SOURCE: San Francisco State University International Center for the Arts

October 31, 2007 20:12 ET

San Francisco State's International Center for the Arts Debuts "Generations" Fellowship and International Competition for Emerging Jazz Combos

Unique Post-Graduate Fellowship for Jazz Musicians; Fellows to Receive Pre-Professional Training Through Collaboration With Established Jazz Artists

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - October 31, 2007) - The International Center for the Arts at San Francisco State University today announced "Generations," a unique post-graduate Fellowship and International Competition for already-formed combos of aspiring musicians to receive advanced pre-professional training and career preparation from distinguished jazz artists, invaluable performance opportunities, alone and in collaboration with their mentors. This opportunity for an established jazz combo of exceptional promise to obtain a year-long fellowship at San Francisco State University is the only one of its kind in the world. Kicking off in Fall 2007, the one-year fellowship is supported by a company of master jazz musicians including saxophonist Eric Alexander, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, percussionist Jimmy Cobb, bassist Ray Drummond, pianist Ronnie Matthews and the program's artistic director, saxophonist Andrew Speight.

Young combos from around the world comprised of three to seven outstanding jazz musicians will compete for the opportunity to become Generations fellows. Members of the selected groups will be accomplished jazz musicians who demonstrate an exceptional level of artistic accomplishment, cohesive ensemble and the potential to benefit from a Generations fellowship experience. Finalist combos will be invited to San Francisco State University in May 2008 for a mini-residency with the Generations mentors, which will culminate with a public performance by all finalists and the selection of one combo to return to San Francisco in Fall 2008 for the beginning of the first one-year fellowship residency.

"Our goal is to act as both an incubator and springboard for the winning combo," said Jeffrey Babcock, executive director of the International Center for the Arts. "These musicians will have an unprecedented opportunity to take their performance to the next level, individually and as a combo while preparing to launch successful careers."

The competition gives high performance combos an unmatched opportunity to showcase their artistry, as well as interact with and learn from musical encounters with other talented ensembles under the guidance of renowned jazz artists. Collaborating with Generations mentors in a variety of venues will contribute in a significant way to the artistic and professional development of each individual musician and ensemble.

"We are creating an environment where young musicians will go beyond the walls of the classroom and learn through hands-on mentoring, group collaboration and professional advice," said Andrew Speight, Generations' artistic director and mentor. "We hope to bring growing artists a greater awareness of possibilities for spontaneous expression when working in a group, and nowhere are the tenets of real-time group creativity better exhibited than in jazz music."

The timeline for the Generations International Competition follows:

--  Mid-November 2007: Guidelines and applications available to combos
    whose members are less than 30 years old as of May 1, 2007 and whose
    personnel has been stable for at least twelve months.
--  March 14, 2008: Final date for receipt of applications.
--  April 4, 2008: Finalist combos announced
--  Week of May 12: Finalist combos in San Francisco for mini-residency
    with Generations' mentors.
--  Saturday, May 17: Finalist combos perform; fellowship combo announced.
--  Fall 2008: Winning combo arrives at San Francisco State University to
    begin fellowship residency with Generations mentors.

Combos interested in applying for the first Generations International Competition may request application information beginning November 12, 2007. Early request for guidelines and applications may be emailed to with Generations Competition in the subject line.

About the Mentor Ensemble

The Generations Mentor Ensemble is an all-star group of professional musicians who have experience shaping the legacy of jazz. Together the group's legacy goes back more than 60 years and spans three of the most creative, vibrant and influential generations of contemporary jazz. Members of the ensemble have been integral to the sounds of Miles Davis, Dinah Washington, Nat and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, McCoy Tyner, Ray Charles, Benny Carter and the Marsalis Family, among others.

Generations' mentors were selected because they learned their art through playing with a group of like-minded musicians who nurtured and explored through collaboration. This vital part of jazz musicianship is what the Generations fellowship strives to provide its up-and-coming ensembles. Believing that the jazz tradition of inspired collaboration is learned through study and practice with a group, these mentors will lay a musical foundation through community.

"These three generations of mentors spanning the 1940s to today have played with the best groups and honed their art with the jazz community's greats," said Speight. "This is an opportunity unlike any other for a young ensemble to play with musicians who learned by collaborating with giants and are willing to pass along their wisdom. I can't wait to hear what comes out of this first group of Generations musicians."

The talented and experienced mentor group includes:

--  Eric Alexander, a tough-toned tenor saxophonist known for his
    sophisticated hard and post-Bop style. He has performed and recorded with
    many leading artists, including Harold Maburn, Ron Carter, Horace Silver
    and Nicholas Payton.
--  Marcus Belgrave, a trumpeter and vocalist whose career spans five
    decades of jazz styles. He has performed and recorded with many leading
    artists, including Ray Charles, Charles Mingus, Wynton Marsalis and the
    Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
--  Jimmy Cobb, an exciting and powerful drummer who has been the
    foundation of many of the greatest jazz combos and recordings. He has
    performed and recorded with many leading artists, including Miles Davis,
    Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Wynton Kelly and John Coltrane.
--  Ray Drummond, a buoyant and percussive bassist who has been the
    heartbeat of many great jazz ensembles.  He has performed and recorded with
    many leading artists, including Johnny Griffin, Billy Hart, David Sanchez
    and Stephen Scott.
--  Ronnie Matthews, a virtuosic and sensitive piano stylist who has been
    an inspiration for many important artists.  He has performed and recorded
    with many leading artists including Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter
    Gordon and Freddie Hubbard.
--  Andrew Speight, a clear-toned hard driving alto saxophonist known for
    his incendiary bebop lines.  He has performed and recorded with many
    leading artists, including Benny Carter, Nat Adderley, Ellis and Branford

About the International Center for the Arts

The International Center for the Arts is an interdisciplinary creative, research and producing organization focused on the future of the arts in a global society. Founded in 2005 with a generous gift from San Francisco State University alumni George and Judy Marcus, the International Center for the Arts has presented acclaimed artists and their work in exhibitions, DOC Film Institute film screenings and festivals, performances and related programs on the San Francisco State campus, in prominent locations throughout San Francisco, and in partnership with leading cultural institutions in the United States, Europe and Asia.

This fall, the International Center for the Arts launches a series of career-entry fellowships for gifted post-graduate artists who are selected through annual international competitions. Fellows receive financial support, explore new creative territory and pursue career goals under the guidance of distinguished artist-mentors.

The International Center for the Arts pursues cross-disciplinary initiatives that connect campus participants with creative, cultural, entrepreneurial, academic, and community-based partners in the arts, humanities, sciences, education and technology, in the Bay Area and abroad. For more information, please visit

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