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Jazz at Lincoln Center Lauds Top High School Jazz Soloists at Essentially Ellington Virtual Festival

Frank Hammel • News • June 7, 2021

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Wynton Marsalis congratulated the winners on June 5 during the virtual event

On June 5, as part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2021 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Virtual Festival, Wynton Marsalis announced the Outstanding Soloists and Sections of the 26th annual event.

More details from Jazz at Lincoln Center (www.jazz.org):

These high school students were recognized at an awards ceremony that concluded the virtual events that took place from June 2 to June 5, 2021, as more than three hundred of the top high school students from coast to coast participated in the nation’s premiere jazz education event.

These students comprised the 15 finalist bands that represent thousands of young people throughout the world that study, rehearse, and perform music from the Essentially Ellington library.

These awards were determined by an all-star panel of jazz luminaries: Wynton Marsalis, Darcy James Argue, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and Catherine Russell.

In an address at the festival, Wynton Marsalis congratulated the band directors and students. He also recognized his fellow Essentially Ellington adjudicators by saying, “the seriousness and the specificity in listening to these bands is a wonder to behold, and has been enjoyable.”

To the students, Marsalis said, “These are difficult times for our nation, but remember our music has a spirit of coming together. Let’s not forget about the Jazz Age and what Benny Goodman did by integrating the bandstand. There are classic aspects about our music that do not age.”

WINNER OF THE 9TH ANNUAL ESSENTIALLY ELLINGTON DR. J. DOUGLAS WHITE STUDENT COMPOSITION AND ARRANGING CONTEST:

Daiki Nakajima from Prospect High School in Saratoga, CA

HONORABLE MENTION RHYTHM SECTION:

Champaign Central High School

OUTSTANDING RHYTHM SECTION:

Plano West Senior High School

Newton South High School

Dillard Center for the Arts

Foxboro High School

Carroll Senior High School

Tucson Jazz Institute

Memphis Central High School

HONORABLE MENTION SAXOPHONE SECTION:

Agoura High School

Tucson Jazz Institute

Memphis Central High School

OUTSTANDING SAXOPHONE SECTION:

Dillard Center for the Arts

Foxboro High School

Carroll Senior High School

William H. Hall High School

Noblesville High School

OUTSTANDING BRASS SECTION:

Carroll Senior High School

HONORABLE MENTION TROMBONE SECTION:

Foxboro High School

OUTSTANDING TROMBONE SECTION:

Olathe Northwest High School

Byron Center High School

Plano West Senior High School

Roosevelt High School

Newton South High School

William H. Hall High School

Noblesville High School

Tucson Jazz Institute

Memphis Central High School

OUTSTANDING TRUMPET SECTION:

Byron Center High School

Roosevelt High School

Newton South High School

Champaign Central High School

Memphis Central High School

HONORABLE MENTION PIANO:

Matthew Currey (Champaign Central High School)

Denali Kauffman (Tucson Jazz Institute)

OUTSTANDING PIANO:

Carmen Thomassiny (Dillard Center for the Arts)

OUTSTANDING BASS:

Jude Seiner (Newton South High School)

Aidan Taylor (Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts)

Aviel Del Rosario (Dillard Center for the Arts)

OUTSTANDING GUITAR:

Owen Underwood (Plano West Senior High School)

Anya Owens (Dillard Center for the Arts)

HONORABLE MENTION DRUMS:

Tobey Siegel (William H. Hall High School)

OUTSTANDING DRUMS:

Levi Birks (Olathe Northwest High School)

Josh Ferguson (Byron Center High School)

Colman Burks (Plano West Senior High School)

Harrison Gesser (Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts)

Tahj Duncan (Dillard Center for the Arts)

Liam Earnst (Foxboro High School)

Khristian Parker (Memphis Central High School)

OUTSTANDING VIBRAPHONE:

Nathan Mesler (Roosevelt High School)

HONORABLE MENTION CLARINET:

Noah Yontef (William H. Hall High School)

OUTSTANDING CLARINET:

Emma Lacy (Foxboro High School)

Kevin Ravellette (Tucson Jazz Institute)

HONORABLE MENTION ALTO SAXOPHONE:

Paul Kimball (Byron Center High School)

Jackson Nesin-Perna (Newton South High School)

Dylan Heinen (William H. Hall High School)

OUTSTANDING ALTO SAXOPHONE:

Keegan Kaiser (Olathe Northwest High School)

Connor MacLeod (Plano West Senior High School)

Eliana Rojany (Agoura High School)

Allen Green (Agoura High School)

Eli Sullivan (Roosevelt High School)

Emma Lacy (Foxboro High School)

Justin Wu (Carroll Senior High School)

Andrew Gioannetti (Tucson Jazz Institute)

Steven Dockery (Memphis Central High School)

HONORABLE MENTION TENOR SAXOPHONE:

Owen Gwinn (Roosevelt High School)

Brandon Stacy (Dillard Center for the Arts)

Sophia Davis (Foxboro High School)

OUTSTANDING TENOR SAXOPHONE:

Chris Ghaffar (Plano West Senior High School)

Aidan Higgins (Newton South High School)

Adam Lord (Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts)

Kevin Ravellette (Tucson Jazz Institute)

Jah Sims (Memphis Central High School)

OUTSTANDING BARITONE SAXOPHONE:

Coleman Stanton (Newton South High School)

Diego Peña (Carroll Senior High School)

HONORABLE MENTION TROMBONE:

Kathryn Currey (Champaign Central High School)

Luke Nelson (Noblesville High School)

Brennan Miller (Tucson Jazz Institute)

OUTSTANDING TROMBONE:

Jake Brunink (Byron Center High School)

Ben Rosen (Agoura High School)

Cole Petridis (Agoura High School)

Nick Mesler (Roosevelt High School)

Jackson Spellman (Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts)

Adrian Braga (Dillard Center for the Arts)

Denali Kauffman (Tucson Jazz Institute)

HONORABLE MENTION TRUMPET:

Nolan Kirkwood (Byron Center High School)

Javier Gonzalez (Roosevelt High School)

Conner Branch (Champaign Central High School)

Harry Epstein (William H. Hall High School)

OUTSTANDING LEAD TRUMPET:

Hudson Koonsman (Carroll Senior High School)

OUTSTANDING TRUMPET:

Aleko Nicolacakis (Agoura High School)

Garrett Lubbers (Dillard Center for the Arts)

Adrian Camacho (Dillard Center for the Arts)

Chase Adams (Carroll Senior High School)

Levi Rozek (Noblesville High School)

Cameron Davidson (Tucson Jazz Institute)

THE ELLA FITZGERALD OUTSTANDING SOLOIST AWARD:

Emma Lacy (Foxboro High School)

Aviel Del Rosario (Dillard Center for the Arts)

The 2021 Virtual Essentially Ellington Festival events included a Q&A with Jazz at Lincoln Center Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis; mentorship and section workshops with JLCO members; a virtual jam session; a student composition masterclass; a virtual lunch with JLCO members and virtual performances.

Faced with enormous challenges due to concerns around COVID-19, band directors and high school student jazz musicians around the country have applied innovative and creative approaches to perform with and learn from each other. Inspired by this dedication and commitment, Jazz at Lincoln Center continues its support for this unique community through the 2021 Virtual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival.

In many ways, this year’s festival was a bit different than in years past. Notable was the pause on the “competition” between the bands, with the focus instead on an Essentially Ellington Festival designed purely to showcase the bands’ accomplishments. However, plenty of awards were still given for exceptional individual and section performances!

ABOUT ESSENTIALLY ELLINGTON:

Essentially Ellington is the nation’s premier jazz education program which has helped foster the talent and appreciation for jazz music to over one million young musicians throughout its history. The annual festival marks the culmination of the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program, which includes non-competitive regional festivals around the country, free transcriptions of original recordings by Duke Ellington and other seminal big band composers and arrangers, additional teaching resources, free adjudication, and more.

The Essentially Ellington program has reached nearly 7,000 schools and independent bands in 55 countries. This important work is made possible by contributions of individuals and institutions who support the mission. Please support Jazz at Lincoln Center in this challenging time to ensure the organization is able to continue to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for jazz through online learning and social media platforms.

For more information, including background, history, and audio recordings of the Essentially Ellingtonrepertoire, visit: jazz.org/ee.

Video of Wynton Marsalis announcing the 2021 Virtual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival finalists is available here: https://youtu.be/ITOSe2UzkaQ.

Founding leadership support for Essentially Ellington is provided by The Jack and Susan Rudin Educational and Scholarship Fund and Gail and Alfred Engelberg.

Leadership support is provided by Helen and Robert Appel,

Jody and John Arnhold, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, and The Weissman Family Foundation.

Major support made possible through the support of

America’s Cultural Treasures,

a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Major support also provided by Augustine Foundation,

Robin and Peter Berger, Susan and J. Alan Kahn,

Barry F. Schwartz, and Vital Projects Fund, Inc.

Generous support is provided by one Anonymous Donor,

Tina and Jeffrey Bolton, Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Fund,

Cher Lewis and Daughters Charitable Trust, Diane Coffey,

Patricia Cliff and Karl Von Frieling, Robin and Jay L. Lewis,

and Sy Syms Foundation.

Jazz at Lincoln Center proudly acknowledges its major corporate partners: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Grand Seiko,

Con Edison, Entergy, Steinway & Sons,

and The Coca-Cola Company.

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