The Cal Poly Pomona Jazz Combo has won its first invitation to compete in the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival.
Originally started as the California High School Jazz Band Competition in 1971, the festival features some of the top young jazz musicians from colleges, high schools and middle schools around the country. Groups are divided into nine divisions, including vocalists, big bands and combos, which have fewer musicians than the big bands.
The Cal Poly Pomona Jazz Combo is one of six college groups that were selected to compete in the open combo division at the festival, which will take place March 28-30. About 30 combos from around the country had applied to compete, festival spokesman Timothy Orr says. Bands and combos had to submit recordings that were judged by festival organizers.
“Each group brings their own feel and sound to the festival, and it’s highly competitive,” Orr says.
Some of those groups that Cal Poly Pomona will compete with, such as the USC Thornton School of Music and UNLV combos, feature graduate students who are “seasoned, grizzled professionals,” says music Professor Dave Kopplin, who was once played with the Thornton combo and now directs the Cal Poly Pomona combo.
“We’re not a bunch of graduate students. We have undergrads in the band. This is truly a student group,” Kopplin says. “The ideas come from the students, not from me. This is the essential Cal Poly Pomona learn-by-doing philosophy. We’re probably going to be the only combo out of any of the six that have non-music majors.”
Among the works the Jazz Combo will perform are an original tune composed by one of its musicians and an arrangement on a John Coltrane tune.
The top three finishers in each division win a cash prize. The winners also get invited to perform in September at the prestigious 57th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, which is billed as the world’s longest running jazz festival.
This is the second time one of Kopplin’s jazz groups has won an invitation to the festival. The Jazz Band, a larger group of musicians, performed in the College Big Band Division in 2012.
The campus community can get a preview of the performance at a concert in the Music Recital Hall, Building 24, Room 191, at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 13. Tickets are $10 for general admission or $7 for students. They are available at csupomona.tix.com, or at the Recital Hall Box Office from noon to 1 p.m. during the week or one hour before the performance.
The combo will perform in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles prior to the Next Generation Jazz Festival.