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

Essentially Ellington Finalists Announced

Of the 15 high-school bands chosen as finalists in this year’s Essentially Ellington competition, only two are groups that placed in last year’s contest. Seattle’s Garfield High School jazz band, which took 2nd place in 2002, and the group from New World School of the Arts, 2002’s 3rd place winners, will return to Lincoln Center in May to play before a panel of judges including Rufus Reid, Loren Schoenberg, David Berger and Wynton Marsalis and defend their respective titles as the second- and third-best teenage Duke Ellington cover bands. Or perhaps one of these bands will take top honors as Seattle’s Roosevelt High School Jazz Band did last year.

To find the finalists, Jazz at Lincoln Center sent six, newly transcribed Ellington scores and educational materials to 1,221 high school jazz band directors and asked that those interested in competing record three of the tunes and send in tapes for consideration. J@LC received tapes from 133 schools and chose 15 bands from the schools listed below as finalists.

Essentially Ellington festivities will begin May 17, when the finalist bands arrive for workshops, rehearsals, a banquet dinner and jam sessions with members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO).

The competition starts on May 18 at 4 p.m. in Avery Fisher Hall and concludes in the same spot May 19 at 10:30 a.m. A 7:30 p.m. concert on May 19, will have the top three bands perform alone and with Marsalis as a soloist, followed by the LCJO performing an all-Ellington set.

Admission to the competition is free. Tickets for the concert are $20 and are available at the Avery Fisher Hall box office, by calling CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500, or via

Full list of finalists:

River East Collegiate, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Calabasas High School, Calabasas, CA

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, CA

SF Jazz All-Star High School Ensemble, San Francisco, CA

Guilford High School, Guilford, CT

Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT

New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL

St. Charles East High School, St. Charles, IL

Foxboro High School, Foxboro, MA

Lexington High School, Lexington, MA

Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen, MI

315 All-Stars, Greater Syracuse, NY

Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra, Rochester, NY

Edmonds-Woodway High School, Edmonds, WA

Garfield High School, Seattle, WA

Originally Published