Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Essentially Ellington Academy Teaches the Teachers

What a bummer to be in Snowmass Village, Colo. in the summertime. What is there to do when the slopes are green and not fit for skiing upon? (Or snowboarding upon, if that’s how you like it.) 38 high school jazz band directors found plenty to do in those beautiful hills for a long weekend at the end of June when the third annual Essentially Ellington Band Director Academy took place.

Produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and Jazz Aspen Snowmass (that’s another thing the Rockies are good for in the summer: festivals), this year’s Academy had esteemed jazz musciains/educators Ronald Carter, Bob Morgan, Loren Schoenberg and Terell Stafford leading the high school teachers in coursework dealing with big band rehearsal and conducting techniques, leading sectional rehearsals, improvisation, repertoire, and history. It’s likely the high school teachers will take the knowledge gained in the mountains and attempt to translate it into a winning performance at next year’s Essentially Ellington high school band competition-of the 38 directors who attended the Academy, 26 had participated in the 2002 contest which had high school jazz bands “Duke it out” for cash prizes.

It wasn’t all homework and hall passes, though. There was a film program on Ellington and a concert performance featuring Academy faculty, plus another concert by the Westside High School Jazz Ensemble, which served as the Academy’s lab band all weekend. One evening the Denver jazz ensemble Convergence showed up to play a concert and Stafford sat in. And for all their hard work, the high school band directors got to exercise their chops in a long jam session. Made for a nice visit to Snowmass, snow or no.

Originally Published