It seems everyone has figured out how amazing BHS’s Jazz Combo A is — just two days after winning the combo division at the Reno Jazz Festival, and a month after winning the same division at the prestigious Monterey NextGen Jazz Festival, Berkeley High’s Combo A was named High School Combo of the Year by Downbeat Magazine. This is the number one jazz trade magazine in the US, and Liam Collins (alto sax), Hugo Shiboski (tenor sax), Sam Klein-Markman (guitar), Michael Orenstein (piano), Max Schwartz (bass) and Marcelo Perez (drums) beat out groups from across the nation.
This is the SECOND YEAR IN A ROW that BHS’s Jazz Combo A has won both the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Downbeat Magazine Award — and the 2 combos that did this had entirely different personnel. The Jazz Program is directed by Berkeley High School Teacher Sarah Cline.
Jazz combos are built around the values of individual expression within an environment of intricate, sensitive group interaction and cooperation. For BHS to produce so many outstanding combo musicians for decades in a row does not mean there is “something in the water up there in Berkeley,” as some journalists like to suggest. Rather, it means we come from a community that shares and supports these values. There are tons of examples of student creativity and voice and cooperative art-making bursting out of the seams of the Berkeley High School campus, as well as the community at large. Berkeley was named one of the best communities nationwide for music education, in large part because our population has voted for parcel taxes specifically to provide opportunities for our young people for just the kind of creative growth and expression exemplified by our jazz combos.
Combo A’s continued domination of the jazz world is reason for all of us to be proud. Congratulations to Combo A! Keep your eyes on these guys, you’ll hear about them in years to come.
You can catch them for the Final Jazz Concert for this school year:
June 7th, 7 p.m. Florence Schwimley Little Theatre (This concert is epic. It will feature all 3 big bands, 5 or 6 combos, senior awards, etc. etc. etc. FREE to BHS staff and students, $10 to other adults, $3 youth/seniors.)