I just came back from one of the most amazing and intense trips I’ve ever done. I was the pianist and co-leader (with alto saxophonist Erena Terakubo) of this year’s Berklee Monterey Sextet. We did a four-concert tour of California that included two gigs at the Monterey Jazz Festival, one of America’s greatest jazz festivals. There was lots of fun jamming from everyone, as the group consisted of some of the top jazz musicians from Berklee: Erena on alto sax, Nick Frenay on trumpet, John Egizi on trombone, Hoo Kim on bass, Anthony Fung on drums, and special guest drummer Ayinde Webb. And we all prepared our own original compositions for the trip.
We started off with a concert in Walnut Creek for 7th and 8th grade music students. There were about 400 kids there, all of them “tweens.” So by the end of the concert, it felt like we were in Justin Bieber’s band, as all of the kids posed for photos and high-fives with us.
Then we went to a house in Alamo to play at a very special house party on the top of a hill. The people were nothing short of wonderful. They even offered us dinner on the porch, from which we could see several towns. And we made many new friends along the way…
Finally, we played two packed concerts at the Monterey Jazz Festival. The first was on the outdoor Garden Stage, and the second was at the indoor Coffee House Gallery. We played lots of different songs (standards and originals) in different jazz styles. Afterward, we all went to see the shows at the festival, which are top-notch. It’s incredible that so many legends perform at this one festival. We saw Tony Bennett, Pat Metheny, Christian McBride, Jack DeJohnette, Christian Scott, and Mulgrew Miller, among others.
The next day, we had a 5:35 AM flight to Los Angeles and then to Boston. So it was an intense day, and I’m still doing lots of catch-up. But I’m still excited from all the amazing things we did. It was truly an honor, and I will remember this trip for the rest of my life.