WALNUT CREEK -- The Northgate High Instrumental Music Boosters group has launched a fundraising campaign to cover the $5,000 transportation and lodging costs for the school's 2013—2014 jazz band to perform Sept. 21 at the world-renowned Monterey Jazz Festival.

Northgate's Jazz Band I took first place in the High School Big Band Division at Monterey's highly competitive Next Generation Jazz Festival in March 2014.

"Northgate is the only San Francisco Bay Area public school that has performed in the audition-only Next Generation Jazz Festival each of the past six years," said Northgate Music Director Greg Brown. "We have taken fourth place before, but this was Northgate's first win and ticket to the Monterey Jazz Festival stage."

Justin Lewis, an 11th grader at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, Calif., plays trumpet with the horn section in the Northgate High School Big Band on
Justin Lewis, an 11th grader at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, Calif., plays trumpet with the horn section in the Northgate High School Big Band on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The Monterey Jazz Festival has named Northgate High as the 2014 winner of it's award for best high school big band. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

Band trumpet player Edward Evans, one of seven senior band members who graduated from Northgate in June, said, "Going to Monterey means that all of our hard work has paid off, finally."

Added trombonist Zac Robbins, "The chance to play at Monterey means that the band has achieved a level of accomplishment that we've been working toward for years. We practice all the time, we have sectionals, and we perfect every little thing in class."

But the Monterey trip involves some complicated logistics.

"Rehearsals will continue throughout the summer, and all the seniors who will have already settled into college will come back to reunite with the band for Northgate's unprecedented trip and performance in Monterey," says Jazz Band parent representative Alice Mace Nakanishi.


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The graduated seniors will be returning from universities all around California, including USC and UCLA in Los Angeles, UC Santa Barbara, San Diego State University, and Chico State University; one student is even traveling from Brigham Young University in Utah.

The Northgate High School music program includes more than 150 students who participate in three concert bands, an orchestra, two jazz bands, and a marching band.

While the Mt. Diablo Unified School District contributes about $1,600 annually to the music department, the program relies on multiple fundraisers and direct contributions to pay for the overwhelming majority of the costs for all the groups. This year's fundraisers included a March-A-Thon and candy sales as well as multiple concerts at Northgate High School, at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, and Yoshi's Jazz Club in Oakland.

Unfortunately, the successful annual car wash fundraisers were canceled due to the drought.

Northgate Jazz Band I students recognize that they are in for the thrill of a lifetime.

Said Lauren Brown, who plays piano and Latin percussion, "How many high school students get to say they've played in the Monterey Jazz Festival with their band?"

The "Movin' On to Monterey" online donation campaign was launched at Yoshi's Oakland in May and has already raised $1,480 of the $5,000 needed to fund the trip.

Northgate Jazz Band I: A day at the Monterey Jazz Festival
The jazz band's performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival is Sunday, Sept. 21 at 12:30 p.m. on the festival's Garden Stage. Tickets are available at www.montereyjazzfestival.org
  • Tax-deductible donations may be made at northgatehs-pfc.com/MontereyJF.html, or sent to NIMB, PO Box 30232, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
  • Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NIMBnorthgate
  • To see a video of the band members' thoughts on the trip, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ntW3FMZV2A