NJPAC has announced the debut of The Brick City Jazz Orchestra

NEWARK – Nineteen of the most talented teenage jazz players in the Greater Newark area will receive the extraordinary opportunity to heighten their skills as musicians and bandmates this Fall with the creation of The Brick City Jazz Orchestra, a collaboration between NJPAC and the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz.

As NJPAC’s newest arts education initiative, the 18-piece BCJO ensemble will allow students to collaborate as performing artists and serve as cultural ambassadors for both Newark and the state of New Jersey, touring both regionally and nationally.

The formation of the BCJO adds an exciting new chapter to Newark’s rich jazz legacy, which reaches back to the days when such luminaries as Sarah Vaughan, Woody Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins could be heard in the downtown’s clubs and halls.

Legendary jazz label Savoy Records made Newark its home for many years, and one of the city’s sons, revered saxophonist James Moody, is remembered to this day by NJPAC’s week-long TD James Moody Democracy of Jazz Festival, being held this year from Nov. 4 to10.

Some of the world’s most respected jazz artists and educators will guide the BCJO members. James Burton III, conductor of the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra and associate conductor of Wynton Marsalis’ new Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Star Orchestra, will conduct the BCJO.

Internationally acclaimed GRAMMY-nominated vibraphonist Stefon Harris will serve as artist-in-residence, providing artistic leadership and instruction in jazz theory. A preliminary roster of guest artists and coaches includes jazz masters Geri Allen, Carl Allen, Christian McBride, Jon Faddis and Benny Golson, among others. In addition to teaching musicianship, the faculty will provide sectional support and mentor the young musicians on their art, professionalism and life choices.

James Burton III will share direction of rehearsals with Dr. JB Dyas, Vice President, Education and Curriculum Development, at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. BCJO members will receive instrumental lessons and attend workshops in jazz theory, ear training and composition and arranging.

The BCJO will rehearse weekly at NJPAC, from October to May, with rehearsal performances taking place during the academic year. The BCJO’s official debut performance will be at the Women’s Association of NJPAC Luncheon in May 2014.

Nurturing the next generation of jazz musicians is an ever-present goal and reality for NJPAC, which has been committed to the highly successful Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program since its founding in 1998. The existence of the BCJO will tighten the bonds among the Arts Education Department’s additional jazz programs and their students. In addition to the benefits of professional mentoring, the BCJO program builds self-confidence, leadership qualities, creative expression and a spirit of teamwork within its members.

After auditioning in front of a panel of jazz educators on Sept. 28, the following 19 high school students have been selected to participate:

Gregory Fassuliotis, 17, of Woodcliff Lake, Pascack Hills High School, alto saxophone; Simon Crosby-Arreaza, 16, of Union, Union High School, alto sax; Jonathan Jett, 16, of East Orange, Cicely Tyson High School of the Performing Arts, baritone sax; Liany Mateo, 15, of Jersey City, Snyder High School, bass; Joseph Quiles, 18, of Newark, Arts High School, bass; Jared Silverstein, 16, of Hillsborough, Hillsborough High School, drum; Zack Lorelli, 17, of Montclair, Montclair High School, drum; Rahsaan Pickett, 17, of Newark, Arts High School, guitar; Justin Bocchino, 17, of Cedar Knolls, Whippany Park High School, guitar; Galo Inga, 16, of Newark, Arts High School, piano; Darius Phillips, 15, of East Orange, Cicely Tyson High School of the Performing Arts, piano; Luca Farrel, 17, of Nutley, Nutley High School, piano; Matthew Ward, 16, of Berkeley Heights, Governor Livingston High School, tenor sax; Luxshman Saravapavan, 17, of Summit, Morristown Beard School, tenor sax; Justin Branch, 16, of Plainfield, Plainfield Academy for the Arts & Advanced Studies, trombone; Alan Hsaio, 17, of Hillsborough, Somerville High School, trombone; Jason Worthem, 16, of South Plainfield, South Plainfield High School, trumpet; Carlos Juncal, 16, of Newark, Arts High School, trumpet; and Matthew Branch, 15, of Plainfield, Plainfield Academy for the Arts & Advanced Studies, trumpet.

“The Brick City Jazz Orchestra is about the transformative power of music. These young musicians represent the best that the Greater Newark area has to offer. On audition day there was a strong sense that NJPAC was doing something that has the potential to be transformational in the lives of these young people,” said Laurie Carter, NJPAC’s Vice President of Arts Education. “James Burton III and the team of section mentors he assembled instantly bonded with the group, and it was evident that the young people of the Greater Newark area are ready to take on the world under the mentorship of world-class musicians.”

“As a young person starting out in the music business, I spent a lot of time on the road with big bands and big band leaders,” says NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber, who worked with the orchestras of Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich in an early career producing jazz festivals. “I learned that a big band is a family of talented musicians who all aspire to common goals of excellence in artistry and performance. The Arts Center’s new Brick City Jazz Orchestra will deliver that and more: an opportunity for students to develop collaborative skills and a sense of shared responsibility. The next chapter of Newark’s great jazz history is about to get played, and I can’t wait!”