About AMP Jazz

The American Music Program’s Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra is a nationally recognized leader in educating 7th -12th grade students in American Art Music – Jazz. We are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit (parent organization is the Pacific Crest Sinfonietta) and our tax ID is #20-0459975.

Students in this magnet school program are recruited from culturally diverse backgrounds throughout the Portland, Oregon metropolitan region. The program’s goal is not only to perform the music of American culture (including, but not limited to Ellington, Basie, Coltrane, Armstrong and Davis) but also to imbue its finest qualities in the representative lives of the students, their families and the community.

The Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra regularly competes in – and wins – student competitions across the country, including The Monterey Jazz FestivalEssentially Ellington at Lincoln CenterThe Lionel Hampton Jazz FestivalSwing Central at the Savannah Music Festival, and many more.

American Music Program students leave High School with advanced performance skills and a deep understanding of the jazz art form.  This pre-professional training opens the door to social, cultural and global identification and allows students to experience a more meaningful connection between their lives, community, school and the world.

Because of their rigorous training, American Music Program students often go on to receive scholarships to attend the country’s top music colleges, such as The Juilliard SchoolBerklee College of MusicManhattan School of MusicThe New School for JazzOberlin College Conservatory, and others.



Born and reared in New Orleans, the cradle of jazz, Devin Phillips’ intense affair with the saxophone began at the age of eight. At 14, he was accepted into the prestigious New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, whose alumni include Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr. and Nicholas Payton. There, trained in music theory and multi-styles composition, he graduated in 2000 with top honors. 

Performing, touring and recording with top jazz artists, such as Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Palmieri, The Headhunters, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, musician Lenny Kravitz, and Los Hombres Caliente (with whom he recorded two award-winning albums) soon followed. His reputation as a sax man with intricate and rhythmically innovative sounds made him a popular feature at jazz festivals: France’s Jazz de Vien Festival; Tokyo’s JVC Jazz Festival; Itanbul’s The Ruins; Spain’s Barcelona Jazz Festival; the Netherlands’ North Sea Jazz and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

In 2005, Phillips formed New Orleans Straight Ahead. But in August, Hurricane Katrina muted the music. With all gone, save his sax, and his family scattered throughout the U.S., Phillips evacuated to Portland and reformed New Orleans Straight Ahead with other musician evacuees. Since opening the 2006 Portland Jazz Festival, his signature sound has not only been featured on KMHD-FM jazz radio specials and Northwest festivals, but also in newspaper and magazine articles, as well as online articles. Phillips is one of the headline acts of the 2007 Portland Jazz Festival.

Phillips also heads up a second band with strong connections to the New Orleans party sound. Notably a funk ensemble, the Devin Phillips Band is a five-to-six piece jazz funk group that performs music from Professor Longhair to the Headhunters.

His debut album with New Orleans Straight Ahead “Devin Phillips: Wade in the Water” is now out and available on cdbaby.com. Featuring six originals, four standards and two traditional numbers, the CD, also offers a cool video of the title cut. Notes Tim Duroche of the awarding-winning newspaper Willamette Week, the album “showcases his suave dynamics of musicality, showmanship and swagger – as noted in the tradition of jazz’s cradle as it is caged in frenzied, jazz modernity.”

For more information on Devin, please visit:

YouTube: Video1 | Video2 | Video3

Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra Alumni by class, name and college.

Class of 2016
Quinlan McIntire, saxophone
Frost School of Music at University of Miami, Miami, FL
Steve Montecucco, trumpet
Josh Peltz, piano
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Max Roark, saxophone
Eastman School of Music at University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Sam Seacrist, saxophone

Class of 2015
Shawn Ball, saxophone
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO
Charles Milton Brown III, Piano
Portland State University, Portland, OR
Colescott Rubin, Bass
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
Mattias Tyni, Trumpet
Clark College, Vancouver, WA

Class of 2014
Gil Bolster, Trombone
DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Ciaran Fontenot, Bass
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
Kyle Zimmerman, Saxophone
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA

Class of 2013
Noah Conrad, Trumpet
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
Aaron Reihs, Saxophone
Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Ben Seacrist, Trumpet
The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, New York, NY

Class of 2012
Marty Arrigotti, Guitar
William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ
Stanley Mathabane, Saxophone
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Cary Miga, Bass
Portland State University, Portland, OR
Robin Seitz, Trumpet
William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ

Class of 2011
Kama Bell, Saxophone
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
Austin Casey, Trumpet
Hayden Conrad, Saxophone
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Ian Garner, Trombone
Clark College, Vancouver, WA
Louie Leager, Bass
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Ashton Summers, Trombone
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Class of 2010
Kelly Ryan Campbell, Trombone
United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT
Ted Case, Piano
Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Hannah Dexter, Bass
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Noah Hocker, Trumpet
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Evan Jiroudek, Drums
California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
Andrew Olson, Alto Saxophone
The Juilliard School, New York, NY
Connor O’Shea, Guitar
Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Class of 2009
Jacob French, Guitar
California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
Nicole Glover, Tenor Saxophone
William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ
Elliot Hocker, Guitar
California College of Ayurveda, Grass Valley, CA
Aaron Johnson, Tenor Saxophone
Manhattan School of Music, New York, NY
Alex Milsted, Tenor Saxophone
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
Lahiru Ranasinghe, Alto Saxophone
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Patrick Sargent, Alto Saxophone
New York University, New York, NY
Duncan Standish, Drums
Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
Spencer Stewart, Bass
Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA

Class of 2008
Ian Christensen, Tenor Saxophone
The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, New York, NY
Nick Hamel, Guitar
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Blake Martin, Trumpet
Manhattan School of Music, New York, NY
Javier Nero, Trombone
The Juilliard School, New York, NY
Hailey Niswanger, Alto Saxophone
Berklee College Of Music, Boston, MA

Links to other notable students of Mr. Memory:
Esperanza Spalding, Grammy Award winning bassist/vocalist/composer/educator
Patrick Lamb, Grammy-nominated saxophonist
John Nastos, saxophonist/composer/band leader


What should students know before entering the program?

  1. It takes extreme dedication to play in the orchestra. All of the students take private lessons and practice many hours each day. In addition, students get together on their own time for sectionals and additional practices in addition to the regular orchestra rehearsals. This is a band for students with a burning desire to play jazz at the highest level, and the dedication to do what it takes to get there.
  2. Parent participation is essential, both emotionally and financially. Logistical issues with transportation need to be worked out, and conflicts with other school commitments need to be addressed. Students may have to make difficult decisions in this regard as orchestra members are not allowed to miss more than 2 performances without being reassigned.
  3. The orchestra travels to festivals out of state regularly. There are additional logistics and costs to consider for these opportunities that are the responsibility of each student/family.
  4. There is at least one major fundraiser each year and parent participation is required.
    The payoff is a world class music education, more opportunities for highly competitive festivals and many more college scholarship opportunities. The hard work is well worth it for our musicians.

Why Study American Music?

Why is it that students today can’t name any American composers? If you ask kids “Who is Bessie Smith?” they often don’t know or wonder if that’s the woman who sewed our first flag. The American Music Program is focused on changing that. We have a treasure of American composers of jazz, but few kids know them. These great composers come from a generation that has already died, or soon will. We have a responsibility to keep this music alive – to teach a new generation about this music.

What are the goals of the American Music Program?

The American Music Program is a 501(c)(3) non-profit registered as the Pacific Crest Sinfonietta. Our tax ID# is 20-0459975. Students in the program can expect a first-rate music education. They will receive the highest level of training from many sources and have the opportunity to meet and learn from masters in the music world. Students will learn – and live – the importance of humility, cultural diversity, community responsibility and ethics. Students will receive an individually designed 10-point program plan for college, and will be well positioned to receive college scholarships.

When are rehearsals?

Rehearsals are currently held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at a variety of locations while the group looks for a permanent practice location.