Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Beat Comes Back – CoSA Coronado Jazz Fest Returns May 6, 2023

This free event takes place Saturday, May 6, from 8 am to 4 pm at Coronado High School, filling the CHS auditorium, Black Box theater and Band Room with a full musical revival.

CHS Jazz Ensemble. Photo courtesy of CoSA

For nearly 20 years, Coronado School of the Arts welcomed the month of May with rhythm, harmony, syncopation and song, all packaged nicely into the CoSA Coronado JazzFest. More than a festival, it is an educational musical competition, a battle of the bands if you will. A long string of these regular competitions came to a three-year halt due to Covid, but on Saturday, May 6, from 8 am to 4 pm, fabulous sounds will once again be filling the Coronado High School auditorium, Black Box theater and Band Room with a full musical revival underway.

The JazzFest will feature over 20 ensembles of all sizes, instrumentation mixes and experience levels, from Middle, Intermediate, and High School on up to College/Independent entrants, competing in five divisions. Bands from all over Southern California, from as far away as Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa have committed to participate. Of course, that is not to mention all the exceptional San Diego entries that include two of our own CoSA Jazz Ensembles.

Groups perform for 25 minutes in front of a panel of professional jazz clinicians and adjudicators. After each session the judges provide constructive feedback to each ensemble, commenting on how well they did and suggesting things they might work on. This year’s distinguished judge panel includes John Rekevics (Sax – Big Time Operator), Justin Grinnell (Bass – w/ Peter Sprague),  Melonie Grinnell (Piano – Ass’t Professor, Grossmont College), Jim Linahon (Trumpet – Studio Musician, Composer, Educator), Doug Meeuwsen (Trumpet – Big Time Operator) and Bob Boss (Guitar – A.J. Croce, Palomar College, Mundell Lowe).

Dr. Andrew Steinberg, Chair of the Conservatory of Instrumental Music at Coronado School of the Arts, and JazzFest Director has been instrumental to this revival. He shared his enthusiasm for the event with us, noting that “It’s exciting to build on the legacy of Coronado JazzFest and bring back a tradition that gives young artists a chance to rethink and reimagine music with some of the best in the business!”

And when he says the best in the business, he has plenty to back that up. The program gets a big boost from the San Diego State University Jazz Ensemble, composed of top-notch players from all over the U.S. and led by former CoSA faculty member, Karl Soukup, who is now the SDSU Interim Director of Jazz Studies. The band will perform their usually phenomenal noon-time concert in the school auditorium. Be there!

Salt & Pepper Clinic. Photo: Andy Koczon

Along with this highly accomplished College band, The Bill Yeager Jazz Orchestra (BYJO), will also be taking the stage as part of the “Salt and Pepper” clinics, that match professional players with the various bands competing at the JazzFest. Comprised of some of the finest jazz talent in Southern California, BYJO features many alumni from Yeager’s 36 years as Director of Jazz Studies at San Diego State University and his 10 years as Founder/Director of the Los Angeles Jazz Workshop. With five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, and a four-person rhythm section that includes piano, guitar, drums and a bass, this group may just push out the walls of the Band Room! And when they play alongside the participating bands, you can see the bright light of musical education shining. Together they make a joyful noise.

🎶 JazzFest is Free, Saturday, May 6, 2023 beginning at 8 am

The best part of the JazzFest, is that it’s FREE. Getting to see and hear this cornucopia of youthful jazz performers get encouragement from the judges and professional musicians, is a thing of beauty. You won’t want to miss it. Once again, it launches Saturday, May 6, beginning at 8 am, all at Coronado High School, 650 D Avenue.

Finally, not only has the beat come back, but also, the beat goes on. Plans are already in motion for the 2024 event.

Coda: Volunteers and donations are still being sought for this year’s JazzFest. Volunteer opportunities abound for Check-In, Runners, Judge’s Assistants, Stage/Theater Setup, Performance Area Managers, Tabulation/Certification, etc., and one can sign up or scan at Coronado JazzFest Volunteers 2023 .

For donations and any other inquiries about JazzFest, please contact the organizers at [email protected].

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Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]