,” he said. “It is currently fertile territory at CSU Northridge, and we hope to share it with many more dedicated music makers for years to come.”
CSUN’s jazz studies program prides itself in offering a progressive and innovative course curriculum spanning improvisation, theory, composition, performance and jazz history, together with a commitment to developing strong mentoring relationships between students and faculty. From the beginning students work with acclaimed professionals, and learn not only technique and an expansive repertoire but also the history and significance of jazz as a cultural force in the country and around the world.