Alan Benzie Quartet, Berklee Admissions Hit Next Generation Jazz Fest

By 
Rob Hayes
March 16, 2011
Drummer Jun Young Song, bassist Dylan Coleman, pianist Alan Benzie, and trumpeter Aaron Bahr.
Photo provided by the artist

The Alan Benzie Quartet will perform as part of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Festival, April 1–3, at the Monterey Conference Center, in downtown Monterey, California. The group, led by former BBC Scotland Young Jazz Artist of the Year Alan Benzie and featuring acclaimed Lafayette, California trumpeter Aaron Bahr, will perform four times during the festival.

The performances will follow a Thursday, March 31 engagement by the Alan Benzie Quartet at the Savanna Jazz Club, 2937 Mission Street in San Francisco, where the group will alternate sets with the band of guitarist (and Berklee alumnus) Pascal Bokar. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., and cover is just $5.

On Saturday and Sunday, Berklee professors will be auditioning applicants to the college for the prestigious, full-tuition Jimmy Lyons Scholarship to Berklee, named for the Monterey Jazz Festival's late founder. The Berklee faculty will be auditioning students for other, sizable scholarships as well. Benzie trumpeter Aaron Bahr is himself a previous recipient of the Lyons Scholarship.

On Friday, April 1, the Alan Benzie Quartet will perform as part of the festival's welcome concert, at 7:30 pm in the Conference Center's Serra Ballroom. On Saturday, April 2, at 2:00 pm, also in the Serra Ballroom, the group will give a performance clinic for the assembled high school musicians, devoted to the subject of highly tuned group interaction, entitled Music: The Whole ExperienceAlso on Saturday: at 5:00 p.m. the group performs at Gilbert's Seafood Grill, 30 Fisherman's Wharf, and from 10:00 pm to midnight the group is back in the conference center's Serra Ballroom to anchor the popular student jam session, supporting and providing pointers to the assembled high school musicians.

The Alan Benzie Quartet is composed of four top scholarship students from Berklee.

Described early on by leading U.K. jazz critic John Fordham as "a very bright prospect," pianist/composer Alan Benzie is one of the U.K.'s most exciting young talents. Named BBC Scotland Young Jazz Musician of the Year at just 17, he moved to Boston to attend Berklee, where he has won several high-profile awards, most recently the prestigious 2010/2011 Billboard Magazine Endowed Scholarship. Benzie's combination of percussive virtuosity and flowing lyricism has earned him widespread critical praise, and he has toured in the last year in France, Hungary, Poland, and the U.K., as well as appearing at the London Jazz Festival. He has performed and/or recorded with artists such as Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Joe Locke, and Valery Ponomarev, and has studied with JoAnne Brackeen, Laszlo Gardony, Joe Lovano, and Hal Crook.

Trumpeter and composer Aaron Bahr first came to Berklee in 2008 as the Monterey Jazz Festival's 12th Jimmy Lyons Scholar; recipient of a full scholarship presented each year to one student living in the Western U.S. Before beginning at Berklee he was selected for national and regional honors, including the Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Jazz Ensemble, the Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony, and the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. Bahr has had the pleasure of studying and/or performing with such musicians as Maria Schneider, Ron Carter, Mulgrew Miller, Tiger Okoshi, and Greg Hopkins. He is dedicated to creating music with harmonic and rhythmic interest, without sacrificing beautiful melody.  

Dylan Coleman is a bassist from Townsend, Massachusetts. He studied classical piano at a young age before switching to electric bass to join a local band. After performing in the Massachusetts All-State Jazz Ensemble in high school, he switched to the double bass and attended Berklee, graduating in May 2010. At Berklee, he studied with John Lockwood, Bruno Raberg, and Oscar Stagnaro, and also won the Norm Nathan Award for Outstanding Musicianship. The love of music and the arts has inspired Coleman to work in a variety of settings, from completely improvised to through-composed, and with dancers, filmmakers, and spoken word. He has had the opportunity to perform throughout his native New England and has toured extensively throughout Europe, where he plans to move to continue his studies.

Jun Young Song is a drummer from Seoul, Korea. From early childhood, he was exposed to his father's classical music collection, and he started studying classical piano at age five. He switched his principal instrument to drum set at 17. In 2003, Jun began his mandatory two years in the Korean military and joined the Army Band as a percussionist, performing at events like the Jeju International Brass Festival and the Wonju Tattoo. At Berklee, he has studied with Darren Barrett, Terri Lyne Carrington, Hal Crook, Ian Froman, Jamey Haddad, Dave Samuels, and Dave Santoro. He also received the Tony Lada Award in May of 2008 and, in 2009, the Zildjian Award for outstanding percussionist at Berklee.