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Local high school jazz musicians to rock Yoshi’s, Todos Santos and Sleep Train pavilion

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 7:15 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Music, Theresa Harrington.

Musicians from Walnut Creek’s two high schools will perform at Yoshi’s in Oakland one week apart.

First up is the Las Lomas High School Jazz Band at 8 p.m. tonight.

“The students have worked hard this year, and this performance will be a fitting highlight to showcase their accomplishments,” said John Schroder, instrumental music director at Las Lomas, in a news release.

Proceeds will benefit the Performing Arts Foundation at Las Lomas. Tickets, which cost $15, are available at the door.

Here’s the Las Lomas Jazz Band playing in San Ramon in December:

Northgate High School’s award-winning Jazz Band will perform next Monday, May 16, at celebrated jazz nightspot Yoshi’s in Oakland, along with its award-winning jazz combo “Jibba Jabba.”

The event will also feature renowned percussionist Edgardo Cambón, leader of the Bay Area salsa band Candela, sitting in with the Northgate musicians.

The groups will play at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. at the world-famous jazz venue in Oakland’s Jack London Square, capping an exciting season of awards and honors. Past Northgate jazz band performances have sold out, based on the school’s growing reputation for producing top-rated jazz musicians in the state and country.

Nate Schwartz, a sophomore who plays trumpet and guitar, said the Yoshi’s gig is a highlight for the groups, which have garnered high praise from judges at several student jazz band competitions.

“Yoshi’s, to me is just kind of like the culmination of everything that the jazz band has worked on over the course of the entire year,” Nate said. “And it’s really cool that the Northgate jazz band gets to play on the same stage as all the famous people who have played at Yoshi’s.”

The Northgate High Jazz Band plays styles ranging from Ellington to Mingus to straight-ahead and Latin jazz. It is comprised of 22 musicans, including seven who also perform in the combo.

Band director Greg Brown said the Northgate Jazz Band took second place at the Folsom and Campana jazz festivals this year, along with fourth at the prestigious “Next Generation Jazz Festival” in Monterey, which featured top high school jazz musicians from throughout the state who were accepted to participate in the competition based on auditions. In addition, the jazz combo took first place at the Folsom Jazz Festival and third at the Next Generation festival, Brown said.

“Both groups will be featured at the Yoshi’s show,” he said proudly. “Our average score for all of our jazz festivals this year is over 95 percent.”

Professional and semi-professional musicians and music educators judge the festivals.Many of the band’s soloists also have received special recognition for their performances over the year.

The Jazz Band’s Yoshi’s performance raises funds for the Northgate Instrumental Music Boosters. The boosters purchase musical instruments, arrange transportation to school music festivals, and provide other support to the instrumental music program at Walnut Creek’s Northgate High School.

Tickets are $15 for the 8 p.m. performance and $12 for the 10 p.m. show. They can be be purchased from Yoshi’s box office, at the door or by contacting Ellen Lyons at

For ticket information contact Yoshi’s at (510) 238-9200 or visit

For further information on the Northgate High School Jazz Band or the May 16 gig contact Greg Brown at (925) 938-0900 or; or Ellen Lyons at

Here’s the Northgate Band playing “Wind Machine” in December:

Concord High School’s Jazz Ensemble recently won a first place Gold Award, Outstanding Band Group, and Adjudicator’s Award at the San Diego Heritage Music Festival. The Mt. Diablo school board will recognize the ensemble, along with the school’s other music groups, Tuesday night.

The Concord Jazz Ensemble will perform at Todos Santos Park from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, May 12 and at the All Area Music Festival at at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14 at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord.

The Thursday “Music and Market” event in Concord is free. Tickets to the Saturday All Area Music Festival cost $10 for the first ticket and $5 for each additional ticket, if purchased in advance at Tickets will cost $12 for adults and $6 for students on the day of the festival, which will benefit the Mt. Diablo Education Music Education Festival.

Here’s the Concord High Jazz Ensemble performing at the Concord Tree Lighting in December:


Other groups performing at the festival are: The Ygnacio Valley High Ensemble, soloists from Clayton Valley High, Sleep Crisis (students from Clayton Valley High), combined choir from Wren Elementary and Pleasant Hill Elementary, the Valle Verde Elementary afterschool band, Foothill Middle School Concert Band, Westwood Elementary Show Choir (will be performing part of their musical “Yee Ha!”), Mt. Diablo High Voice Ensemble, from Concord High the String Orchestra, Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble, and from Northgate High, the Symphonic Band, and the Wind Ensemble.

The district has eliminated fourth- and fifth-grade instrumental music, due to budget cuts. It also wants to eliminate the elementary vocal music prep periods, which are currently taught by credentialed music instructors.

Do you think the district should strive to retain its elementary vocal music programs?

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2 Responses to “Local high school jazz musicians to rock Yoshi’s, Todos Santos and Sleep Train pavilion”

  1. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Not only do we need to retain vocal music, we need to reinstate elementary instrumental music. It’s not just a “prep period” for the teachers, it’s actual learning time for students! Concord High’s band teachers, Mr. Coartney, is worth ten times his weight in gold. He demands excellence from his students, and they give him that and more. I shudder to think where some of his students would be without his superior teaching and guiding influence.

  2. Michael McNally Says:

    Not only should the school district strive to retain its elementary vocal music programs, but instrumental music should be brought back. Music students do better on test scores, have better attendance records and graduation rate. While the local music programs are getting awards now, next year’s 6th graders will be the first without exposure to instrumental music education and eventually this will be felt in the high school level. This will be a challenge for our high schools to do as well as students won’t be as prepared as those that start music in their early years. Another concern is that fewer students may take up music if they don’t start early. Early exposure to music for students is critical in their development.

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