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High School Jazz Competition

The SUNY Schenectady School of Music
High School Jazz Competition

In partnership with “A Place for Jazz”

Open to all students enrolled in high school during the 2022-2023 academic year and home school students completing their high school education in the following counties:

  • Albany
  • Fulton
  • Hamilton
  • Montgomery
  • Rensselaer
  • Saratoga
  • Schenectady
  • Warren
  • Washington

Open to any instrument or voice.

No entry fee.


Grand Prize (1):

Recording session in The Vianna-Brignola Recording Studio at SUNY Schenectady with professional faculty rhythm section (David Gleason – piano, Bobby Kendall – bass, Bob Halek – drums) and audio engineer (Sten Isachsen), guest soloist with SUNY Schenectady Jazz Ensemble on May 3, 2023, and a $1,000 scholarship to attend SUNY Schenectady as a music major.

Runner Up Prizes (2):

Guest soloist with SUNY Schenectady Jazz Ensemble on May 3, 2023, and a $1,000 scholarship to attend SUNY Schenectady as a music major.

How to Enter (Round 1)

  1. Record three separate videos of yourself performing with a backing track (backing tracks can be found online, iRealPro, etc.):
    1. 12 bar blues of your choice – 1 time through the melody, 4 choruses of improvisation, 1 time through the melody (184 bpm or faster)
      *vocalists may scat the melody or sing a vocalise.
    2. Pick one of the following STANDARDS: "There Is No Greater Love," "Autumn Leaves," "Blue Bossa," "All The Things You Are," "There Will Never Be Another You" – 1 time through the melody, 2 choruses of improvisation, 1 time through the melody (112 bpm or faster).
    3. Pick one of the following BALLADS: "Body and Soul," "In A Sentimental Mood," "My Funny Valentine," "My Romance," "You Don’t Know What Love Is" –1 time through the melody, ½ chorus of improvisation, second half of melody (ballad tempo).
  2. Upload each video separately to YouTube as an Unlisted video.
  3. Complete registration form and upload links to three videos.

Important Dates 

  • August 15, 2022
    • Submission of all materials for Round 1
  • September 1, 2022
    • Finalists for Round 2 are announced
  • September 23, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
  • September 24, 2022, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
    • Round 2 with guest judges Geoffrey Keezer & Gillian Margot
    • Finalists will be interviewed and performances filmed
    • Not open to the public                                             
    • Finalists will perform either the STANDARD or BALLAD they submitted for round 1 live on stage accompanied by the SUNY Schenectady jazz faculty rhythm section. Finalists receive 2-hour appointments between 8:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
  • May 3, 2023, 7:30 p.m.     
    • Jazz Ensemble Concert with all three competition winners
    • Free and open to the public

All events will be in the Carl B. Taylor Auditorium at SUNY Schenectady, 78 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY 12305


Geoffrey Keezer

Geoffrey Keezer is a multiple GRAMMY®-nominated pianist who was playing in jazz clubs as a teenager, holding down the piano chair for Art Blakey at age 18, and touring in the company of Ray Brown, Joshua Redman, Diana Krall, Art Farmer, Benny Golson and Barbara Hendricks in his 20s. More recently he has toured with Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Sting, Joe Locke and Christian McBride; and released a series of albums drawing influences from Hawaiian, Okinawan and Afro-Peruvian folk traditions.

Gillian Margot

Gillian Margot is a vocalist equally at home in the musical worlds of jazz, R&B, chamber, and pop, and has been invited to perform with a long list of top-tier talent, including rock icon Sting, famed soprano Kathleen Battle, jazz stars Jeremy Pelt and Chris Botti, and GRAMMY® artists Robert Glasper and Geoffrey Keezer. Additionally, her voice can be heard in commercials, feature films, and television programs.

Dylan Canterbury

Dylan Canterbury is an active performer and teaches Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Improvisation, Jazz Styles and Development and jazz trumpet at SUNY Schenectady.

Kevin Grudecki

Kevin Grudecki performs with jazz, musical theatre and poplar music ensembles and teaches Guitar Ensemble and guitar lessons at SUNY Schenectady.

Made possible by the generous support Ron & Kathy Cooke