The jazz program at the West Milford Township School District was established by Mr. Gramata in 2010 and has flourished over the past eight years. Consisting of two jazz bands, jazz is very accessible to any student that is interested in participating. Currently, approximately fifty students are enrolled in the high school jazz program. West Milford High School offers two jazz bands: The Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Band. All bands are created through an audition process that encourages participation regardless of experience in the genre. Jazz Ensemble auditions take place in November and the ensembles begin to rehearse following the conclusion of the marching band season. With a comprehensive study of styles and history, all bands have the opportunity to participate in festivals, concerts and the creation of combos. Recent highlights of the West Milford Jazz Ensemble include six New Jersey State Finals appearances in seven years of existence; including 2nd place finishes at the NJAJE State Jazz Finals in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. In February of 2017, the West Milford Jazz Ensemble participated for the first time, and was awarded 1st place at the prestigious Berklee Jazz Festival in Boston, Massachusetts, which is arguably the largest jazz festival in the country. The Jazz Ensemble was also selected to perform at the National Association for Music Education All-Eastern Convention in Atlantic City, NJ
2019 NJ State Prelims
The jazz ensemble earned the only GOLD rating on the first night of the NJ State Jazz Prelims held at West Orange H.S. The ensemble also won Best Trombone Section. Amanda Roth was named an outstanding soloist with Shane Duffy receiving an honorable mention.
jazz ensemble to perform at Njmea convention
The West Milford Jazz Ensemble was selected to perform at the 2018 NJMEA Convention in East Brunswick, NJ. They will be the only high school jazz ensemble featured at the conference. The NJMEA Convention is a three day professional development conference for music educators from the state of New Jersey
In addition, Peter Suckiel & Eric Darnsteadt were awarded Outstanding Musicianship Awards in Large Ensemble Class 2!
West Milford Places 2nd at the
2018 BERKLEE JAZZ FESTIVAL!
West Milford Wins
2017 BERKLEE JAZZ FESTIVAL!
In their first ever trip to the prestigious Berklee Jazz Festival in Boston, the West Milford Jazz Ensemble took 1st place in Large Ensemble Class II! Arguably the biggest jazz festival in the country, the Berklee Jazz Festival hosts over 150 performing groups from the United States and worldwide.
It is a great honor to be selected as a performing ensemble at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference. This division is made up of 13 states and our jazz ensemble was one of 2 high school jazz groups to be selected to perform. They will perform on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 3PM in Atlantic City, NJ.
WM Jazz Ensemble Selected to Perform at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference in Atlantic City
For the fifth year in a row, the West Milford High School Jazz Ensemble was awarded 2nd place at the New Jersey Association for Jazz Education State Finals in West Milford, New Jersey. Amanda Roth was awarded the Richard A. Graham Scholarship award.
Jazz Ensemble 2nd Place at State Finals
West Milford Jazz Ensemble performing at Trumpets Jazz Club with special guest JALEEL SHAW
On March 27, 2019 the West Milford Jazz Ensemble will be performing at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, New Jersey. The band will be opening for the "One More Once" Big Band, an ensemble comprised of professional musicians from the tri-state area. Saxophonist Jaleel Shaw will be the special guest soloist with the West Milford and One More Once bands. This is a fantastic opportunity for the students to perform with a renowned soloist and get to see a professional ensemble. Tickets can be reserved ONLY with Mr. Gramata (Adults: $15, Students/Seniors: $10)
West Milford Middle School Jazz Festival
April 23, 2020!!!
The West Milford Jazz Program will be hosting its third Middle School Jazz Festival on Thursday April 23, 2020. The festival will feature middle school jazz ensembles from West Milford, Mt. Olive, Vernon, Wayne, and more. The festival will conclude with a performance from the West Milford High School Jazz Ensemble. The festival will begin at 5:00 PM and admission is $5 at the door.
West Milford HS Auditorium
67 Highlander Drive
West Milford, NJ 07480
West Milford High School Jazz Festival
April 30, 2020!!!!
The West Milford High School Jazz Festival has become one of the premier high school jazz festivals in North Jersey. Some of the finest local ensembles from the North Jersey area will be performing. The festival will feature the West Milford Jazz Ensemble. The festival will begin at 4:30 PM and admission is $10 at the door.
West Milford HS Auditorium
67 Highlander Drive
West Milford, NJ 07480
March 2, 2020 - NJ State Jazz Prelims
March 31. 2020 - Sparta High School Jazz Festival
April 23, 2020 - West Milford Middle School Jazz Festival
April 25, 2020 - NJ State Finals (TBD), Burlington City, NJ
April 30, 2020 - West Milford High School Jazz Festival
May 18, 2020 - MS/HS Jazz Concert (both ensembles)
2018-19 Schedule To Be Announced
Rehearsals are Mondays & Wednesdays
Alto & Soprano saxophonist and bandleader, Jaleel Shaw, won the 2014 Downbeat Critics Poll's for Rising Star Alto Saxophonist. He is a longtime member of the Roy Haynes Quartet, Tom Harrell’s “Colors Of A Dream” and has performed with Christian McBride, Jason Moran, the Mingus Big Band, Pat Metheny, Stefon Harris, Roy Hargrove, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jimmy Cobb and several others.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Shaw picked up the alto saxophone and surrounded himself with music at an early age. Immersing himself in the local jazz scene, he studied and performed with many of the city's great musicians and educators and, following high school, received a full-tuition scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he received a dual degree in Music Education and Performance. While at Berklee, Shaw was awarded the Billboard Endowed Scholarship for Outstanding Academic and Musical achievement (1998), Woodwind Department Chair Awards (1998 & 2000), The Boston Jazz Society Award (1999) and The Outstanding Student Teacher Award (2000). He later received a scholarship to Manhattan School of Music in New York, where he obtained a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance.
Shaw's debut album, Perspective (2005), received rave reviews from The New York Times and Jazzwise Magazine and All About Jazz named the album one of the top five debut albums of 2005; his composition “The Heavyweight Champion” received an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award.
In 2006, Jaleel joined the Roy Haynes Quartet and was featured on the legendary drummer’s Grammy-nominated album Whereas. Two years later (2008), Shaw founded his record label, Changu Records, on which he released his second album entitled Optimism. The album received reviews from The New York Times, Downbeat and All About Jazz among others. That same year, he received his second ASCAP Young Composer Award for his composition “The Flipside” and was nominated for the Jazz Journalist Association’s “Up-And-Coming Jazz Artist” award.
Shaw was among the musicians listed in the 2011 JazzTimes Magazine’s Readers Poll for Alto Saxophonist of the Year, sharing the honor with Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Bunky Green and Kenny Garrett. In 2013, he released his third album of original compositions entitled The Soundtrack of Things to Come (Changu Records). The album features his current working quartet, and has been favorably received by various publications including the New York Times, New York City Jazz Record, and All About Jazz.