Concord High Jazz Ensemble takes historic first place

Concord High Jazz Ensemble takes historic first place at prestigious Folsom Jazz Festival

Concord High Jazz Ensemble takes historic first place
Photo courtesy Concord High School Music.

CONCORD, CA (Feb. 23, 2024) — Concord High has competed at the prestigious Folsom Jazz Festival many times in the 35 years of the largest high school jazz festival in California.

The local school has generally “finished in the middle of the pack” according to Martin Lejano, director of the school’s instrumental music program. Last year Concord took eighth and then last month, competing in the largest division of 15 bands, Concord placed an historic first.

Lejano said, “In my first year at Concord, out of 62 bands, we got 60th, so we’ve definitely been up and down throughout history.” He added the judges “were astounded at how tight the group was, but more so how much fun they had on stage and how they supported each other in the spirit of this music.”

As if first place wasn’t enough, it was announced at the end of the awards that Concord earned the honor of performing at Festival Finals, an encore performance only given to the top five bands out of all 53 in the competition.
The director added, “The kids were ecstatic in disbelief, played their hearts out amongst the top jazz bands in the whole state and got home at 1 a.m.

“They just did something never before done in the history of this school, and established Concord as one of the top five high school jazz programs in California. I’m over the moon by what our students at Concord High are achieving. Unreal.”

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.