Newark Academy, a private school in Livingston, N.J., came in second at the 23rd Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition, held over the weekend at Frederick P. Rose Hall in Manhattan. The band, led by Julius Tolentino, took home a trophy and a $2,500 award.
Taking first place was Dillard Center for the Arts, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. In third place was Tucson Jazz Institute from Tucson, Ariz. Honorable mention awards went to Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, Wis.) and Roosevelt High School (Seattle, Wa).
A total of 15 high school bands took part in the Essentially Ellington finals, which included workshops and jam sessions along with the competition. The program, a crown jewel of the education department at Jazz at Lincoln Center, reaches high schools across the country.
Here is a video of Newark Academy's opening tune, a version of "Chinoiserie," from The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. (It begins with a bass solo by Vikram Bala.)
In addition to the second-place honors, Newark Academy garnered a number of awards in the individual categories. Samantha Powell was recognized for Outstanding Vocals, along with three other singers. Cosimo Fabrizio was one of three players to win Outstanding Guitar. Teddy McGraw was among the five recipients of Outstanding Drums, and Allen Zhu was one of the nine recipients of Outstanding Tenor Saxophone. And Bala received Honorable Mention, Bass.
For more information about Essentially Ellington, visit the official website at Jazz at Lincoln Center.