During the weekend of May 4-6, three local high school jazz bands — Roosevelt, Ballard and Mountlake Terrace — competed in New York City with 15 other bands from the United States and Canada. The students listened to the best high school jazz players, as well as the best professional musicians.
Just getting invited to the annual Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center is a big accomplishment. It gives high school bands the opportunity to work with professional mentors and provides feedback that takes them to higher levels of skill and musical expression. The journey to the festival involves a tremendous amount of dedication and long hours of individual and group rehearsal.
Despite hearing that they had already won by being there, everyone wanted to take home the first place trophy. Wynton Marsalis, founder and director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, always tells the kids that it’s okay if they feel bad about losing because it will make them work harder next time. This year, Roosevelt, Ballard and Mountlake Terrace all returned to the Northwest ready to work harder for next time. Even Roosevelt, which came in second for the second year in a row against the Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hopes to move up a notch.
“It’s hard to compete against those arts schools,” said Scott Brown, Roosevelt’s veteran band director, who has taken the group to the competition every year except one since it was opened to schools west of the Mississippi.
There were plenty of accolades given to Roosevelt, Ballard and Mountlake Terrace students, regardless of the group’s final standings. Mountlake Terrace received an outstanding award for its rhythm and reeds sections. Roosevelt received an outstanding award for its brass section and an honorable mention for rhythm.
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). Mountlake Terrace’s Taylor Griffin (piano) took home an honorable mention and Ryan Leppich (drums) an outstanding award.
For more information and to listen to the performances, visit www.jalc.org.