Monterey and Boston: September 4, 2007 - The Berklee Monterey Quartet brings four of the legendary Boston music college’s finest current students to the Monterey Jazz Festival for two sets — Friday at 8:00 on the Garden Stage, and Saturday at 5:00 in the Coffeehouse Gallery -- that promise surprising new compositions, fluid interplay, and youthful virtuosity. 2007 Jimmy Lyons Scholarship winner, drummer Jonathan Pinson, a Los Angeles native, will sit in.
The first college to offer an education based on the aesthetic and ethos of jazz, Boston’s Berklee College of Music is proud to bring the eleventh edition of the Berklee Monterey Quartet to perform on the festival grounds. Each fall, the college selects four of Berklee’s finest students to perform at Monterey. This year, the college has chosen two women, two natives of Japan, and two Californians to play the festival as members of this carefully selected unit.
With graduation still ahead, the members of the Quartet are already highly sought after, with dozens of professional credits, major awards, and concerts. Leader Mika Nishimura, from Tokyo, holds the coveted piano chair in the IAJE Sisters in Jazz Quintet, and has been chosen to perform at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center. Mika follows in a long line of great Berklee-trained, Japanese pianists and composers, including Toshiko Akiyoshi, Makoto Ozone, Junko Onishi, Chihiro Yamanaka, and Hiromi, to name only a few.
Bassist and vocalist Katie Thiroux is well known to California, and Monterey, audiences for a remarkable, pre-college career that includes selection to the festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, Gibson/ Baldwin Grammy National Honor Jazz Ensemble, and Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony. Katie is the recipient of the full-ride, Presidential Scholarship to Berklee named for legendary producer, and Berklee trustee, Phil Ramone.
In 2006, Berklee College of Music and the Monterey Jazz Festival celebrated ten years of their partnership, which includes the presentation of the Jimmy Lyons full-tuition scholarship to Berklee, a student intern working with the festival’s production team, and an always highly anticipated performance by the Berklee Monterey Quartet. It’s interesting to note that former members of this student group have gone on to performances and recordings with Terence Blanchard, Roy Haynes, the Mingus Big Band, Prince, John Scofield, Mariah Carey, and Steps Ahead, to name just a few. Two graduates, and former members of the group, trumpeter Christian Scott and drummer Kendrick Scott (not related), are playing the festival this year.
The Berklee Monterey Quartet 2007 - Quick biographies
Mika Nishimura “08, piano and leader
( www.myspace.com/mikanishimura ) Mika has been playing piano and performing since age four. After graduating from the High School of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & Music where she studied classical piano, she received a scholarship from Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, she has received the 2005 Technics Endowed Scholarship and has studied jazz with Joanne Brackeen, Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Hal Crook, Alain Mallet and Frank Carlberg. She was selected for the prestigious IAJE Sisters in Jazz ensemble, and performed with the group at the 2007 IAJE Conference in New York. She also performed at the 12th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center. Currently, she performs professionally as a jazz pianist and has shared the stage with artists such as Joe Lovano, Ingrid Jensen, Miriam Sullivan, Julian Lage and Rick Peckham. Mika has also performed in Siena, Italy, and the Costa Rica Jazz Festival this past summer.
Jeff Miles “08, guitar
( www.myspace.com/jeffmilesmusic) From San Diego, California, Jeff began studying piano at the age of six and picked up guitar at twelve. In 2004 he moved to Boston to attend Berklee on scholarship, majoring in Professional Music with an emphasis in Performance. Now a senior at the school, he is the recipient of the Guitar Department Achievement Award, and has studied with Mick Goodrick, Tim Miller, Dave Santoro, Brett Willmott, Dave Samuels, and Alain Mallet. In addition to his busy performance schedule in Boston, Jeff remains an active member of the San Diego jazz scene.
Ryo Shibata “08, drums
A native of Osaka, Japan, Ryo started playing the piano when he was six years old, but quickly gravitated toward the drums. After he graduated high school, he attended the Koyo Conservatory, Berklee’s International Network partner school in Kobe. While at Koyo, he started his musical career, playing club gigs, and doing a substantial number of professional recording sessions. In 2002, he was awarded the Berklee World Scholarship, and he decided to move to Boston. Since coming to Berklee, where he is a Professional Music major, Ryo has studied and played with George Garzone, Hal Crook, Makoto Ozone, Dave Santoro, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Clarence Penn, among others.
Katie Thiroux “09, bass and voice
Katie Thiroux (www.katiethiroux.com), from Los Angeles, California, is the recipient of the Phil Ramone Presidential Scholarship to Berklee, a rare “full-ride” award. She has just completed her first year at the college. Katie performed at the 2004 and 2005 IAJE conferences as both a bassist and vocalist. For four years in a row, Thiroux was selected to be a member of the elite Gibson/Baldwin Grammy National Honor Jazz Ensemble. She has also received fellowships to the prestigious Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony, and the Vail Jazz Festival. In 2005 she was awarded the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s “Shelly Manne New Talent Award” and also received the Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards for Outstanding Vocal Performance, and Outstanding Bassist, in 2006.