The two jazz bands selected as finalists in the inaugural Generations International Competition for Emerging Combos feature students and alumni of the Jazz Studies program at the Purchase College School of the Arts, Conservatory of Music. The competition is sponsored by the International Center for the Arts (ICA) at San Francisco State University.
The two groups will be flown to San Francisco for several days of workshops with Generations mentor musicians Jimmy Cobb, drums; Ray Drummond, bass; Eric Alexander, tenor saxophone; Marcus Belgrave, trumpet; Ronnie Matthews, piano; and Andrew Speight, alto saxophone. On May 15, the bands will participate in a “Battle of the Combos” at the new San Francisco venue of famed Bay Area jazz club Yoshi’s. Their performances will be judged by the Generation mentors, with the winner announced immediately.
The winning band receives a one-year fellowship residency at San Francisco State University, including intensive group mentorship by the Generations musicians and a series of distinguished artists.
The finalists are the six-piece Purchase College-based ensemble Meaningtone, a powerful post bop/hard bop sextet with identical instrumentation as the Generations band. The group is comprised of James Moody Scholar Andrew Gould, alto saxophone; Sam Dillon, tenor saxophone; James Moody Scholar Max Darche, trumpet; Nick Consol, piano; Nate Allen, bass; and band leader Manuel Weyand, drums. In addition to their work together in and around New York City, the band members have studied and performed with artists including James Moody, Tito Puente and Ray Vega.
“We feel unbelievably fortunate to be a part of this program,” said Meaningtone band leader Weyand. “Receiving this level of mentorship as a band is very special. The most important musicians reached high levels of artistry by working within the same bands for years. That’s really what jazz is all about: the collaborative effort of forging individual musicians into a group sound.”
The other finalist is the Nial Djuliarso Quartet, offering a sound rooted in the tradition of artists like Clifford Brown and Horace Silver, featuring trumpeter Bruce Harris, a graduate student in the Purchase Jazz Studies program.
Last fall, ICA sent an announcement about the competition to over 250 university jazz programs around the world. The competition criteria called for groups of four to seven instrumentalists, 30 years of age or younger, whose members held at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent training. Each group was asked to record three songs from among a short list of medium tempo blues and jazz standards like Thelonius Monk’s “Straight No Chaser,” and John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice.” The Generations band members judged the recorded entries, listening for bands with the best ensemble interplay, the tightest grooves and the most imaginative voicings. Meaningtone and the Nial Djuliarso Quartet stood out.