The Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition, a flagship initiative of Jazz at Lincoln Center, draws many dozens of aspiring musicians to New York every spring, for an event both inspiring and entertaining. I caught a portion of the competition last year, when the winner was Garfield High, a perennial favorite from Seattle, Wa.
This year’s throwdown is scheduled for May 12 to 14 at Frederick P. Rose Hall. Jazz at Lincoln Center just announced the finalists, and one twist is Garfield’s conspicuous absence, for the first time since 2001. (If this is beginning to sound like college football rankings, you have some idea of the intensity with which these bands and boosters approach their task.) Anyway, here are the 15 bands advancing to the finals:
Now online: this month’s column, about the NEA Jazz Masters, the Marsalis Family, and what I believe to be a certain lapse in judgment. I should note that I filed my copy to JazzTimes on Aug. 10, a few weeks before the hullabaloo caused by saxophonist Phil Woods, who announced his boycott of all future NEA Jazz Masters events. (Peter Hum covered this well over at Jazzblog.ca.)
When the Woods grievance hit the airwaves, I piped up on Twitter that I disagreed with his actions but had to acknowledge that he had a point. In response, guitarist-composer Anthony Wilson wrote this (I’ll collapse hisserialinstallments into one statement):