Established in 2001, the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars program brings together the finest young Bay Area jazz musicians— annually selected by audition—to perform, record, compose and participate in national festivals and competitions, and receive mentoring from world-class artists such as the SFJAZZ Collective.
Auditions for the 2014-2015 season are now closed
Audition sign ups for the 2015-16 season will open May 1st, 2015. Thank you for your interest!
What to Expect at the Auditions
You will be given 10 minutes, though most auditions do not take that long. Judges will be evaluating you based on technique, musicality and familiarity with the jazz language, improvisation and sight-reading ability.
Musicians on all instruments will audition unaccompanied. Guitar and bass amps will be provided, along with a drum kit with cymbals (you do not need to bring your own).
Prepare a jazz standard and blues head of your choice. Be prepared to improvise on both pieces. Doublers are encouraged to audition on multiple instruments.
- Lead Trumpet Players: Please inform the audition staff if you are auditioning for the lead trumpet chair. You will be asked to play one or two phrases in the extended range.
- Trombone Players: Please inform the audition staff if you are auditioning as bass trombonist.
Prepare a standard and blues of your choice. Be prepared to play the melody, improvise, and comp through the chord changes. Sight-reading will include melody and chord changes.
Prepare a standard and blues of your choice. Have the melody prepared for the blues. If comfortable, the melody can be prepared for the standard as well. In addition, we will hear you walk bass lines through both forms, and improvise, as well as demonstrate (separately) playing a Latin-style or straight-eighth figure. Sight-reading will include chord progressions and notated rhythmic figures.
Be prepared to play examples of the following feels: swing at different tempos (medium, very fast, and ballad), Latin, bossa, and funk. Sight-reading will include typical big band charts and a 32-bar standard and/or blues form. Please bring brushes. All drummers will play on the same drum and cymbal set up.
Prepare a standard and blues. You may sing with a backing track on a CD or mp3 player; please inform us of your technological needs ahead of time. Vocalists are not required to take a solo chorus, but are encouraged to do so if they feel comfortable (if you are auditioning for the combo you are required to solo). You will be asked to sing one or all of the following: chromatic scale, major scale, harmonic minor scale, mixolydian scale (major scale with lowered 7th degree).
The All-Stars Combo is a training and performance workshop throughout the year with an emphasis on arranging. Students interested in the combo program must demonstrate proficient improvisational ability, as well as an interest in learning the craft of arranging. Combos will meet weekly (separately from the big band) and require time commitment for at-home arranging, rehearsal and performances.
Frequently Asked Questions from potential participants:
Q:How do I know if I’m ready to audition for the All-Stars?
A: Most SFJAZZ High School All-Stars have 5-7 years of experience with their instrument, and at least 3 years experience playing jazz. Many of our members have also participated in Bay Area honors bands.
Q: When does the band rehearse?
A: The Jazz Orchestra (AKA Big Band) will rehearse from 5:45 to 7:45 pm on Tuesday nights. The Combo will rehearse after, from 8 to 9:30 pm on Tuesdays.
Q: Where is rehearsal?
A: Both bands rehearse in the Joe Henderson Lab at the SFJAZZ Center. The space is easily accessible by MUNI and BART. Street parking is available however very limited.
Q: Are scholarships available?
A: Yes. Needs-based scholarships are available by emailing SFJAZZ Education at email@example.com.
Q: Does the band travel?
A: Yes. We aim to travel to at least one out-of-state (or international) festival per year. In previous years the band has been to Boston, New Orleans and New York City. We raise funds to cover most or all of the travel costs in these cases. Both the Orchestra and the Combo also aim to travel to local jazz festivals such as Monterey and Healdsburg.
Q: What is an “alternate”?
A: An “alternate” is someone who is not a regular member of the band but will be called upon to sub for a band member at rehearsals or performances. Benefits include free concert tickets to select SFJAZZ shows, invitations to clinics and workshops, and a standing invitation to come observe and hang at rehearsals.