Over 20 students will attend the Monterey Jazz Festival Sept. 19-21 with band teacher Bob Ratcliff and orchestra teacher Felecia Keys.
The music groups have been making the trip to Monterey for the past several years, according to Ratcliff.
It all started when parent Chuck Hansen—a representative for the Monterey Jazz Festival at the time and a saxophone player—offered Elena Bennett, lower-school music teacher, and the music department tickets to the festival. After that, Bennett and Ratcliff started talking.
“This would be a great opportunity for the kids in the jazz band,” they said.
So they asked Hansen, father of freshman Sonja and eighth grader Bianca, if they could take the jazz band, too.
Hansen agreed and added that his house overlooking the golf course and ocean in Pebble Beach could accommodate that number. (Ratcliff said that as many as 27 people have stayed there at the same time.)
Ever since then, Ratcliff said, Hansen has donated tickets and opened his house to the music department.
This trip serves as a sort of retreat.
“There’s the bonding side of it,” Ratcliff said. “I want everybody to get together and have a good time.
“Then there’s the side of being exposed to hundreds of world-class jazz musicians in a state-fair type atmosphere.”
For instance, Herbie Hancock, a famous pianist and composer, will perform.
When asked why he’s most looking forward to seeing Hancock perform, Ratcliff responded, “Because it’s Herbie Hancock.”
Hancock has won many prestigious titles, including multiple Grammys and an Oscar.
“He is one of the guys in the pantheon of jazz,” Ratcliff said.
Ratcliff wants students to walk away knowing who some of the “amazing” musicians are.
“I hope they go there and come back and say, “Did you hear this guy?” he said.
In addition, every year, Ratcliff looks forward to running into musicians he knew as a professional musician.
But his favorite thing is to participate in a jam session at a local hotel after the festival closes at midnight.
“Sometimes I’ll bring my instrument there and all the cats (musicians from the festival) will be there, and people will just get up and play.
“And that’s a blast.”