Meet 2015 Sandy Izenson Scholarship Recipient, Clifton Metcalf!

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Clifton (Clif) Metcalf is a senior at Alma High School. An accomplished bassist and tenor sax player, Clif took numerous awards at local and regional school­based jazz festivals through his freshman and sophomore years. In the winter of 2013, Clif (an avid jazz listener) began listening to jazz organ artists like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Tony Monaco, and others. He began experimenting with software­based jazz organ sounds on his Mac. Having only a midi keyboard and software, Clif, his brother, and some good friends formed Dot Org Jazz Organ Combo and entered some local jazz festivals for judges’ comments only. They were well received and encouraged to push on.

In February 2014, after meeting Jim Alfredson (Lansing) of the organ jazz group Organissimo, Clif’s primary focus became jazz organ. Learning that Clif was playing a midi software keyboard, Jim generously gave Clif a vintage Hammond that he had, himself, learned to play on! Soon Clif was playing jazz organ at all hours of the day and night, including early in the morning before school! Jim Alfredson has been an outstanding mentor and friend to Clif. Their friendship has continued, and each has written a tune in honor of the other. Clif and Dot Org will debut their composition in honor of Jim Alfredson­­Jim’s Groove­­as their original contribution at the 2015 Lansing Jazz Festival.

In April of 2014, Clif and Dot Org were fortunate enough to meet and perform with Tony Monaco, internationally renowned jazz organist and Artist-­in­-Residence at Hope College, Holland Michigan. Since that time, Clif has dual­-enrolled at Alma High School and Hope College, in order to study with Tony Monaco. Clif will continue his study with Mr. Monaco through his senior year of high school, and plans to attend Hope College in the fall of 2016.

In the past year, Clif’s skills have grown, and he has earned numerous awards on organ, including “Outstanding Soloist Class B” at CMU’s Jazz Weekend 2015, and Outstanding Festival Soloist at the Alma College Phi Mu Alpha Jazz Festival, 2015. Clif and Dot Org Jazz Organ Combo have had the opportunity to play in a number of larger venues, including the Dow Diamond, Central Michigan University, Alma College, and Hope College Park Theater. They are regular contributors to the Jazz Jam at the SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids, and entertain in a number of pubs around the state, including Our Brewing Company of Holland, Northport Brewing of Northport, Mountain Town Brewing of Mt. Pleasant, River Stop Cafe of Newaygo, and Storm Cloud Brewing of Frankfort.

Clif counts meeting Joey DeFrancesco, opening a concert for Tony Monaco, and receiving the Sandy Izenson Scholarship through JAMM, among his proudest moments. He is looking forward to performing with the JAMM Scholarship Combo as well as with his own group, Dot Org, at the Lansing Jazz Festival, August 7th and 8th. Clif and Dot Org will perform at Northport Brewing in Leelanau County August 14 and in “Walk the Beat Music Festival” in Grand Haven, August 15. They are especially excited about participating in the “Jazz Organ Summit,” a gathering of jazz organ greats. The event is to be hosted by Tony Monaco at Hope College sometime within the coming academic year. Details to be announced.

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