The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra (known from 1971 to 2004 as the MJF High School All-Star Big Band) nurtures future jazz stars through a program that selects the best and brightest high school jazz musicians in America. In 2008, the 23-piece ensemble features members selected from 18 high schools from the four corners of the country.
Previous Monterey teen sensations have gone on to shape modern jazz, including pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen, bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Chad Wackerman and saxophonists Joshua Redman and Dave Koz.
Under the direction of Paul Contos, the saxophonist and flutist who directs the Next
Generation, the ensemble tackles the most challenging big band charts it can find.
Contos considers Frenay one of his "key soloists," but he won't be the only one.
"All of these players have already garnered reputations as highly skilled and prominent
voices for the future of jazz," the bandleader said.
Before the NGJO commences rehearsals July 5 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Frenay will be on the bandstand when the MPH Jazz Combo plays the national Grid Scholastic Stage at this year's JGB Syracuse Jazz Fest, beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday June 28 at Onondaga Community College.
No doubt, the young man with a horn will also seek out 2008 Jazz Fest Artist-in-Residence Randy Brecker for a few brass tacks.
Nationwide radio exposure
The same day he's playing the Syracuse Jazz Fest, Frenay will get some national exposure on the syndicated radio game show, "Says You," which airs locally at noon on Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. Sunday on WRVO-FM. Frenay's septet taped the shows some months ago at the Palace Theater in Eastwood.
Next month, Frenay will travel with the NGJO to the 33rd Annual North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, for a July 7 concert. While in Rotterdam they will perform three times, returning to Boston on July 13. A disc is also planned for the summer.
On Sept. 20, the orchestra will back up saxophonist Maceo Parker at the 51st Monterey Jazz Festival Presented by Verizon. The next day, Sept. 21, the Next Generationers will accompany bassist Christian McBride.