pdxJazz 2016 JazzForward Competition
High School Soloist First Place Winners
Saturday, 27 February 2016
Newmark Theater, Portland

Joshua Tazman, vocal soloist first place winner


Alex Yuwen, instrumental soloist first place winner



Joshua Tazman, vocals
Alex Yuwen, saxophone
Justin Nielsen, piano
Dylan Sundstrom, bass
Christopher Brown, drums

Joshua Tazman
The 17-year-old jazz musician and songwriter moves from disjointed, funky grooves to bittersweet ballads with ease, capturing the unsureness and vulnerability of becoming an adult with the insightful sophistication of an old soul. In his original music, he draws from the soulful, elastic vocals and jazz-influenced harmony of Stevie Wonder combined with the insightful, enigmatic jazz-folk of Joni Mitchell, throwing in doses of contemporary crossover music in the vein of Jamie Cullum and Esperanza Spalding to create sophisticated yet accessible songs that appeal to jazz fans and pop audiences alike. He complements his own music with interpretations of jazz standards, showcasing his natural musicianship and horn-like scatting capabilities. Joshua is a vocalist, a pianist and a guitarist, and performs regularly around the Bay Area with his trio.

Alex Yuwen
Alex Yuwen has been playing saxophone for six years. Currently, Alex plays in the Scottsdale Community Jazz Orchestra, an SCC combo, the Nash Legacy Band, and the Hamilton High School jazz band. He has performed with/opened up for many notable jazz musicians, such as Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Lewis Nash, Lee Konitz, Branford Marsalis, Stefon Harris, Edward Simon, Peter Washington, George Colligan, and Ben Wendel. In addition, he has recorded with Alex Sipiagin. Alex recently attended the Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony, as well as performed at the Reno Jazz Festival and Portland Jazz Festival – at both of which, he received accolades for his performance. Currently, Alex is mentored by Eric Rasmussen and Michael Kocour, and he can be seen performing in the greater Phoenix area.

Justin Nielsen
Justin Nielsen is a performer, composer, recording artist, and teacher residing in Boise, Idaho. Though he has lived his life in the mountain west, he has had a dynamic career that has made it possible for him to play and teach all over the world with some of the greatest musicians in the world. He is featured on scores of recordings and is currently featured on 6 albums with release dates set for 2015.

Though Justin loves performing, his greatest passion comes from teaching and inspiring young people to play and to love music. He was a founder of ArtsWest/Fresco Arts Academy, a private school for young performing artists in Eagle, ID, where he worked and taught for 7 years. His students have literally won hundreds of national honors, including recognition from Downbeat magazine, the national Grammy organization, and the Monterey Next Generation competition. His students have also garnered over $5 Million in scholarship offers to the finest music schools in the country including Calarts, Manhattan School of Music, Berklee College of Music, USC, and many many others. In 2015, Justin released his first album as a leader, Divine Colors.

Dylan Sundstrom
Dylan began playing the electric bass at age twelve and studied for six years with North West guitar legend Jho Blenis. Dylan's early influences included Jaco Pastorius, James Jamerson, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten. Dylan expanded to the upright bass in high school and in his junior year was chosen to play in the Tacoma Community College All-City Jazz Band.

After graduation, he was awarded a talent scholarship to Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon to support the nationally recognized "Genesis Vocal Jazz Ensemble". He spent three years there developing his craft. During that time, he also gigged extensively in the Portland area, and was called on for many sessions at the renown recording studio "Kung Fu Bakery".

Dylan has performed with several distinguished artists including Kobie Watkins, Red Holloway, Scott Whitfield, Emily Braden, Louise Rose and Jeff Coffin. Dylan relocated to the Boise area in the fall of 2010 to study with Grammy Award winning bassist Clark Sommers, and can be heard playing weekly at the Blue Door in the ArtsWest affiliated "Jazz Institute".

Christopher Brown
After his completion from high school, Christopher enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a drummer for four years, which is also during the time that he began to really strengthen his professional networking base, beginning with his association with Ellis and Jason Marsalis while stationed in New Orleans. But after one short year in New Orleans, the Corps sent him to Parris Island, SC where at the recommendation of Ellis he began working periodically with the bassist Delbert Felix, formerly of the Branford Marsalis Quartet. And from that association he caught the attention of the legendary jazz bassist Ben Tucker, with whom he worked on and off with for three years. And finally, right before his discharge from active duty, he was afforded the opportunity to perform with Jazz legends Buddy Defranco and Terry Gibbs at the Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, SC.

In addition to his main passion as a drummer, he has also kept up his proficiency on the alto saxophone over the years, which consequently resulted in him having performed live with the great Ralph Peterson Jr. Quintet (2002) on channel six in NJ for one of their segments called "New Jersey Talking," as well as having headlined as a saxophonist for both the 2007 PDX Jazz Festival (OR) and the 2010 Cathedral Park Jazz Festival (OR).


For more information about the JazzForward Competition see http://pdxjazzforward.com/

pdxJazz is a non-profit cultural arts organization dedicated to curating jazz in Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. We strive to inspire, educate and develop future jazz audiences for generations to come. http://pdxjazz.com/


Captured in 16 channels of audio and three cameras, this show has been mixed and edited by Alan Niven. Produced by wolftraks.com in association with pdxJazz, Portland, Oregon.