Roosevelt High Jazz Band places second at Essentially Ellington
The Roosevelt High School Jazz Band placed second at the Essentially Ellington competition in New York this weekend. A magnet school from Florida, Dillard Center for the Arts, finished ahead of Roosevelt.
Seattle Times jazz critic
The Roosevelt High School Jazz Band has placed second at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington competition in New York.
The Seattle school, with a world-renowned jazz program, has won three times previously, but on Sunday was bested by a Florida magnet school, Dillard Center for the Arts, from Fort Lauderdale, which took first place, as it did last year. Miami's New World School of the Arts, which won in 2005, placed third.
The announcement Sunday night came at the end of a concert by the three finalists and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall.
"The kids were a little disappointed because of how coherently they played," said Roosevelt jazz-band director Scott Brown after the announcement. "Which is not taking anything away from Dillard. They played great."
Brown said the Roosevelt kids "blew the roof off Avery Fisher Hall at the Sunday night concert." Afterward, Brown said Duke Ellington's granddaughter said to Brown, "Duke would have been proud to have had his music represented that way."
Two other Seattle-area jazz bands competed over the weekend — Mountlake Terrace and Ballard.
Darin Faul's Mountlake Terrace bunch are old hands, having been finalists six times, placing third in 2005 and 2011. But for Ballard this was all new, and the school's band director, Michael James, was extremely pleased.
"It's been a very cool experience," said James. "I'm very proud of how my kids did. They were so thrilled."
All three Seattle-area high schools picked up awards for individual soloists and sections. Outstanding soloist awards went to Roosevelt's Adrian Noteboom (tenor saxophone), John Otten (trumpet), Noah Halpern (trumpet), Chris McCarthy (piano), Adam Shimabukuro (guitar) and Nate Sampson (drums); and Ballard's Sam Zisette (trumpet), and Jade Likkel (vocals). Outstanding section awards were given to the Mountlake Terrace reeds and Roosevelt's brass.
Going to New York for Essentially Ellington is more than just a day of competition.
Players are mentored by professional jazz musicians, many of them from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, directed by Wynton Marsalis, who hosts the festival.
James took his band members one night to the jazz club Birdland, where they saw veteran saxophonist Jimmy Heath. They also visited Ground Zero and the "Top of the Rock" at Rockefeller Center to take in the evening view.
The competition Saturday and Sunday was streamed online, as it was last year.
Each of the 15 finalists played three songs. In the past, two songs had to be chosen from the six arrangements sent out to the schools, free of charge, by Jazz at Lincoln Center. That meant a lot of repetition for the audience.
This year, the bands only had to play one of the six, so there was a lot more variety. Though Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia" got a lot of play, other tunes, such as "I'm Just a Lucky So-And-So," "Tutti for Cootie" and "Riding on the Blue Note" got airtime, too.
The Essentially Ellington competition has been open to bands west of the Mississippi since 1999. Jazz at Lincoln Center sends out arrangements in the fall and bands who choose to compete send in an audition tape. This year, 111 bands applied.
Over the years, Seattle-area bands have dominated the competition, taking first place seven times (Garfield four, Roosevelt three) and sending at least two — and a couple of times, four — finalists to New York.
Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or firstname.lastname@example.org