STAMFORD, Conn. -- Andrew DeNicola, a 2013 Stamford High graduate, formed The Collective Jazz Project with three friends so they could spread their love of music.
And they succeeded in doing so at the Darien's Got Talent fund-raiser for the the Darien Arts Center. The Collective Jazz Project took home top honors in the contest before a crowd of more than 800.
This jazz band of four wowed the top-shelf finalist judges and a packed audience of family, friends and local supporters. They were awarded first-place for their amazing rendition of the 1960s classic, “Sunny.” Band members consist of DeNicola, Jordan Darefsky, Eli Koskoff and Will Trautmann.
DeNicola, who plays saxophone, will be attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music in the fall, where he plans to study performing and composition. He has been a part of the Regional Center for the Arts in Trumbull, the Stamford Young Artists’ Jazz program, and various high school groups.
Pianist Darefsky just completed his freshman year at Staples High School in Westport and is a member of the school’s jazz band.
Koskoff, the band’s 16-year-old guitarist, just completed his sophomore year at Staples High School. He has been playing guitar for almost eight years and is a member of the Stamford Young Artists' Jazz Ensemble. Drummer Trautmann is 18 and recently graduated from Darien High School. He will be attending UConn in the fall and plans to study environmental engineering and music.
More than 75 contestants auditioned during a two-day period for the fund-raiser. The field was narrowed down to 21 finalists, with three performances judged to be the best of the best.
Jeanette Vecchione took home second place for her stellar performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Glitter and Be Gay” from “Candide.” Henry Thomas placed third with his original composition drum solo “Less is More,” . The evening’s executive producers Patty Mozingo and Catherine McNear presented the awards.
The judges at the finals were New York talent scout Ceci Kurzman; Tony award-winning producer Edwin Schloss' former principal with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Barbara Goldsmith Broadway director BT McNicholl; and New York Philharmonic violinist Asya Meshberg.
The Darien Arts Center is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1975. It offers educational programs in dance, visual arts, music and theater, as well as special events and live theater performances.