“In jazz, timing is critical, and the Berkeley High jazz program has long demonstrated a gift for landing on just the right beat. When Fourth Street merchants decided to end its annual Jazz on Fourth event, a cornerstone of the jazz program’s annual fundraising efforts, the Berkeley Music Group’s newly opened The UC Theatre stepped into the breach. On Friday, the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble plays an opening set at the UC Theatre for the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, which shocked the Latin music scene in 2014 by winning the Grammy Award for Best Latin Tropical Album.
“The Fourth Street merchants felt like shutting down the street was too disruptive,” said trombonist Sarah Cline, who’s finishing her fifth year as director of Berkeley High’s jazz program. “We so grateful for their support. They did Jazz on Fourth for 20 years, raised more than $200,000 over that time, and they’re still supporting us. Abrams/Millikan is one of the corporate sponsors of the UC Theatre concert, and we’re looking for more.”
In addition to raising crucial funds for the program, Friday’s concert provides an opportunity to bid farewell to a particularly strong iteration of the Jazz Ensemble, which features graduating seniors such as bass trombonist Andrea Levinson, who’s heading off to Loyola University in New Orleans, lead altoist Demani McNeil, who’s attending Oberlin Conservatory in the fall, Manhattan School of Music-bound trombonist Remee Ashley, and pianist Ethan Ostrow, who’ll be pursuing his passion for jazz and musical theater at the University of Minnesota.“