To support the creative process of jazz musicianship, the Student Jazz Combo Competition (SJCC) provided professional musicians to coach and mentor students from 11 Sonoma County high schools. In the process, students learned basic improvisation and small-combo dynamics formed groups and rehearsed for over three months in preparation for the competition. Each group/school worked closely with a designated liaison from the Healdsburg Jazz organizations staff. Jessica Felix was the program director and Kendrick Freeman the musician coordinator.
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SJCC addressed the goals of access, equity and opportunity and provided the incentive and encouragement students needed to experience the exhilaration of improvising in an ensemble. Based on the premise that small combos are well-suited for experiencing the true spirit of jazz, our goal was to encourage the groups to feel the excitement and fulfillment that accompanies improvisation and collaboration that exists among groups of dedicated musicians.
The combo format created opportunities for young musicians to perform solos and take risks that concert play or marching band membership seldom affords them. They experimented with leadership while exploring what the music offers, moving beyond simply reading the notes on a piece of paper to experiencing the feeling of jazz, and playing from the heart. The combo should play as a team that includes not only technique but also spirit and camaraderie to be successful.
This year, participating schools include:
- Casa Grande (Petaluma)
- El Molino Band 1 (Forestville)
- El Molino Band 2 (Forestville)
- Healdsburg High (Healdsburg)
- Montgomery High Band 1 (Santa Rosa)
- Montgomery High Band 2 (Santa Rosa)
- Petaluma High (Petaluma)
- Rincon Valley High (Santa Rosa)
- Sonoma Academy (Santa Rosa)
- Speed of Sound (Healdsburg)
- Windsor High (Windsor)