Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two Monterey High School jazz musicians take center stage

Akili Bradley, left, and Marina Panzetta.
Two Monterey High School juniors who have been sitting in with jazz pros at the Hyatt Regency Monterey will be the center of attention Friday night as the Fireplace Lounge's featured performers.

Saxophonist Marina Panzetta and trumpeter Akili Bradley have made quite the impression on Hyatt jazz director and drummer in residence David Morwood.

They've studied with Monterey Jazz Festival clinicians and jammed with professional musicians during the hotel's weekly jazz program.

And their confidence is unshakable.

“I remember the weekend of the jazz festival, the room was packed with professional musicians and sophisticated fans," Morwood said. "They walked right up to me and said, ‘We want to play a Herbie Hancock tune, "Cantaloupe Island."' ... ‘They were so confident and clear and they knew what they wanted to do. They sat in with the professional band behind them and they held their own and really made the tune swing.”

They continued to practice and improve, he said, so “at a certain point I realized I wasn’t doing them any favors by having them sit in.”

He challenged them to come up with a list of 15 jazz tunes to play while backed up by a professional rhythm section. They came up with a mix of bebop, swing, jazz and bossa nova.

The program is from 7-10 p.m. It's what Morwood calls a Las Vegas-style set, with the house band -- Morwood, Gary Meek on keyboards and Billy Bosch on bass -- playing a few tunes, followed by Marina and Akili playing seven or eight songs. That format will repeat after an intermission.

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