TYJE Competes 2018 essentially ellington high school jazz band competition

Written by Bill Rinehart

On Sunday morning, May 13, student musicians from TYJE (Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble, Raleigh, NC) returned from an intense and invigorating weekend of competing in the 2018 Essentially Ellington (EE) High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival in New York City.

After enjoying an after hours set of big band jazz played by Nate Sparks Big Band at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola on Wednesday night, the students arrived early Thursday morning at the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex for an intensive series of small group clinics with Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) Orchestra members, led by Wynton Marsalis. Here, JALC drummer Jason Marsalis and JALC bassist Carlos Henriques coached pianist Jonah Smith, bassist Thomas Owens, drummer Will Snider and guitarist Max Kitching on the finer points of playing in a big band rhythm section.

On Thursday afternoon the entire band came together at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola to be rehearsed by Tatum Greenblatt, lead trumpet player with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Thursday evening TYJE students gathered with their fellow competitor bands for a dinner and jam session in the Appel Room, a spectacular performance venue overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. Here, tenor saxophonist Roland Burnot solos on “Lester Leaps In” with students from EE competitor bands.

Friday afternoon TYJE kicked off the EE competition by playing first of the 15 bands entered. Here the band poses in front of the JALC sign.

The band played three tunes, Liza by George Gershwin, Banquet Scene by Duke Ellington, and Ain’t Got Nothin But the Blues also by Duke Ellington to rousing applause by the sold out crowd in the Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Four TYJE students were awarded special prizes by JALC director Wynton Marsalis at the conclusion of the competition:

Will Snider, Honorable Mention for Drums. Will is a graduating senior from Cary Academy, Cary NC, and will attend University of Colorado at Boulder to study music.

Eric Law for Outstanding Alto Saxophone. Eric is a graduating senior from Cedar Ridge High School, Hillsborough NC, and will attend Michigan State University to study music.

Emerson Borg Honorable Mention for Trumpet. He is a junior at Enloe High School, Raleigh, NC.

Emma Lanford for Outstanding Vocals. Emma is a graduating senior at Woods Charter School, Chatham County NC, and will attend Harvard University and Berklee College of Music as part of a special 5 year degree program in liberal arts and music between the two institutions.

The TYJE thanks the Irregardless Cafe for their generous support over the past three years that TYJE has competed in the EE festival.

The students are already planning their return in 2019!

Please come and see the TYJE play their final date of the season at Cary’s Booth Ampitheater, Cary NC, on Sunday June 3 at 3pm as part of the Philharmonic Association’s (PA) 30th year anniversary celebration. In addition to the TYJE, all PA bands will perform at the concert.

Here is a slideshow of the student’s trip: