Julius Tolentino

On Top of the World, and the Charts

Saxophonist and educator Julius Tolentino has been a staple of the New York jazz scene for over 20 years. In this capacity, he has played and recorded with numerous small groups and big bands including Louis Haye’s Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band and the Louis Hayes Quartet, Eric Reed’s Sextet, Jeremy Pelt’s Quintet, Natalie Cole, Wycliffe Gordon, Connie Francis, Gloria Gaynor, the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, the Christian McBride Big Band, Cecile Mclorin, Michael Feinstein, Dianne Reeves, Jimmy Heath, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

A graduate of the Hartt School of Music, Julius studied with NEA Jazz Master and alto saxophone legend Jackie McLean, who introduced him to his second musical father, Illinois Jacquet. He has played in top jazz venues and festivals throughout the United States, including Lincoln Center, the Newport Jazz Festival, Tanglewood, the Village Vanguard, Birdland, Blue Note, the Jazz Standard and Dizzy’s Coca Cola. As a leader, his debut album, “Just the Beginning,” on the Sharp Nine label, reached No. 8 on the jazz charts in 2006.

Renowned as a gifted music educator, “Mr. T” has worked with hundreds of students nationwide. He joined Newark Academy in Livingston, New Jersey, as jazz director in 2007, and currently conducts five nationally known student ensembles. He also holds positions at the New Jersey Youth Symphony as director of the NJYS Jazz Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center as a middle school jazz academy director as well as a JALC travelling clinician.

Julius served as New Jersey Association of Jazz Educators Region I president from 2009-2011 and received NJAJE’s Jazz Education Achievement Award in 2018. He was also the director of large ensembles at Montclair-based Jazz House Kids from 2010-2017. His groups have won and been finalists in several national festivals and competitions, including Essentially Ellington (2012-2018), the Charles Mingus Competition (2011-2018) and the Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival. At the state level, Newark Academy has won first place at the NJAJE State Finals for nine years running, from 2010-2018.

Julius is currently serving on the board of the Jazz Education Network and has presented clinics at the JEN Conference as well as the New Jersey Music Educators Association Conference. He has conducted All-State and All-City Jazz Bands for the Massachusetts Music Educators Association, MMEA and the New York State School Music Association, NYSMA. Julius Tolentino has been awarded Best of NJ, category Jazz Musician Inside Jersey/Star Ledger in 2010, the Illinois Jacquet Jazz Educator of the Year award courtesy of the Illinois Jacquet Foundation in 2013, and the NJ Jazz Education Achievement Award by NJAJE in 2018.

For more information about Julius Tolentino, visit jtolemusic.com

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