Saxophonist and educator Julius Tolentino has been on the New York jazz scene for over 20 years. 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, Terrell Stafford, Cecile McLorin, Michael Feinstein, Dianne Reeves, Jimmy Heath, the Roy Hargrove Big Band, the Mingus Big Band, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. A graduate of the Hartt School of Music, he was able to study with NEA Jazz Master and alto saxophone legend Jackie McLean, who also introduced him to his other musical father, Illinois Jacquet. Julius has played in the top jazz venues and festivals in the US, which includes Avery Fisher Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival, Tanglewood, the Village Vanguard, Birdland, Blue Note, the Jazz Standard, and Dizzy’s Coca Cola. As a leader his debut cd “Just the Beginning” on the Sharp Nine label peaked at #8 on the jazz charts in 2006.
As an educator, Mr. T has worked with thousands of students from all across the country. In 2007 he became the jazz director at Newark Academy, where he currently conducts five jazz ensembles, wind ensemble, and the middle school bands. He is currently an adjunct professor at Princeton University, Montclair State University and is a director at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s High School Jazz Academy. He has served as NJAJE Region I President from 2009-2011 and as a board member of the Jazz Education Network from 2016-2018. He served as Director of Large Ensembles at Jazz House Kids from 2010-2017 and the NJ Youth Symphony Jazz program from 2018-2021, as well as a Middle School Jazz Academy Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2016-2019. His groups have placed first and have been finalists in several national festivals and competitions- Essentially Ellington (2012-2019, 2022), the Charles Mingus Competition (2011-2019, 2023), and the Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival. At the state level, Newark Academy has received First Place at the NJAJE State Finals twelve years in a row.
Julius has presented clinics and has conducted All State and All City Jazz Bands all over the United States. 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. His platform JTole Music was created to help educators and students from around the globe with festivals, workshops, and video lessons.