Jazz House Kids proudly announces that the Jazz House Big Band, directed by Julius Tolentino, won second place in the 18th annual Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival, the most prestigious high school jazz band competition in the country, held in New York, May 10-12 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. In addition, the band took the sole Rhythm Section award given this year and nine awards for outstanding soloists.
Trombone player Coleman Hughes, a junior at Newark Academy in Livingston, NJ, was given the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist Award, the highest award presented to an individual player in the competition.
Judges for the event included 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. At the awards ceremony last night, Marsalis cited the exceptional maturity of Hughes’ playing and noted the judges believed that, even as a teenager, he could ably step into a working band.
Marsalis also presented prizes to each of the 15 finalist high school jazz bands. Tucson Jazz Institute received the 1st place trophy and an award of $5,000. Julius Tolentino, director of the Jazz House Big Band, accepted the 2nd place trophy and an award of $2,500. (full list of Jazz House Kids winners at end)
Sponsored by RS Berkeley Musical Instruments, the Jazz House Big Band was one of only 15 high school jazz bands nationwide—out of 96 that entered – invited to the final competition this past weekend, which included three days of mentoring, jam sessions and workshops at Jazz at Lincoln Center. As one of the three top-placing bands, the Jazz House Kids Big Band performed at an evening concert with a Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member.
The 21 talented New Jersey students who comprise the Jazz House Big Band are some of the top high school jazz musicians in the nation – DownBeat Magazine student music award winners (2012 and 2013); GRAMMY Camp, Jazz Session participants (2012 and 2013); and ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Composers Award winner (2013). While the students are strong musicians across the board on their own, together as a big band they are formidable in their collaboration and collective creativity. The Jazz House Big Band has received numerous accolades including Best Big Band in the Specialized School Category at the Charles Mingus High School Competition (2011 and 2012). In 2013, the Big Band participated in the high-profile Berklee High School Jazz Festival. They were also invited to play in the internationally acclaimed Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival (2013). Jazz House Big Band participants are selected through competitive auditions and make a full year commitment to the ensemble.
Jazz House Big Band 18th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival Awards:
- Second Place – Jazz House Big Band
- Section Awards – Rhythm – Jazz House Big Band
- Outstanding Soloist Awards
1. Piano—Isaiah Thompson, (West Orange, NJ, Montclair Kimberly Academy)
2. Bass—Alex Warshawsky (Montclair, NJ, Montclair High School)
3. Guitar David Zyto (Randolph, NJ, Randolph High School)
4. Alto Saxophone – Zoe Obadia (Glen Ridge, NJ, Glen Ridge High School)
5. Alto Saxophone – Julian Lee (Montclair, NJ, Montclair High School)
6. Tenor Saxophone – Jack Ferguson (Montclair, NJ, Montclair High School)
7. Tenor Saxophone – Nathan Rice (Basking Ridge, NJ, Newark Academy)
8. Outstanding Soloist Trumpet – Wallace Roney, Jr. (Montclair, NJ, Montclair High School)
9. The Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist Award – Coleman Hughes (Montclair, NJ, Newark
The public will have an opportunity to see the Jazz House Big Band in action on Wednesday, May 22nd at 7:30 pm as they perform some of their winning Ellington pieces at Jazz House Kids’ critically-acclaimed concert and conversation program, Inside the Jazz Note® at the Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair State University. An end-of-year fundraiser for Jazz House Kids, host Christian McBride welcomes special guests Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton and Louis Hayes. Their collective six-decade careers bridge the very roots of jazz to today’s jazz scene – embodied by iconic performer Christian McBride – to its future – illustrated by the emerging musicians in the Jazz House Big Band. Tickets: www.jazzhousekids.org; 973-744-2273.