UNLV Jazz Ensemble I ties for first place in the 2017 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival
History was made in Monterey, CA on April 2, 2017 at the 47th Annual Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, College Big Band competition, when the UNLV Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dave Loeb, tied for first place with the University of the Arts Z Band from Philadelphia, PA. After several years of placing 2nd or 3rd in one of the most prestigious and respected jazz education festivals internationally, UNLV came out on top and will perform in September at the 60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
The Monterey set opened with the UNLV Jazz Ensemble I playing the Duke Ellington composition “Johnny Come Lately”, arranged by UNLV alumnus Julian Tanaka. The ensemble was powerful, and showed us what we could expect from the rest of the 27-minute concert. Soloists Jakob Yansen on the alto sax, Kevin Tague on trumpet, Angelo Stokes on drums, and bassist Summer Kodama showed the audience the high quality of musicianship that UNLV was bringing to the competition. They continued with the composition “Rail Trails” written by trumpeter Clay Jenkins and arranged by Tanaka. This piece featured trumpeter Jorge Machain. Jorge dazzled the audience with his melodic interpretation and instrumental solo while drummer Jeremy Klewicki followed with his own stellar solo.
Pianist Bennett Mason was next featured on the Thad Jones piece titled “Basic-Ally Yours”. The ensembles warm sound and smooth blend helped to enhance an already brilliant performance by Bennett. The competition set came to a close as Dave Loeb directed the innovative arrangement of Cole Porters “Love for Sale”, arranged by graduate assistant Michael Spicer, featuring Michael on tenor saxophone and Angelo Stokes on drums.
Congratulations to the students and faculty of the UNLV Jazz Division for becoming one of the top collegiate jazz ensemble in the academic world. If you would like to hear Jazz Ensemble I, as well as the rest of the Jazz Division ensembles, please join us at the upcoming Spring UNLV Jazz Festival on May 1 – 3 in the Black Box Theatre located on the UNLV campus. Tickets are available through the UNLV PAC Box Office for $10 per night, $8 for seniors, military, faculty and staff.
Shawn E. Whitmer