Fifth National Monterey Jazz Festival Group Features Cécile McLorin Salvant, Bria Skonberg, Melissa Aldana, Christian Sands, Yasushi Nakamura, and Jamison Ross
It’s millennials only for the Monterey Jazz Festival’s fifth national tour arriving at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center for their Presenting Series debut on Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. Featuring some of the most critically-acclaimed, Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated jazz artists of their generation, including three winners of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour will truly showcase the next generation of jazz legends, including Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocals; Bria Skonberg, trumpet, vocals; Melissa Aldana, tenor saxophone; Christian Sands, piano and musical director; Yasushi Nakamura, bass, and Jamison Ross, drums, vocals.
As the longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world, Monterey Jazz Festival will expand on its tradition of presenting the best in jazz, and of jazz’s younger, international and diverse future in 2019. “This will be the 10-year anniversary of MJF on Tour and it is also one of our most exciting,” said Tim Jackson, MJF artistic director. “With a strong female presence on the front line with Cécile, Melissa, and Bria, and the mastery of Christian Sands as our pianist and musical director, we are looking forward to spreading the joy of jazz, which is the essence of the Monterey Jazz Festival, to rest of the country.”
One of the most acclaimed vocalists of her generation, Cécile McLorin Salvant is the winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Other honors include selection for Jazz Album of the Year by the DownBeat International Critics Poll and NPR, as well as Top Female Vocalist from the Jazz Journalists Association. Cécile grew up in a bilingual household in Miami and traveled to Aix-en-Provence to pursue a degree in French law while training as a classical and baroque singer before switching to jazz. Her three Mack Avenue releases, For One to Love, Dreams and Daggers, and The Window each won Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Rolling Stone describes Cécile as “One of the greatest jazz singers of her generation, but that label sells her short.”
Canadian singer, trumpeter and songwriter Bria Skonberg has been described as one of the “most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation” by the Wall Street Journal, recognized as one of 25 for the Future by DownBeat Magazine, and cited as a millennial “shaking up the jazz world” by Vanity Fair. Signed to Sony Music Masterworks’ OKeh Records, Bria released her major label debut in 2016, winning a Canadian JUNO award and making the Top 5 on Billboard jazz charts. Her many accolades include Best Vocal and Best Trumpet awards from Hot House Jazz Magazine and DownBeat’s Rising Star award. In addition to performing at jazz festivals around the world, Bria is an avid educator, giving numerous workshops and concerts for students of all ages.
Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana was born in Santiago, Chile, and in 2013, she became the first female instrumentalist and the first South American ever to win the Thelonious Monk Competition. Aldana attended the Berklee College of Music, studying with George Garzone, Danilo Pérez and Patricia Zarate, while hitting the clubs with Greg Osby and George Coleman, among others. She is also a recipient of the Martin E. Segal Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center and is a double recipient of the Altazor Award, Chile’s highly prestigious national arts prize. She has released four albums as a leader, including her latest, Back Home, on Concord. Melissa “…balances technical bravura with musical depth, a hallmark of her playing,” writes the Chicago Tribune.
“With a strong female presence on the front line with Cécile, Melissa, and Bria, and the mastery of Christian Sands as our pianist and musical director, we are looking forward to spreading the joy of jazz, which is the essence of the Monterey Jazz Festival, to rest of the country.”
Pianist and MJF on Tour Music Director Christian Sands is a five-time Grammy nominee. Growing up in New Haven, Connecticut, he started playing professionally at the age of 10, and received his bachelor of arts and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. A protégé of Dr. Billy Taylor, Sands began a six-year association with bassist Christian McBride in 2009, and has followed in Dr. Taylor’s footsteps by encouraging, inspiring, and advocating for the preservation and history of jazz. In 2015, he started the Jazz Kids of Montmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark; he also teaches at Jazz in July, where he is an alumnus. His second Mack Avenue release, Facing Dragons, was reviewed by NPR as a “…crisply assured new album…that expresses new ideas without abandoning the old.”
Bassist Yasushi Nakamura is one of the most commanding voices on bass today. Born in Tokyo, Nakamura moved to Seattle, Washington, eventually receiving his bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from Berklee College of Music, and an artist diploma from the Juilliard School. He has recorded or performed around the world with Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Hank Jones, Dave Douglas, and many others. As an educator, Nakamura has led master classes and summer intensive courses at Juilliard, The New School, Koyo Conservatory, Osaka Geidai, and Savannah Swing Central. Nakamura made his record debut as a leader in 2016 with A Lifetime Treasure, followed by Hometown in 2017.
Grammy-nominated drummer and vocalist Jamison Ross won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2012. A Jacksonville, Florida native, Jamison received his B.A. in Jazz Studies from Florida State University and his master’s from the University of New Orleans. He has toured internationally and recorded with Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jonathan Batiste, Dr. John, Jon Cleary, Christian McBride, and Carmen Lundy. His Concord debut, Jamison, was nominated as for a Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy in 2015, and his latest, All for One, was released in 2018. Jamison’s “roots in jazz and gospel give him thrilling chops and unfailing feel,” writes NPR.
The Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates the legacy of jazz, expands its boundaries, and provides opportunities to experience jazz through the creative production of performances and educational programs.