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Jazz at Lincoln Center Announces winners of Essentially Ellington Competition 2017

(EE2017 – photo by Frank Stewart)

Jazz at Lincoln Center proudly announces the top three high school jazz bands in the nation that took the highest honors tonight at the prestigious 22nd Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

The first-place winner is Tucson Jazz Institute from Tucson, AZ. This is the third time Tucson Jazz Institute has taken first-place honors including 2013 and 2014. The second-place winner is Denver School of the Arts from Denver, CO and third-place winner is Dillard Center for the Arts from Fort Lauderdale, FL. The honorable mention winner is Newark Academy from Newark, NJ.

Beginning on May 11, the top 15 high school jazz bands in the country participated in the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival and for the first time ever, Essentially Ellington welcomed guests from the Orquesta Juvenil de Jazz de Cuba to perform in exhibition. Their performance enriched the community and expanded Jazz at Lincoln Center’s reach to the educational system in Havana. All 16 bands were immersed in three days of mentoring, jam sessions, and workshops.

On Friday, May 12, the competition kicked off with a second line parade, United We Swing, with all participating bands, hosts, community members and city officials parading from Columbus Circle Park to the Jazz at Lincoln Center marquee at the Time Warner Center. The United We Swing second line parade was held in celebration and support of arts programs and arts education nationwide.

This evening, the competition culminated with each top-placing band performing alongside their choice of guest soloist from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The final concert also featured the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis – whose members served as mentors for the finalist bands throughout the festival. The Orchestra performed the music of Chick Webb and Duke Ellington which will be featured in next year’s Essentially Ellington Program.

Each finalist band was selected by a panel of adjudicators including: Loren Schoenberg, Mark Buselli, Steve Fidyk, and Todd Coolman. At the Festival, finalist bands were critiqued by a panel of judges comprised of distinguished jazz musicians and historians: Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis; acclaimed trumpeter and Artistic Director of the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras Sean Jones; big band leader, drummer and Grammy-nominated recording artist Jeff Hamilton; renowned flautist, saxophonist, composer, educator, and EE Alum Erica von Kleist; and Director Emeritus of Jazz Studies Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts Dr. Bob Morgan.

During the culminating ceremony, Wynton Marsalis presented awards to each of the finalist high school jazz bands. Tucson Jazz Institute accepted the first-place trophy and an award of $5,000. Denver School of the Arts accepted the second-place trophy and an award of $2,500. Dillard Center for the Arts accepted the third-place trophy with an award of $1,000. The remaining finalist bands were each awarded a cash prize of $500. All monetary awards are to be used for improving the jazz education programs of each respective high school.

Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 22nd Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival Awards

FIRST PLACE: TUCSON JAZZ INSTITUTE
SECOND PLACE: DENVER SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
THIRD PLACE: DILLARD CENTER FOR THE ARTS
HONORABLE MENTION: NEWARK ACADEMY

HONORABLE MENTION RHYTHM SECTION:
Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble
Tucson Jazz Institute

OUTSTANDING RHYTHM SECTION:
Newark Academy
Dillard Center for the Arts

OUTSTANDING CLARINET SECTION:
Byron Center High School

HONORABLE MENTION REED SECTION:
Mount Si High School
Tucson Jazz Institute
Edmonds-Woodway High School

OUTSTANDING REED SECTION:
Newark Academy
Denver School of the Arts

OUTSTANDING TROMBONE SECTION:
Tucson Jazz Institute
Dillard Center for the Arts

OUTSTANDING TRUMPET SECTION:
Orquesta Juvenil de Jazz de Cuba
Osceola County School for the Arts
Dillard Center for the Arts

HONORABLE MENTION BRASS:
Mountlake Terrace High School

OUTSTANDING BRASS:
Osceola County School for the Arts

HONORABLE MENTION PIANO:
Max Moore – Denver School of the Arts
Miles Lennox – Dillard Center for the Arts

OUTSTANDING BASS:
Shaan Pandiri – Newark Academy
R.J. Silver – Foxboro High School
Gabe Rupe – Denver School of the Arts
James Lesky – Dillard Center for the Arts

HONORABLE MENTION GUITAR:
Gian Neri – Mountlake Terrace High School

OUTSTANDING GUITAR:
Cosimo Fabrizio – Newark Academy
Jake Pardo – Dillard Center for the Arts

OUTSTANDING DRUMS:
Teddy McGraw – Newark Academy

HONORABLE MENTION VIBRAPHONE:
Alec Streete – Denver School of the Arts

OUTSTANDING TAP DANCER:
Brendan Kellam – Tucson Jazz Institute

HONORABLE MENTION CLARINET:
Joel Petrass – Tucson Jazz Institute

OUTSTANDING CLARINET:
Alan Lin – Newark Academy
Chris Ferrari – Denver School of the Arts

HONORABLE MENTION ALTO SAXOPHONE:
Christian Palomo – Mount Si High School
Connor Hoyt – Foxboro High School
Nigel Hervey – Dillard Center for the Arts

OUTSTANDING ALTO SAXOPHONE:
Eric Law – Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble
Max Hubbard – Champaign Central High School
Charles Penn – Newark Academy
Andrew Gianetti – Tucson Jazz Institute

HONORABLE MENTION TENOR SAXOPHONE:
Dillon Crawford – Sun Prairie High School
Omar Barradas – Plano West Senior High School
Jonathan Aviles – Osceola County School for the Arts
Kieran Hitsman – Dillard Center for the Arts
Victor Spuck – Dillard Center for the Arts

OUTSTANDING TENOR SAXOPHONE:
Luis Miguel Sanchez – Orquesta Juvenil de Jazz de Cuba
Bennett LeClaire – Sun Prairie High School
Griffin Ross – Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble
Allen Zhu – Newark Academy
Chris Ferrari – Denver School of the Arts
Dylon Rajah – Mountlake Terrace High School

HONORABLE MENTION,BARITONE SAXOPHONE:
Kyle Bainbridge – Edmonds-Woodway High School

OUTSTANDING BARITONE SAXOPHONE:
Jorge Sergio Ramirez – Orquesta Juvenil de Jazz de Cuba
Lauren Elliott – Byron Center High School
Kevin Choi – Tucson Jazz Institute

OUTSTANDING TRIPLER:
Austin Zhang – Plano West Senior High School
Andrew Sumabat – Mountlake Terrace High School

HONORABLE MENTION TROMBONE:
Reid Christmann – Newark Academy
Kenneth Eva – Foxboro High School

OUTSTANDING TROMBONE:
Gered Beyford – Mount Si High School
Charlie Sothcott – Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble
Richie Brennan – Tucson Jazz Institute
Diego Duval – Osceola County School for the Arts
Rashaan Salaam – Dillard Center for the Arts
Jack Hillman – Edmonds-Woodway High School

OUTSTANDING TUBA:
Kyle Matthews – Foxboro High School

HONORABLE MENTION, TRUMPET:
Andrew Twiford – Byron Center High School
Austin Muthyala – Byron Center High School
Jose Valle – Osceola County School for the Arts

OUTSTANDING TRUMPET:
David Armando Navarro – Orquesta Juvenil de Jazz de Cuba
Sean Hakala – Mount Si High School
Miranda Agnew – Tucson Jazz Institute
Eric Gonzalez – Osceola County School for the Arts
Summer Camargo – Dillard Center for the Arts
Alex Tung – Lexington High School

OUTSTANDING LEAD TRUMPET:
Danny Carrion – Osceola County School for the Arts

HONORABLE MENTION VOCALS:
Samantha Powell – Newark Academy
Brianna Garcon – Dillard Center for the Arts

OUTSTANDING VOCALS:
Sage Eisenhour – Mount Si High School
Chris Ross – Lexington High School

THE ELLA FITZGERALD OUTSTANDING SOLOIST AWARD:
Rashaan Salaam – Dillard Center for the Arts

In the spirit of creativity and the continuation of the jazz legacy, Jazz at Lincoln Center also recognized the winner of the 5th Annual Dr. J. Douglas White Essentially Ellington Student Composition/Arranging Contest, Ethan Moffitt of Verdugo Academy (Glendale, CA). Each submission was critiqued by composer, arranger, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra saxophonist, Ted Nash, and the winning selection was recorded by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at their annual Essentially Ellington recording session on Wednesday, May 10. In addition, the winning composer received a cash prize, a composition lesson with Ted Nash, and a trip to New York City to observe the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra recording session and the 2017 Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival.

The Competition & Festival is the culmination of the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program (EE), which also includes non-competitive regional festivals around the country, teaching resources, a summer Band Director Academy, and more. The year-long Essentially Ellington program will have distributed more than 36,000 newly transcribed scores by the end of this school year. For more information including background, history and audio recordings of the Essentially Ellington repertoire and more, visit: www.jazz.org/ee.

This year, the Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival was accessible via social media on Facebook, Twitter EssEllington, and Instagram jazzdotorg. Throughout the weekend, students, viewers, and participants shared their thoughts and photos by using the hashtag #EssentiallyEllington, #Ellington17 and #UnitedWeSwing.

The 15 Finalists for Essentially Ellington 2017 (in alphabetical order):
Byron Center High School (Byron Center, MI); Champaign Central High School (Champaign, IL); Denver School of the Arts (Denver, CO); Dillard Center for the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL); Edmonds-Woodway High School (Edmonds, WA); Foxboro High School (Foxboro, MA); Lexington High School (Lexington, MA); Mount Si High School (Snoqualmie, WA); Mountlake Terrace High School (Mountlake Terrace, WA); Newark Academy (Livingston, NJ); Osceola County School for the Arts (Kissimmee, FL); Plano West Senior High School (Plano, TX); Sun Prairie High School (Sun Prairie, WI); Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble (Raleigh, NC); Tucson Jazz Institute (Tucson, AZ).

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  1. Unfortunately, once again, a group that is not a high school, wins the competition. They may be high school students, but the Tucson Jazz Institute in not a school where students take classes in language arts, science, P.E, etc., in addition to any band classes. Even the band is named after Ellington. I have no doubt they are a fantastic group to listen to and experience, but they are an all-star (area/region/community) band, not a SCHOOL band. If EE is going to promote and advertise their festival as a high school competition, like they stated in the very first sentence above, then TJI should not be eligible. At the very least, have a separate category for groups like TJI. Denver and Newark are (private) schools and students have to take academic classes like the public schools.

    If you ever noticed, all the Washington state schools that have ever been in the competition are public schools taught by one band director, with some students taking private lessons and paying out of their own pockets. This includes this year’s representatives, which does not include Garfield and Roosevelt (previous EE winners). I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the evolution of TJI was because of the two Seattle schools domination when west coast schools were allowed to participate in the EE festival.

    Something needs to change to give this festival more credibility. If it is for high schools, then let it be for high schools only (public and/or private). If it is for high school age organizations, then let it be just that.

    Jon on May 30th, 2017 at 2:14am

  2. Outstanding musical experience for all! Thank you for continuing this competition with all the learning experiences.
    One change would be that high school jazz groups and city wide auditioned groups be separated in the judging. I am sure that you have considered this issue and it would be important for you to solve it.
    Thank you for your dedication to these young musicians whose lives have been changed forever!
    Janet HB

    Janet HB on May 16th, 2017 at 2:36am

  3. While this is a wonderful opportunity for outstanding student groups, it is completely unfair to have “competition” between true public school groups that draw from their service areas against private, magnet and/or arts-specific schools that focus on only the “top music students.” I urge the event to at minimum separate into two areas (general public schools and private/magnet/arts schools. Only then would “competition” be validated.

    Bruce Caldwell
    Executive Director, retired (1995-2015), Washington Music Educators Association
    Past President (1992-1994), Washington Music Educators Association
    Founding Director (1990), Edmonds-Woodway High School Jazz Band
    Founding Director (1964), Mountlake Terrace High School Jazz Band
    Founding Director (1962), University of Washington Jazz Band

    Bruce Caldwell on May 16th, 2017 at 12:04am

  4. Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band also held the first place title in 2012, and as a “community” band in 2010.

    Thank you for all you do and for the experiences these students and all the directors/instructors, mentors, families, schools, administrators, city and state legislators/officials, and the arts leaders and advocates can enjoy and give ‘shout outs!’

    Krystyna Parafinczuk on May 15th, 2017 at 2:57pm