Tucson Jazz Institute Ensemble Performs Concert for TWOQC

Calvin Simmers, drums; Scott Black, bass; Mikayla Grijalva, alto sax; Matt Leal, trumpet; David Nguyen, tenor sax; and John Black, piano (photo by Lois Haglund)

Jane Gold

On May 23 in the Madera Ballroom, a student ensemble from the Tucson Jazz Institute (TJI) performed Duke Ellington and Richard Strayhorn compositions for The Women of Quail Creek (TWOQC) members and their guests. The student musicians were Mikayla Grijalva, alto sax; David Nguyen, tenor sax; Matt Leal, trumpet; and Calvin Simmers, drums. These students represented four different high schools and are currently sophomores and juniors. Scott Black, co-founder and combo/improvisation director of the Tucson Jazz Institute, played bass, and John Black, TJI alum, played piano to round out the ensemble.

The Tucson Jazz Institute was established in 2008 to support Tucson area band directors and their programs as well as provide opportunities to middle school and high school students across Southern Arizona to develop skills in instrumental jazz performance. Although based in Tucson, TJI is inclusive of all Tucson area districts and attracts students from as far away as Nogales and Sierra Vista. TJI’s numerous large and small ensemble class instructors work to develop young musicians in various styles and approaches to America’s unique and living art form, jazz.

The TJI ensemble got a standing ovation at the end of the performance. Quail Creek residents can hear these students, plus the rest of the Ellington Big Band Youth Jazz group, this coming fall!