Nobody said being a jazz musician was easy, but local trumpeter Kevin Early is off to an auspicious start. For the second year in a row, the 17-year-old has been selected to the prestigious Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble selected by the Monterey Jazz Festival that brings together the country’s best high school jazz talent.
Last year, the band traveled to Paris, but Early describes that trip as more about “fun” than about having chances to play. Not so with this year’s itinerary: first to Boston’s Berklee College of Music to begin rehearsals and cut a CD, then on to the famous North Sea Jazz Festival, July 11-13 in the Netherlands. The group’s tour culminates in an appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September, where Early will get to play alongside luminaries such as Maceo Parker (James Brown’s legendary sax man, now leading a jazz orchestra) and the sterling bassist Christian McBride.
Early has been playing trumpet since he was six. A couple of years ago, jazz was just a hobby. Now the phenom is going to have a go at being a professional jazz musician. The Las Vegas Academy senior was good enough to be accepted into the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, but he’ll be attending the more affordable UNLV in the fall.
“It’s kind of unfortunate that jazz has kind of been lost, because Americans created it,” he says. “Now it’s more popular in all countries of the world. But, as far as me, I’m gonna try my best to reach the audiences any way possible.”