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Tucson Jazz Institute Wins First Place at Essentially Ellington

Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale) Last Year Winner
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On Sunday night Wynton Marsalis proudly announced the high school jazz bands that took the highest honors at the prestigious 18th Annual Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival (EE).

After a packed three days of mentoring, jam sessions, and workshops, EE culminated with tonight’s final concert, where the top-placing bands each performed with a Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) member. The second half of the final concert featured the world renowned JLCO with Wynton Marsalis – whose members served as mentors for the finalist bands throughout the weekend - performing a repertoire of tunes made famous by Duke Ellington.

Each band was chosen by a panel of judges composed of distinguished jazz musicians and historians: Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Artistic and Managing Director Wynton Marsalis; composer, conductor, and Ellington authority David Berger; composer and arranger Rich DeRosa; educator and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member Victor Goines; and bassist extraordinaire and educator Ron Carter. 

Two of the three judges, Victor Goines and Wynton Marsalis, hail from New Orleans --- yet for another year, Crescent City schools have not made it to the finals.  As Victor Goines (a proud graduate of St. Augustine High) said, "New Orleans has got to do something about this."

At the awards ceremony, Wynton Marsalis presented awards to each of the 15 finalist high school jazz bands. Doug Tidaback, director of Tucson Jazz Institute, accepted the 1st place trophy and an award of $5,000. Julius Tolentino, director of Jazz House Kids, accepted the 2nd place trophy and an award of $2,500. Scott Brown, director of Roosevelt High School, accepted the 3rd place trophy and an award of $1,000. Dillard Center for the Arts, directed by Christopher Dorsey, received honorable mention and an award of $750. The remaining eleven bands were each awarded certificates of merit and cash awards of $500. All monetary awards are to be used for improving the jazz education programs of each respective high school.

More important than any of the prizes was the experience of these hundreds of high school jazz artists as they shared, performed and learned throughout the festival.  The atmosphere was simply electric --- and the young adults truly left it all on the stage, performance after performance.  Brought the Jelly Roll to tears. 

The Competition & Festival is the culmination of the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program, which also includes regional festivals, teaching resources, a summer Band Director Academy, newsletters, and more.
This year 2,500 high schools in the United States, Canada, and American schools in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom received Essentially Ellington materials.
In the first three months of registration, more than 1,500 band directors registered their high schools.
This year, 96 bands entered the competition by submitting a recorded performance of three compositions.  From these the 15 finalists were selected.
Throughout March and April, Jazz at Lincoln Center sent, free of charge, a professional jazz musician to each of the 15 finalist band schools to lead an intensive day-long workshop of rehearsals, lessons, and master classes.
The free clinics are part of the rich 18-year history of this unique music education program, which, by the end of this school year, will have reached more than 450,000 students in more than 4,000 high schools across all 50 United States, Canada, and American schools abroad.
This year, for the first time, band directors have access to free charts and other JALC resources available through instant digital download. 
By the end of this year, Jazz at Lincoln Center will have distributed 15,000 newly transcribed scores.  JALC has sent over 135,000 free copies of 104 previously unavailable big band scores by Duke Ellington and other seminal composers.  
Over the years, 252 finalist bands have traveled to New York City to participate in the annual Competition & Festival.
Social Media:  This year, the Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival will be more media-accessible than ever via JALC social media -
Facebook at facebook.com/EssentiallyEllington        
Twitter @EssEllington
Instagram @Jalcnyc        
Students, viewers, and participators can share their thoughts and photos with us by using the hashtag #EE2013. 
For more information including background, history, photos, and audio recordings of the Essentially Ellington 2013 repertoire, and more, visit: www.jalc.org/ee 


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