Los Al High Jazz Bands bring home top awards from Reno Jazz Festival

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Courtesy photo

Every year the Los Alamitos High School Jazz Program sends two of its three big bands and its multiple combos to participate in the Reno Jazz Festival. This year, both Big Bands and one of its three Combos walked away with trophies from this fiercely competitive event. Additionally, tenor saxophonist, Santiago Lopez, was recognized as the most outstanding saxophonist in the festival, and seven of his peers received awards as outstanding soloists.

In its 57th year, the Reno Jazz Festival, held at the University of Nevada, Reno, hosted more than 9000 participants representing 300 school groups during the weekend of April 25-27, all who were competing for top honors.

The screams were deafening when Los Alamitos High School was announced at the awards ceremony on Saturday night as the first-place big band in the AP1 category, the intermediate division for Jazz 2. The excitement could not be calmed when Jazz 1, the high school’s advanced big band, earned the number one spot amongst all Southern California Jazz Bands at the festival in the AAAA category, the highest category for a high school big band. The Monday night Combo A received fourth place in the AAAA High School Combos category.

Several of the students also received individual awards, including Lopez, a sophomore in Jazz 1, who was identified by judges as the most outstanding saxophonist in the festival. Musicians Noah Timney, Will Moon, Ryan Kim, Max Kass, Brennan Murray, Christian Basabro, Max Nguyen and Patrick Cotter also received outstanding soloist awards from the adjudicators of the festival.

Los Alamitos High School has three jazz bands that are under the direction of Justin Padilla. Mr. Padilla became the high school’s jazz and orchestra director in 2016 after having been the instrumental music director at Oak Middle School for 14 years. Under his leadership, the three jazz bands compete in several festivals each year, the most prestigious being the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival. The Next Generation Jazz Festival selects only 12 high schools nationwide from blind auditions to compete in the annual event and Los Al’s Jazz 1 has been invited to participate all three years Mr. Padilla has been the director.

Los Alamitos High School Jazz Bands and Combos love to partner with the community and can often be seen providing wonderful music at local events throughout Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach and Cypress. If you would like Los Al jazz students to perform for your event, please contact Mr. Padilla at jpadilla@losal.org.

Los Al Jazz can be heard next at their year-end concert on May 22, at 7 p.m. in the school’s Performing Arts Center.