Grammy 2011 Jazz Ensembles Selected from Nation's High School Students

(ShackMan | Posted 2010-12-22)

Grammy 2011 Jazz Ensembles Selected from Nation's High School Students

Not coming from a very musical family, I'm adding this to the list of things I wish I had known about. For almost 20 years now, the GRAMMY Foundation® has been brought together the top jazz musicians from high schools across the country every year. Just recently announced were this year's picks: 30 talented high school students from across the United States have been selected for positions in the 2011 GRAMMY® Jazz Ensembles. Their selection launches them into the spotlight surrounding the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, and provides them with unparalleled opportunities to perform in front of some of music's biggest names, including Herbie Hancock (2009) and Dave Matthews Band. The students, representing 30 cities and 12 states (including one from my own hometown of Pittsburgh, PA for the second year in a row), will travel to Los Angeles for a weeklong musical adventure under the direction of Justin DiCioccio of the Manhattan School of Music, Dr. Ron McCurdy of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and Dr. Leila Heil of Colorado State University. Many past members of the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles have gone on to enjoy thriving careers as jazz musicians, including several past selectees who are leading bands, including Peter Cincotti (2001), current GRAMMY Nominee for Best Instrumental Composition Gerald Clayton (2002), Grace Kelly (2008), and Aaron Parks (2000).

"Our GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles program is a hallmark of the GRAMMY Foundation, and it is truly unique in that it brings together remarkable high school vocalists and instrumentalists from across the country to create a jazz choir, combo and band in the span of a little over a week," said GRAMMY Foundation and Recording Academy® President/CEO Neil Portnow. "It's a highlight of GRAMMY Week to experience the talent, dedication and excitement of our GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles members, and it is inspiring to hear the seamless musicality with which these young artists play with their peers as well as with GRAMMY-nominated and GRAMMY-winning artists. The GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles program really brings to life the GRAMMY Foundation's mission of fostering the next generation of music and its makers."

Growing up knowing the GRAMMY's only for the one-night television special award ceremony, it was also news to me that there happens to be a whole week's worth of festivities, and the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles will be performing at various events throughout the week. This includes, for the second year in a row, an appearance at GRAMMY In The Schools® Live! — A Celebration of Music & Education, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund. This special evening, which is open to the public, will showcase the Ensembles, along with student alumni from GRAMMY Camp and GRAMMY Signature Schools. The night will feature a yet-unnamed special guest artist (or artists) on Feb. 9th, 2011, at USC in the Los Angeles Grand Ballroom. The Ensembles will offer another public performance at Spaghettini's Italian Grill & Jazz Club with a special guest artist on February 10th. The GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles will also perform again this year at the MusiCares® Person of the Year tribute on February 11th, which will honor Barbra Streisand. No word yet as to whether or not she will be singing with them. As a grand finale, the Ensembles will attend the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on February 13th as guests of The Recording Academy and will perform at the GRAMMY Celebration® after-party.

Of course, for those who won't be able to attend, these performances will be recorded, but not by just anybody. The recordings will be done at the legendary Capitol Studios & Mastering in Hollywood, California, courtesy of the EMI Music Group. As with the CDs of the ensembles from 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, the recordings will be available online through music outlets such as Amazon, iTunes, Napster, and Rhapsody. As if that weren't enough, the GRAMMY foundation makes more than $2 million in college scholarships available to the students, ensuring that they have a chance to continue their music careers at the very highest level possible. This is all made possible through partnerships with Berklee College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and USC Thornton School of Music. In addition, each selectee's school will receive a professional cymbal courtesy of the Zildjian Company.

And so, without further ado (my kingdom for a drumroll noise!), here are the selections for this year's GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles:

GRAMMY Jazz Choir

  • Emma Davis, West Linn, Ore., West Linn High School, Soprano
  • Angelea Taylor, Pittsburgh, Pa., High School for the Creative & Performing Arts, Soprano
  • Hope Flores, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Alto
  • Kaia Lagoni, Fort Collins, Colo., Rocky Mountain High School Alto
  • Taylor Daniel, Germantown, Tenn., Briarcrest Christian School, Tenor
  • Daniel Stanfill, Manhattan Beach, Calif., Mira Costa High School, Tenor
  • Timothy Nelson, Bothell, Wash., Bothell High School, Bass
  • Timothy Ovia, Cincinnati, Finneytown High School, Bass

GRAMMY Jazz Combo

  • William Bridges, Lauderhill, Fla., North Broward Preparatory School, Alto Sax
  • David James, Del Mar, Calif., Canyon Crest Academy, Drums
  • Antonio Madruga, Pembroke Pines, Fla., New World School of the Arts, Piano
  • Zachary Ostroff, Belvedere, Calif., The Branson School, Bass
  • Gabe Schnider, Accord, N.Y., Poughkeepsie Day School, Guitar

GRAMMY Jazz Band

  • Patrick Bartley, Coral Springs, Fla., Dillard High School of the Arts, Alto Sax 1
  • Tom Kelley, Canton, Conn., Canton High School, Alto Sax 2
  • Xavier Del Castillo, Carnation, Wash., Roosevelt High School, Tenor Sax
  • Ben Solomon, Glencoe, Ill., New Trier High School, Tenor Sax
  • David Leon, Miami, New World School of the Arts, Bari Sax
  • Christian Marrero, Boynton Beach, Fla., Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Trumpet Lead
  • Enrique Sanchez, Kissimmee, Fla., Osceola County School of the Arts, Trumpet Lead
  • Adam Orsquo-Farrill, Brooklyn, N.Y., Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Arts, Trumpet Jazz
  • Josh Shpak, Walnut Creek, Calif., Northgate High School, Trumpet 4
  • St. Clair Simmons III, Dover, Pa., Dover Area High School, Trombone 1
  • Cory Boris, Kingston, N.Y., Kingston Senior High School, Trombone 2
  • Kyle Molitor, Tigard, Ore., Tigard High School, Trombone 3
  • Chris Palowitch, Pleasanton, Calif., Amador Valley High School, Bass Trombone
  • Steven Gordon, Santa Monica, Calif., Santa Monica High School, Piano
  • Daryl Johns, Englewood, N.J., Dwight-Englewood School, Bass
  • Aaron Shapiro, Highland Park, Ill., Highland Park High School, Guitar
  • Evan Sherman, Short Hills, N.J., Millburn High School, Drums

Congratulations from all of us here at Music Gear Review to all the students involved in the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles for 2011! We look forward to hearing your performances and seeing many more years of performances in the future! Thanks to the GRAMMY Foundation for making this a reality and for helping these children to fully realize their dreams in music.

For more information, please visit Grammy in The Schools Online

James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working on playwright Frank Gagliano's Voodoo Trilogy and Bodoni County Songbook, as well as a full-length album with his latest project, Shutterdown.

James un-officially endorses EMG pickups and Nord keyboards.

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