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Essentially Ellington Winners Chosen

Apparently, the tightest, American high school jazz bands come from the far corners of this great nation. On May 13 three bands, two from Seattle and one from Miami, were chosen as winners in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s seventh annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band competition, held in New York.

Over the course of three days, judges David Berger, Stanley Cowell, Arturo O’Farrill and Wynton Marsalis listened carefully to 15 groups of youngsters swing through Ellington tunes and decided that Roosevelt High School of Seattle’s band was the best. Last year the judges found Roosevelt’s band to be second best. Snagging the second place spot this year was the band from Garfield High School, also from Seattle. And third place went to the New World School of the Arts’ band, from Miami.

At the awards ceremony Marsalis presented prizes to each of the 15 finalist bands, but the top winners took home the big cash prizes: the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band accepted $2,000, the Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble accepted $1,500 and the New World School of the Arts High School Jazz Ensemble, accepted $1,000.

After the awards ceremony each winning band got to play two more Ellington compositions without the pressure of a competition. They may still have felt a certain amount of pressure, however, as Marsalis joined each band for one of their celebratory numbers and the last thing you want to do is screw up the harmony when Wynton’s blowing a lead. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO) then performed a set of Ellington compositions including a rendition of “C Jam Blues” with Cowell at the piano.

Awards were also given to individual band sections and solists from all 15 bands and two vocalists took home the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Vocalist Award: Amanda Brown (pictured) from LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and the Performing Arts in New York and Ann Pedersen from Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, Calif. A full list of winning bands, sections, and soloists follows.

High school jazz band directors seeking more information on Essentially Ellington should contact Nyala Wright, Education Assistant, at (212) 258-9812 or [email protected]

Full list of 2002 AWARDS:


Roosevelt High School Jazz Band
Seattle, Washington
Scott Brown, Director
Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble
Seattle, Washington
Clarence Acox, Director
New World School of the Arts High School Jazz Ensemble
Miami, Florida
Jim Gasior, Director

Mountlake Terrace Jazz Ensemble I
Mountlake Terrace, Washington
Darin Faul, Director

Alex Mabe, alto saxophone, Roosevelt High School
Ben Roseth, alto saxophone, Garfield High School
Benjamin White, clarinet, Garfield High School
Tim Sullivan, tenor and baritone saxophone, Eau Claire Memorial High School
Eric Arellano, tenor saxophone and clarinet, Rio Americano High School
Peter Fanelli, trombone, 315 All Stars
Nicholas DePinna, trombone, SF Jazz All-Star High School Ensemble
Willie Applewhite, trombone, Thornton Township High School
Maxilmilien Darché, trumpet, Connecticut Youth Jazz Ensemble
Brian Kinsella, piano, Roosevelt High School
Aaron Diehl, piano, Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra
David Melton, piano, Hall High School
Fabian Almazan, piano, New World School of the Arts
Jaideep Dargan, bass, Hall High School
Andrea Verrochi, bass, Foxboro High School
Ivan Taylor, bass, Thornton Township High School
Marcus Gilmore, drums, LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and the
Performing Arts
D'vonne Lewis, drums, Roosevelt High School
Andrew Smiley, guitar, Hall High School
Aaron Tasjihan, guitar, Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra

Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Vocalist Awards:
(made possible by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation):
Amanda Brown, vocals, LaGuardia High School for Music and Art and the
Performing Arts
Ann Pedersen, vocals, Rio Americano High School

Reeds, Garfield Jazz Ensemble
Reeds, Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra
Reeds, Foxboro High School Jazz Ensemble
Reeds, 315 All Stars
Reeds, Mountlake Terrace Jazz Ensemble
Trombones, King Philip Regional Jazz Ensemble
Trumpets, Roosevelt Jazz Band
Brass, Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra
Brass, Connecticut Youth Jazz Workshop
Rhythm Section, Roosevelt Jazz Band
Rhythm Section, LaGuardia Concert Jazz Ensemble
Rhythm Section, New World School of Arts High School Jazz Ensemble

Vito Giacalone, alto saxophonist, King Philip Regional High School
Noah Preminger, tenor saxophone, Hall High School
Tim Shade, trombone, Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra
Bram Kincheloe, drums, SF Jazz All-Star High School Ensemble
Caroline Potter, vocals, 315 All Stars
(sponsored by MTV Networks)
First place: Kwami Coleman, LaGuardia High School
Second place: Derek Breen, Eau Claire Memorial High School
Third place: Mark Olson, Eau Claire Memorial High School

Originally Published