Cory Combs, Director of Education of SFJAZZ—the leading non-profit jazz organization on the West Coast and presenter of the 27th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival running October 10 through November 21—today announced the appointment of Paul Contos as the new Director of the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars. Founded in 2001 by Dr. Dee Spencer, the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars are selected annually by competitive audition. The All-Stars program provides advanced-level training in small and large ensemble performance, composition, jazz theory, improvisation, orchestration, arranging, the music business and performance opportunities. The SFJAZZ High School All-Stars have appeared at the San Francisco Jazz Festival annually since 2001, SFJAZZ Spring Season annually since 2004, and were finalists in 2002 and 2003 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Competition. They have also performed at community concerts, jazz clubs, festivals, museums, and community arts centers throughout California. The SFJAZZ ‘Meet The Masters’ program allows the All-Stars to attend workshops, masterclasses and mentoring sessions with leading artists such as Joshua Redman and the SFJAZZ Collective, Terence Blanchard, Ravi Coltrane, and Stefon Harris.
“We are thrilled Paul Contos has joined the SFJAZZ Education team as our Director of the High School All-Stars,” says Combs. “As a jazz educator and ensemble leader, Paul has built an international reputation for bringing the absolute best out of his students, from beginner to advanced. We look forward to the growth of the All-Stars program under his direction and we are pleased to share his expertise with jazz students in the Bay Area.”
As Director, Contos will rehearse the big band weekly with additional rehearsals, clinics and performances scheduled throughout the year including the All-Stars “Play Duke Ellington & The Sounds of the Harlem Renaissance” at the 27th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival on Sunday, November 1 at 3:00pm at YBCA Forum in San Francisco. He will oversee programmatic elements of the Combos program and he will facilitate the audition process. Contos will also support the recruitment and outreach in local schools SFJAZZ has consistently maintained in the Bay Area.
“I am very excited to be working with the SFJAZZ All-Stars and the Education Program of SFJAZZ,” says Contos. “The talent and reputation of the group is renowned, as the All-Star members represent the coming jazz stars and future architects of this precious art form. I look forward to further developing this talent and working with SFJAZZ to present these young people to audiences around the world.”
Since the 1970s, Paul Contos has been involved in jazz performance and education in the Bay Area and internationally. He has mentored and taught an impressive roster of musicians including Donny McCaslin, Hafez Modirzadeh, Remy and Pascal LeBoeuf, David Valdez, Kyle Athayde, Chase Baird, Milton Fletcher, Tanya Darby, Eric Crystal, Pat Carroll, Alex Han, and many others. His work for the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Education Program as Saxophone Clinician and Director of The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra and Monterey County All-Stars is distinguished.
Contos is a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz and Cal State University, Monterey Bay and he has taught at Monterey Peninsula College. He developed the curriculum and pedagogy for the Music Recording/Technology Concentration at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. He received three performer grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as serving as Artist In Residence for the California Arts Council. He conducts, performs, and adjudicates at college and high school jazz competitions internationally. In February 2009, Contos was featured as saxophone soloist at Carnegie Hall as part of New York City’s Distinguished Concerts International, performing a jazz concerto by composer Jeff Beal.
An inspiration and active in the formation of the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Contos and has played and recorded with many of the Bay Area’s finest jazz artists such as Ray Drummond, Eddie Marshall, Kenneth Nash, Vince Lateano, Madeline Eastman, Mark Levine, Rebeca Maulen, Bruce Forman, Tee Carson, Dave Eshelman and Ray Brown. He has shared the stage with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, the Heath Brothers, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Regina Carter, Gary Burton, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard, John Faddis, David “Fathead” Newman, and many others.
In the constant pursuit of compositions, orchestrations, and classic masterpieces for performance, Paul works with today’s best arrangers for the All-Star groups. As his guiding concept, Paul is constantly working to provide inspiration and motivation to the world’s young generation of new jazz artists for the continuation, persistence, and relentless development and evolution of the jazz language.
ABOUT SFJAZZ SFJAZZ, now in its 27th year, is the largest non-profit presenter of jazz in the western United States. SFJAZZ presents over 100 concerts a year to over 100,000 fans and is dedicated to advancing the art form of jazz and cultivating new jazz audiences through artistic and education programming, including: The San Francisco Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ Spring Season, SFJAZZ Collective, SFJAZZ Summerfest, SFJAZZ Education and SFJAZZ Membership.