Valencia High School’s “Two N’ Four” Vocal Jazz Ensemble was one of two high school vocal groups from across the nation chosen to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival with Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter and Pat Metheny this September.
Over the weekend, 68 groups from around the nation auditioned at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey in front more than 1,000 people. Mel Torme’s son James, a singer like his father, arranger Kerry Marsh and vocalist Michele Weir were the judges. Eight finalists were chosen, which not only included “Two N’ Four” but also the second group from Valencia: “Soundwaves.”
“We were really thinking we would do well because we have worked so hard and have great discipline,” said Valencia High’s choir teacher Christine Mocha. “They sound really good, but it’s great when you don’t expect it. When they were called the kids screamed in excitement.”
The icing on the cake was Valencia’s James Meske winning the Best Soloist Award of the festival.
“I am just bursting at the seams proud of my students to be one of the two schools to come back and perform at the famous Monterey Jazz Festival,” Mocha said. “We are the only public school to get this chance. We beat performing arts schools from across the country, so this is a BIG deal.”
The audience was made up mostly of jazz players and enthusiasts. When “Two N’ Four” finished performing, the audience gave them a standing ovation.
“That moved me to tears,” Mocha said.
The Monterey Jazz Festival, which debuted in 1958, will be held from September 16 to 18.
Members include James Meske, Zachary Wong, John McCloud, Natasha Monnett, Maya Brown, Zoe Jordan Oketch, Hannah Wacholtz, Sophia Bellefeuille, Tanner Ming, Reid Bowman, Cole Rademacher.