The California High School All-Star Band was created in 1971 as a part of Monterey Jazz Festival's continuing commitment to jazz education.
Renamed the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra in 2004, former members include pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Chad Wackerman, saxophonists Joshua Redman, Donny McCaslin, Mark Turner, Eric Marienthal, Ted Nash, and Dave Koz; trombonist Andy Martin, flutist Elena Pinderhughes, trumpeters Gilbert Castellanos and Ambrose Akinmusire, and big band leader Gordon Goodwin, to name a few. In the past, the band has been under the leadership of Ladd McIntosh, Don Schamber, Benny Golson, Bill Berry, and others. Now under the tutelage of Paul Contos, the renowned saxophonist and flutist who serves as the director of the Orchestra, the ensemble is dedicated to the study and performance of the most challenging big band literature available.
After obtaining a place in the Orchestra, members of this ensemble gather for one weekend in the summer to begin rehearsals in preparation for a domestic or international tour. Having received worldwide acclaim, tour performances for the Orchestra have included festivals and venues in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe, including:
American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, San Diego, California
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Carmel Bach Festival, Carmel, California
Centrum Jazz Festival, Port Townsend, Washington
Free Hills Jazz Festival, Nagoya, Japan
Hilton Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
International Music Festival, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Jazz Alley, Seattle, Washington
Jazz At The Bistro, St. Louis, Missouri
Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City, New York
The Jazz Showcase, Chicago, Illinois
Jazz Standard, New York City, New York
The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
Kuchan Jazz Festival, Hokkaido, Japan
Kuumbwa Jazz, Santa Cruz, California
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Monterey Jazz Festival in Noto, Nanao, Japan
Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Canada
North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Sweet Rhythm, New York City, New York
Tokyo TUC Jazz Club, Tokyo, Japan
Tomisato Jazz Festival, Tomisato, Japan
Toronto Jazz Festival, Toronto, Canada
Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy
Vitello's Jazz Club, Los Angeles, California
Yoshi's, San Francisco, California
The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra has been performing on the Arena Stage since 1971, and has been part of the Monterey tradition of presenting young musicians at the Festival. Many of jazz's greatest stars have appeared with the band, including Louis Bellson, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, Oliver Nelson, Max Roach, Clark Terry, and many others.
In recent times the NGJO has performed with Regina Carter (2004); Branford Marsalis (2005); Kurt Elling (2006); Terence Blanchard (2007); Christian McBride (2008); Wynton Marsalis (2009); Dianne Reeves (2010); Joshua Redman (2011); Ambrose Akinmusire (2012); Joe Lovano (2013); Eric Harland (2014); Wynton Marsalis and Ted Nash (2015), and Terri Lyne Carrington (2016).
In addition, the 2008 NGJO was the backing band for Maceo Parker, and in 2014, the NGJO was the backing band for Michael Feinstein's "The Sinatra Project."