The Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival is March 25


This education-focused festival is designed to offer high school jazz bands the opportunity to perform the music of Duke Ellington and other seminal big band composers. This is the 32nd annual festival and it will take place Saturday, March 25, in the Greenwich High School Performing Arts Center.

This year, over a dozen high school bands will participate and receive professional feedback from Jazz at Lincoln Center clinicians and other jazz professionals. According to John Yoon, “This is a great opportunity for the community to come and enjoy America’s Music. It is not often that you get to enjoy world class music without having to travel out of the area.” The Greenwich community and all in attendance will enjoy top notch high school jazz bands in addition to an exhibition performance by the judges, who are all world class educators and musicians.

The music will begin at 11 a.m. Each band will perform for approximately 30 minutes. The program will conclude with a Judges’ Exhibition Performance at 6:30 p.m., followed by an awards presentation.

An admission ticket ($10 adults, $5 children & seniors) allows attendees to enter and exit, at their convenience, for the entire day. While at the show there will be a wide selection of refreshments such as deli sandwiches and baked goods. Proceeds from ticket and refreshment sales will help to support future competitive band programs and trips.

Participants & Schedule

In Competition:

11 a.m. Greenwich H.S. Jazz Lab Band – John S. Yoon, Director
11:30 a.m. St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute Jazz Band – Russell Owens, Director
12 p.m.White Plains H.S. Jazz Band– Zachary May Director
12:30 p.m. Celia Cruz H.S. of Music Jazz Band– Penelope Smetters-Jacono, Director
1 p.m. Hamden H.S. Jazz Ensemble, Aaron Barkon, Director
1:30 p.m. West Babylon H.S. Jazz Band – Matthew Scott, Director

2 p.m. Break

2:30 p.m. East Catholic H.S. Jazz Ensemble– David Brudz, Director
3 p.m.Darien H.S. Jazz Band – Jonathan Grauer, Director
3:30 p.m. Boston Latin School Jazz Band – Paul J. Pitts, Director
4 p.m. Harrison H.S. Sirius Jazz Workshop – Charles Briem, Director
4:30 p.m. Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Big Band – Matt Butterman, Director
5 p.m. Lynbrook H.S. Jazz Ensemble– Brian White, Director
5:30 p.m. Staples H.S. Jazz Band– Nick Mariconda, Director

In Exhibition:

6 p.m. Greenwich H.S. Jazz Ensemble – John S. Yoon, Director
6:30 p.m. Judges’ Exhibition
7 p.m. Awards: Outstanding Soloists, Outstanding Sections, Outstanding Band Performance

Master of Ceremonies: Rick Petrone

Judges: Musicians and Educators

Justin DiCiccio, Drums: Associate Dean of Manhattan School of Music since 2011. He is internationally recognized as one of the foremost jazz educators of our time. His inventive approach as an educator has earned him the title “the musician’s teacher.” He was named Chair of MSM’s Jazz Arts Program (1999). Mr. DiCiccio was inducted into the Jazz Education Hall of Fame, has served as program director and clinician for Carnegie Hall Jazz Education, acts as a consultant to Jazz at Lincoln Center and Wynton Marsalis and is conductor of the Grammy Jazz Ensemble. In addition, he developed and directed the LaGuardia HS of Music, Art, and the Performing Art”s jazz program, the first fully accredited one of its kind on the secondary school level in the United States. Mr. DiCioccio’s performing and conducting credentials include concerts, commercials, Broadway shows, recordings with jazz, orchestral, rock and new music groups. He also served as the official White House drummer during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Over the years he has worked with acclaimed artists, including Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, Chuck Mangione, Phil Woods, Stan Getz and Clark Terry, just to name a few.

Ralph Lalama, Tenor Saxophone: Three time Grammy winner through his work in the Joe Lovano Nonet and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. A solid fixture in the New York jazz scene and respected world-wide, Ralph Lalama embodies the best of the jazz sound ideal – great time, great swing, expressed through great melodic ideas. But on top of being a great jazz soloist, he is equally a solid veteran of jazz ensembles and orchestras. Over his impressive career starting with Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Mel Lewis Orchestra now the Vanguard Orchestra – he has honed the craft of sonic blending. Ralph Lalama’s playing reveals an enormous depth of musical heart and knowledge. Mr. Lalama has a masterful ability to tell a story through his horn, connecting with musicians, students and listeners alike.

Bob Stewart, Tuba: Over the last 40 years has established himself as both an innovative tuba player and equally creative jazz educator. Mr. Stewart’s focus on reintroducing the Tuba into a contemporary band setting has encouraged many tuba players and band leaders to explore this approach. He works with Jazz at Lincoln Center as an educational consultant, advisor to the Rhythm Road Project and has helped to created curriculum for the Middle School Jazz Academy. Mr. Stewart has been honored to serve as a panelist for the New York State Council of the Arts, worked as a consultant for the JazzMobile, and was a clinician for the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp in New Orleans. As a band leader, recording artist and featured soloist his playing has been featured on over 80 recordings. Mr. Stewart has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Gil Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Charlie Haden, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Carla Bley, Wynton Marsalis, Lester Bowie, Frank Foster, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin to name a few. While concertizing and touring both in the United States and internationally, Bob Stewart maintains a faculty position as professor of Jazz History at The Juilliard School. In 2012, Mr. Stewart established “The Annual Bob Stewart Tuba Competition” to inspire tuba players to lead their own ensembles helping to establish new tuba repertoire.

Pharez Whitted, Trumpet: Is currently the jazz director of Chicago’s Youth Symphony Orchestra, and works with Jazz at Lincoln Center and Ravinia’s Jazz Scholar Program. He has performed throughout the United States and overseas, including shows at the 1988 Presidential Inauguration, The Arsenio Hall Show, The Billboard Music Awards, Carnegie Hall and the MoTown Music Showcase. Mr. Whitted has performed with such jazz musicians as Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, George Duke, Kirk Whalum, Evin Jones, Slide Hampton, John Mellencamp, The Temptations, Roy Meriwether, the O’Jays, Lou Rawls, Ramsey Lewis, and former Tonight Show bassist and his classmate Bob Hurst. Mr. Whitted has produced, co-produced, arranged and played on a number of albums. January 2011 Pharez Whitted was nominated for the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards in the Jazz Album category for his third album Transient Journey.

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