Mario Castro Quintet at the Newport Jazz Festival

Rob Hayes
August 1, 2011
From left: Mario Castro, David Neves, Tamir Shmerling, KyuMin Shim, and Jonathan Pinson.
Photo provided by the artist

Berklee's Mario Castro Quintet will perform at the 57th annual Newport Jazz Festival, featuring some of the most innovative acts in jazz on four stages over three days. Castro's band, composed of five of Berklee's finest musicians, has been a regular fixture at Wally's Café, the legendary Boston club where many of the best young jazz players have cut their teeth.

The Newport Jazz Festival takes place August 5–7. The Mario Castro Quintet will perform on Sunday, August 7, at 11:15 a.m. on the festival's Harbor Stage, at Fort Adams State Park, Harrison Avenue, in Newport, Rhode Island. For tickets and information, visit

The quintet's performance will be heard later that day on, as part of NPR's series of live recordings captured at Newport this year.

The Mario Castro Quintet joins a festival lineup filled with Berklee alumni, among them Dan Brubeck, Avishai and Anat Cohen, Henry Cole, Al Di Meola, Hans Glawischnig, Hiromi, Grace Kelly, Guillermo Klein, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Matt Penman, Walter Smith III, Esperanza Spalding, and Miguel Zenón.

Hailed by the New York Times as "the festival that put jazz festivals on the map," the Newport Jazz Festival was founded by jazz pianist George Wein in 1954 as the first outdoor music festival of its kind devoted entirely to jazz. Referred to as "a mecca of jazz," the event draws thousands of people from all over the world to its uniquely picturesque outdoor stages at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Fort Adams State Park.

Mario Castro Quintet

Mario Castro: From Humacao, Puerto Rico, saxophonist Mario Castro began his musical studies at the age of 12 and later became interested primarily in jazz. In 2004 he performed in the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival with the Berklee in Puerto Rico Big Band, and his performance brought him to Berklee. He has performed with a great variety of artists and groups, such as the Puerto Rico Philharmonic Orchestra, Giovanni Hidalgo, Humberto Ramirez, Mike Clark, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Davíd Sanchez, Paoli Mejias, and many more. Today Castro leads his quintet and attends Berklee full time.

David Neves: Born in 1989, trumpeter David Neves is the winner of the 2010 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Competition. He has just completed his studies at Berklee College of Music and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, where he's had the pleasure of studying with some of his favorite jazz musicians, including Danilo Pérez, Joe Lovano, Ben Street, John Patitucci, Tiger Okoshi, and Hal Crook, to name a few.  

Jonathan Pinson: Jonathan Pinson's dynamic and explosive percussion sound has been described as that of a "young Elvin Jones." His formal music training began at the age of six with instruction on the piano. He transitioned to the drum set in 1999 with instruction by Jerry Kalaf at Los Angeles's Colburn School of Performing Arts until 2007.  He's been fortunate to have the opportunity to study with the late, great Billy Higgins at the World Stage in Los Angeles, California. Pinson came to Berklee on the full-tuition Jimmy Lyons Scholarship, awarded at the Monterey Jazz Festival and named after the festival's founder. 

Tamir Shmerling: A double and electric bass player from Israel, Tamir Shmerling completed his mandatory national service as a bass player for the Israeli Defense Forces Orchestra from 2005 to 2008, performing with the orchestra around Israel, Europe, and the U.S. He held the bass chair in both the Tel Aviv and Holon big bands, directed by Amikam Kimelman and Guri Agmon, respectively, and in the Israeli Idol TV show band. Prior to coming to Berklee, Shmerling studied at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music on a scholarship and was a student of Eli Magen from 2008 to 2009.

KyuMin Shim: Born in Seoul, Korea in 1984, KyuMin Shim began to play the piano at age five. He began with a focus on classical music, but soon after he started playing the jazz piano and won the performance prize in Jazz Music Competition held by Seoul Institute of the Arts (SITA), one of the best music schools in Korea. A year later, SITA presented him with a full scholarship. Since 2009, he's been studying at Berklee on scholarship, where he works with Joanne Brackeen, Danilo Pérez, and Ed Tomassi, to name a few.