Jazz at Lincoln Center announces 15 Finalists for the 2017 Essentially Ellington Competition

Jazz at Lincoln Center proudly announces the 15 finalist bands that will compete in the 22nd 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 11 – 13, 2017. 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. Over 4,500 high school bands are members of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2016-17 Essentially Ellington program and benefited from free charts and resources.

The 2017 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Finalists:

  • 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)
  • Foxborough High School (Foxborough, 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 (Orange City, 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)

The 2017 Essentially Ellington Student Composition/Arranging Contest Winner:

Ethan Moffitt, Verdugo Academy (Glendale, CA)

Jazz at Lincoln Center congratulates high school bands returning to the decades-long competition including Byron Center High School, Champaign Central High School, Denver School of the Arts, Dillard Center for the Arts, Edmonds-Woodway High School, Foxborough High School, Lexington High School, Mount Si High School, Mountlake Terrace High School, Newark Academy, Osceola County School for the Arts, Sun Prairie High School, Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble and Tucson Jazz Institute as well as first-time contenders Plano West Senior High School.

All Essentially Ellington member bands were 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 Wynton Marsalis and a panel of esteemed judges.

On May 11, 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 13, 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.

Ethan Moffitt, the winner of the 2017 Essentially Ellington Student Composition/Arranging Contest, will have his composition recorded by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. In addition, the winning composer will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a composition lesson with Ted Nash, GRAMMY award winning musician and longtime member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center, and a trip to New York City to observe the recording session and the Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival.

Festival events, including the final concert featuring the three top-placing bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, will be webcast live on

The Competition & Festival is the culmination of the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program 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 36,000 newly transcribed scores by the end of this school year.

For more information including background, history, photos, and audio recordings of the Essentially Ellington 2017 repertoire, and more, visit:

The Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival is media-accessible via Jazz at Lincoln Center social media on Facebook, Twitter @EssEllington, Instagram @jazzdotorg, and Tumblr. Students, viewers, and participators can share their thoughts and photos by using the hashtag #EE2017

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