Jazz at Lincoln Center announces 15 Finalists for the 2016 Essentially Ellington Competition

Jazz at Lincoln Center proudly announces the 15 finalist bands that will compete in the 21st Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival – one of the most innovative jazz education events in the world – at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, on May 5 – 7, 2016. The following finalists are among nearly 100 high school jazz bands across North America that entered the competition. Each school submitted recordings of three tunes performed from charts from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington library. Nearly 3,800 high school bands will have participated in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2015-16 Essentially Ellington program and benefited from free charts and resources.

The 2016 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Finalists:

  • Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, WI)
  • Byron Center High School (Byron Center, MI)
  • Crescent Super Band (American Fork, UT)
  • Foxboro High School (Foxboro, MA)
  • Garfield High School (Seattle, WA)
  • Jazz House Kids (Montclair, NJ)
  • Lexington High School (Lexington, MA)
  • Mount Si High School (Snoqualmie, WA)
  • New World School of the Arts (Miami, FL)
  • Roosevelt High School (Seattle, WA)
  • San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (San Diego, CA)
  • Sun Prairie High School (Sun Prairie, WI)
  • Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble (Raleigh, NC)
  • Tucson Jazz Institute (Tucson, AZ)
  • University High School (Orange City, FL)

2016 J. Douglas White Essentially Ellington Student Composition/Arranging Contest Winner:

Joseph Block, Germantown Friends School (Philadelphia, PA)

Each band was invited to submit a recording, and 15 finalists were selected through a rigorous screening process. Each finalist band receives an in-school workshop led by a professional musician before coming to New York to put up their “Dukes” and perform before esteemed judges Lauren Sevian, Jeff Hamilton, Chuck Israel, Chris Crenshaw and Wynton Marsalis.

On May 5, the finalist bands will arrive in New York City to spend three days immersed in workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals and performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center. On May 7, the Competition & Festival will conclude with a concert and awards ceremony featuring the three top-placing bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Joseph Block, the winner of the 2016 J. Douglas White Essentially Ellington Student Composition/Arranging Contest, will have his composition recorded by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In addition, the winning composer will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a composition lesson with Ted Nash, and a trip to New York City to observe the recording session and the Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival. The entire weekend of EE events, including the final concert featuring the three top-placing bands and the JLCO, will be webcast live on

he 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, newsletters, and more. The year-long Essentially Ellington program will have distributed 30,000 newly transcribed scores by the end of this school year. For more information including background, history, photos, and audio recordings of the Essentially Ellington 2016 repertoire, and more, visit:

The Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival is media-accessible via JALC social media on Facebook, Twitter @EssEllington, Instagram @jazzdotorg, and Tumblr. Students, viewers, and participators can share their thoughts and photos by using the hashtag #EE2016.

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