Guest Artists 2017

Ray Brown & Sacramento State

Ray BrownRay Brown

Composer, arranger, now vibraphonist, and teacher Ray Brown (B.M., Ithaca College, M.S., Long Island University) has worked as Jazz trumpet player and arranger for the orchestras of Stan Kenton, Bill Watrous, Bill Berry, Frankie Kapp-Nat Pierce, and the Full Faith and Credit Big Band. While in the Kenton band, he and Willie Maiden presented all the improvisation clinics given by the band. During that stay, he recorded four albums, all on Creative World Records.

Ray and his brother Steve have authored “An Introduction To Jazz Improvisation,” an elementary improvisation method and CD. Mr. Brown has been a recipient of both compositional and performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, an improvisation teaching grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, was on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival, and has performed improvisation clinics at various International Association of Jazz Educators Conventions and California Music Teachers Conventions. He has also appeared as guest soloist and improvisation clinician at high schools and colleges throughout the United States and Europe.

In addition to his improvisation credits, Mr. Brown also is a composer, having written more than fifty original Jazz compositions for Jazz ensemble. He has also written and arranged for the Stan Kenton Band, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Bill Watrous Band, Full Faith and Credit, and his own big band, the Great Big Band. Ray’s book of over 150 arrangements and compositions is one of the most contemporary and audience friendly of any book in the country.

Ray Brown has recorded three CDs with the Full Faith and Credit big band from San Francisco entitled “Debut”, Jazz-Faire”, and “F.F. and C. III, on which he conducted, played, composed, and arranged most of the material. He also appears on guitarist Steve Brown’s CD, “Child’s Play.” Some of his playing credits include performances with Mundell Lowe, Leroy Vinegar, Ray Brown (bass), Thad Jones, Jimmy Heath, Steve Gadd and Billy Hart. His music has been played and recorded by the Count Basie Band under Thad Jones. He served as a Senior Fulbright Professor for six months at the University of Mainz, in Mainz, Germany. He also performed big band workshops at the Hochschule in Koln, Germany, and at the Hilversum Conservatory in Holland. He has returned to Germany four times since then as a guest conductor and clinician. Ray conducted the recording session of the Roy Hargrove Quintet entitled “Roy Hargrove with Strings, Moment to Moment,” released in May 2000 on Verve and conducted Hargrove’s appearance with strings at the 2001 Monterey Jazz Festival. Since that time he has appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival frequently as conductor of his wife Sue Brown’s Monterey Jazz Festival Chamber Orchestra in collaboration with Charlie Haden, Kenny Barron, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Ralph Towner and Gary Burton.

Ray Brown now leads his own big band, the Great Big Band, which has appeared to SRO audiences at the Monterey, San Jose, and Santa Cruz Jazz Festivals, the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, and various clubs in the San Francisco Bay area. The band has appeared annually on Santa Cruz’s well known Kuumbwa Jazz Center’s Monday night series for twenty-seven years, finally having to move across town to Cabrillo College’s theater to accommodate over five hundred people. The band’s CDs, “Impressions of Point Lobos” and “Kayak”,consisting entirely of Ray’s writing, have received critical acclaim.

Ray has performed over 200 Jazz improvisation clinics over the past 40 years including three at IAJE conventions, CMEA conventions and numerous Jazz Festivals. He has also guest conducted numerous all-county Jazz ensembles throughout California, including the Contra Costa all-star Jazz band and the Central Coast Jazz Ensemble. In April, 2006, Ray performed as guest soloist and composer/arranger with the California State University East Bay Jazz Ensemble in a special concert consisting entirely of his own music.

In late 2006, Ray’s Great Big Band performed to a standing room only house at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay and the next day performed for the sixteenth consecutive year to a sellout house at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz.

In January, 2007, Ray was commissioned to write an arrangement for the Monterey Youth Symphony and the Monterey County all-star Jazz big band, the combined group for which rehearsed and conducted the performance. In the fall of 2007, he conducted the Monterey Jazz Festival Chamber Orchestra in a performance of a composition by Terence Blanchard, “Requiem for Katrina”, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Festival. Ray has presented Jazz improvisation clinics at the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival for over 25 years.

For the past 5 years, Ray has been performing concerts, clinics, and guest soloist appearances at colleges and high schools throughout the U.S. Most recently he has been performing engagements ( 3 or 4 tunes, one set, or an entire concert) where he brings his own compositions and arrangements , rehearses and conducts the band, presents a clinic, and performs as guest soloist on vibraphone. Recent performances have been at Tacoma Community College In Washington, Santa Barbara City College, and West Valley College in Santa Clara. In December 2016, Ray and his good friend pianist Eddie Mendenhall started a vibraphone and piano duo called “Tuo”, which has now started performing in the Bay Area.

Ray Brown currently teaches Jazz Theory and Jazz Improvisation at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. He is available for clinics, guest conducting, and guest soloist appearances through the Cabrillo College Music Department at 831-479-6312.



vocaljazz_16The Sac State vocal jazz program consists of C-Sus Voices, Sac State Jazz Singers and Vox Now, all of which are formed by audition and are under the direction of Gaw Vang Williams.  The ensembles tour, perform at jazz festivals, and records annually. The sounds of Sac State vocal jazz groups are influenced by the great vocal jazz groups of the past and present: The Hi-Lo’s, Singers Unlimited, Take 6, New York Voices, The Real Group, Manhattan Transfer and others. Additionally, the program strives to explore new, innovative approaches to contemporary vocal jazz and features student compositions and arrangements.

C-Sus Voices was awarded 2016 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards for Outstanding College Jazz Vocalist and Best Vocal Jazz Ensemble.  The Sac State School of Music vocal jazz program has been awarded 19 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards.  C-Sus Voices recently took first place in the collegiate vocal jazz division of the 2016 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival and was invited to perform at the 54th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival September 2016.


Guest Artists from Past Festivals

Many more instrumental and vocal artists have performed in the past 30 years and we thank them all.