Since 1989, the Monterey Jazz Festival has been running a cultural exchange program, which involves sending national and local high school all-star bands to perform at Monterey’s sister city in Noto, Japan, almost every year. When the program was expanded, the Tomisato Jazz Festival was added to the tour.
This year, the Monterey Jazz Festival will once again return the favor by welcoming the Tomisato High School Mad Hatters to the 46th Next Generation Jazz Festival, which takes place on April 8-10, for exhibition performances and a cultural overview of Monterey County, coordinated in partnership with the Salinas Valley Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.
Directed by Masaki Shinohara, a protégé of Wynton Marsalis, the Mad Hatters are recent winners of the East Japanese Jazz Competition, and have visited Monterey and performed at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in 2008, 2011 and 2013.
Paul Contos, Monterey Jazz Festival education director, visited Japan last year on a six-day educational and performance tour, where he gave instrumental and improvisational workshops, directed the Mad Hatters and performed with the High Notes Jazz Orchestra at the Tomisato Jazz Festival. He said, ““We are excited to once again welcome our very dear friends from Tomisato. They have hosted us many times during our tours to Japan. The Mad Hatters are superbly directed by Mr. Shinohara, and carry on the jazz legacy by swinging and playing expertly.”
Monterey Jazz Festival managing director Colleen Bailey remarked, “We look forward to welcoming these talented students from Japan to our area and our festival. And we look forward to seeing them again in July when our Next Generation Jazz Orchestra travels to Japan.”