Students musicians kick off the 65th Monterey Jazz Festival

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Student musicians kick off the 65th Monterey Jazz Festival

For the first time, the Monterey Jazz Festival kicked off the weekend-long celebration with a student showcase. “Jazz, for me, is life. Jazz is how we walk down the street. Jazz is how we live our life…how we eat. And so the music is just what we are and for us to connect with one another,” Tarik Mckeython, a musician and student at Morgan State University, said. Traditionally, the Thursday before the festival, the MJF hosts a black tie gala. But this year, to expand its educational initiatives, four student music groups were invited to showcase their talent on the California State University, Monterey Bay campus. “We have been really focused on education since the very beginning. We were formed as a 5013c, a nonprofit organization, in 1958, and we’ve been doing education programs for 65 years,” Colleen Bailey, the executive director for the festival, said. Thursday night’s lineup included an array of talented student musicians, including ensembles from the HBCU’s Morgan State and Texas Southern University, who were flown out on an all-expense paid trip from Alaska Airlines. “I think music has really been the center of my life. Without it, I would not have made it through the pandemic being that it was such a hard time,” Sydney Daniel, a singer and student at Texas Southern University, said. “The big dream is to make it all the way to the top.”Many of the performers are multitalented and have been playing music for several years. “I started out in school playing saxophone. I now play bass guitar, piano and flute. I produce, I’m an artist, I write, compose, engineer. I have a record label. I’ve been doing music pretty much my whole life,” Mckeython said. “I can pretty much pick up anything and play it. Also on stage was the Morgan State University Choir, a world-traveling group of singers who’ve performed for the former President Obama and First lady Michelle Obama and back up for Aretha Franklin. Grammy-nominated composer Gerald Clayton led MJF’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, a group of 20 accomplished musicians from across the country. “I just count off the tunes, wave my hands and really just let them take off,” Clayton said. “They have very very bright futures.” Bailey says the MJF plans to continue the student Thursday showcase next year.

For the first time, the Monterey Jazz Festival kicked off the weekend-long celebration with a student showcase.

“Jazz, for me, is life. Jazz is how we walk down the street. Jazz is how we live our life…how we eat. And so the music is just what we are and for us to connect with one another,” Tarik Mckeython, a musician and student at Morgan State University, said.

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Traditionally, the Thursday before the festival, the MJF hosts a black tie gala. But this year, to expand its educational initiatives, four student music groups were invited to showcase their talent on the California State University, Monterey Bay campus.

“We have been really focused on education since the very beginning. We were formed as a 5013c, a nonprofit organization, in 1958, and we’ve been doing education programs for 65 years,” Colleen Bailey, the executive director for the festival, said.

Thursday night’s lineup included an array of talented student musicians, including ensembles from the HBCU’s Morgan State and Texas Southern University, who were flown out on an all-expense paid trip from Alaska Airlines.

“I think music has really been the center of my life. Without it, I would not have made it through the pandemic being that it was such a hard time,” Sydney Daniel, a singer and student at Texas Southern University, said. “The big dream is to make it all the way to the top.”

Many of the performers are multitalented and have been playing music for several years.

“I started out in school playing saxophone. I now play bass guitar, piano and flute. I produce, I’m an artist, I write, compose, engineer. I have a record label. I’ve been doing music pretty much my whole life,” Mckeython said. “I can pretty much pick up anything and play it.

Also on stage was the Morgan State University Choir, a world-traveling group of singers who’ve performed for the former President Obama and First lady Michelle Obama and back up for Aretha Franklin.

Grammy-nominated composer Gerald Clayton led MJF’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, a group of 20 accomplished musicians from across the country.

“I just count off the tunes, wave my hands and really just let them take off,” Clayton said. “They have very very bright futures.”

Bailey says the MJF plans to continue the student Thursday showcase next year.

Contributed by local news sources

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