The stage of the Piazza IV Novembre traditionally hosts big bands from all-grade schools, from university colleges to high schools. They mostly come from the States, but this year, there is a band from the United Kingdom and one from the Czech Republic.
This is a crucial section of music in the squares because these orchestras play good music in a dimension of cultured amateurism and tomorrow’s professional jazzmen grow among those sections.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the award-winning El Cerrito High School Jazz Ensemble is part of a dynamic band program that holds a long tradition of excellence. In its over 50-year history, the El Cerrito Jazz Ensemble has been recognized as one of California’s top high school jazz bands and has performed in venues throughout the United States and abroad. Led by El Cerrito alumnus, Keith Johnson, the El Cerrito Jazz Ensemble has earned top ratings and first place awards at numerous jazz festivals across the west coast and have been finalists at Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Over the past 10 years the group has hosted and performed alongside prominent jazz artists that include Chris Potter, Wycliffe Gordon, Alan Ferber, John Daversa, Donny McCaslin, and Terell Stafford, among others. Notable performances include appearances at the Monterey Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, and the 2014 California All-State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in Fresno as the conference’s featured jazz group.