Juilliard Forms its First Jazz Orchestra

On May 23, the Juilliard School of Music announced the selection of 18 instrumentalists who will form the core of the newly-created Juilliard Jazz Orchestra. As orchestra members, the musicians will benefit from tuition-free study at the school's recently established Juilliard Institute for Jazz. The creation of the institute—a collaboration of the Juilliard School and the "Jazz at Lincoln Center" program—is an indication that the prestigious institution is further acknowledging the importance of jazz, an indigenous American genre that many critics have called "the classical music of the 20th century."

The 18 Juilliard Jazz Orchestra members include Erica Von Kleist (alto saxophone), from Connecticut, a winner of DownBeat magazine's Student Music Awards in 1999 and 2000 for "Best Composition," "Best Arrangement," and "Outstanding Soloist." Ms. Von Kleist studied at the Manhattan School of Music and played lead sax in the Grammy Jazz Band at the Grammy Nominee party in Los Angeles in 2000. Alto saxophonist Diron Holloway, from Miami, will join Von Kleist in the orchestra. An honors graduate in music education from Florida A&M University, Holloway recently received a master's degree in performance/jazz studies from Northern Illinois University, where he performed as a member of the NIU Jazz Ensemble, appearing with artists of the caliber of Wynton Marsalis, Carl Allen, Nat Adderley, and Benny Golson.

Among the orchestra's tenor sax players will be Ryan Redden, also from Florida. Redden is a graduate of William Paterson University, with a bachelor of arts degree in jazz studies, who in May 2000 won the Charlie Parker Saxophone Competition. Redden's WPU fellow alumnus Adam Niewood will also play tenor saxophone. A professor of Jazz Saxophone, Jazz History, and small ensembles at Montclair State University, Niewood is the son of jazz saxophonist Gerry Niewood. Frank Basile will handle the orchestra's baritone sax duties. A native of Nebraska and a 2000 graduate of the University of North Texas, Basile was a winner in DownBeat's 24th Annual Student Music Awards competition.

The orchestra's three trombone players will be Jennifer Krupa, Michael Lucke, and Ryan Keberle. Krupa received her bachelor of music degree from the University of North Florida and has been a member of the Universal Studios' Brass Band, the Larry Elgart Orchestra, and the Benny Goodman Orchestra under the direction of Bob Wilbur. Texas native Lucke graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor of music degree in 2001. He has performed and recorded with the University of North Texas Wind Symphony and has appeared with Kenny Wheeler, Joe Lovano, and the Brecker Brothers. Keberle, from Washington State, received his bachelor of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and was selected to be a Yamaha Young Performing Artist in 1998.

Four trumpeters will round out the horn section, including Ohio's Dominick Farinacci, winner of "Outstanding Trumpet Soloist" at the 2001 Monterey Jazz Festival's 31st Annual High School Competition. Farinacci is a soloist with the Grammy High School Jazz Band and performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in a Louis Armstrong tribute on PBS in December 2000. Farinacci won a Yamaha Young Performing Artist Award in 1998. Brandon Lee, who also performed with Marsalis in the Armstrong tribute, is a winner of the 2001 Clifford Brown & Stan Getz Fellowship Award, and the 2001 Bob Ostrum Jazz Scholarship Award. Lee also recently won a DownBeat's 24th Annual Student Music Award. Iowa's Justin Kisor, who began playing trumpet at age 13, is a Carnegie Hall veteran and a member of the National High School Grammy Ensemble. Kisor received a Clifford Brown & Stan Getz Fellowship in 1997. Jumaane Smith, who began playing the trumpet at the age of 10, is from the state of Washington State. Smith has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, The North Sea Jazz Festival, and the Montreal Jazz Festival, and has worked with artists such as Jimmy Owens, Cecil Bridgewater, Andrew Cyrille, and George Garzone.

Adam Birnbaum and Dan Kaufman will play piano with the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra. Birnbaum, from Massachusetts, has a BS degree in computer science from Boston College. Last year, he was named "Outstanding College Rhythm Section Player" at the Reno Jazz Festival. Birnbaum is the first two-time winner of the Boston College Concerto Competition. Kaufman, from Illinois, is a graduate of the New England Conservatory and has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Bank of Boston Celebrity Series, the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, and the Jazz Aspen Festival in Colorado.

Bassists include Tufts University graduate Craig Polasko, from Connecticut and New Mexico resident Matt Brewer. Polasko performed with the John Lamkin Quintet under the direction of trumpet player Darren Barrett and has been a recent contributing composer for two Boston-based projects: the Mela Monk Quartet and the New Millennium Group. Brewer won an Outstanding Jazz Performer award at the University of New Mexico Jazz Festival. He has played with Dan Gottlieb, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, and Bobby Watson. Brewer is also a classical musician and has appeared as a member of the World Youth Symphony.

Floridian Ulysses Owens, another winner of a DownBeat 24th Annual Student Music Award, will play drums for the orchestra. Owens has performed at international festivals, including the Nantes Jazz Festival in Nantes, France, and was invited to tour Japan with the Randall Haywood Ensemble in 2001. The group's other drummer will be New York's Carmen Intorre, a student at the New School, where he is a member of the Big Band. He has performed with DD Jackson, Ralph Alessi, Bill Kirchner, and Chuck Mangione. Intorre is a 1999 recipient of the Yamaha Young Performing Artist Award.

Up to $5000 in performance stipends will be available to orchestra members. Each musician who completes the two-year jazz studies program—which includes classes and seminars in jazz history, improvisation, composition, and arranging, as well as master classes with Jimmy Heath, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, and Herlin Riley—will receive an Artist Diploma from Juilliard. The group will have its official debut Tuesday, October 30, 2001 in Alice Tully Hall, under the direction of Michael Morgan. Guest artists will include Marsalis and Victor Goines.