Essentially Ellington

A free program for high school jazz bands, Essentially Ellington aims to elevate musicianship, broaden perspectives and inspire performance.

News & Updates


Though an in-person event may not be possible this year, Essentially Ellington is proud to announce that most elements of our annual Competition & Festival will be maintained in virtual form – free and accessible to the public – the week of June 8-12. For a full schedule of events, including a finalist student Q & A with Wynton, the much anticipated Cheer Tunnel, band performances and interviews, an awards ceremony and more, please visit jazz.org/ee25.

The following bands were selected as finalists for the 25th annual Essentially Ellington Festival:

  • Agoura High School (Agoura Hills, CA), directed by Chad Bloom
  • Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, WI), directed by Chris Behrens
  • Byron Center High School (Byron Center, MI), directed by Marc Townley
  • Carroll Senior High School (Southlake, TX), directed by David Lown
  • Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music (Bronx, NY), directed by Penelope Smetters-Jacono
  • Denver School of the Arts (Denver, CO), directed by Dave Hammond
  • Dillard Center for the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL), directed by Christopher Dorsey
  • Garfield High School (Seattle, WA), directed by Jared Sessink
  • Memphis Central High School (Memphis, TN), directed by Dr. Ollie Liddell
  • Mountlake Terrace High School (Mountlake Terrace, WA), directed by Darin Faul
  • Mount Si High School (Snoqualmie, WA), directed by William Leather
  • New World School of the Arts (Miami, FL), directed by Jim Gasior
  • Plano West Senior High School (Plano, TX), directed by Preston Pierce
  • Rio Americano High School (Sacramento, CA), directed by Josh Murray
  • Roosevelt High School (Seattle, WA), directed by Scott Brown
  • Seattle JazzED Ellington Ensemble (Seattle, WA), directed by Kelly Clingan
  • Tarpon Springs High School (Tarpon Springs, FL), directed by Christopher M. De León
  • Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble (Raleigh, NC), directed by Dr. Gregg Gelb

And joining us from around the world, the following bands will also participate as representatives of the thousands of young people across the globe who participate in this program:

  • La Jazz Band del Amadeo Roldán de la Habana (Havana, Cuba)
  • Blackburn High School Senior Jazz Orchestra (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Sant Andreu Jazz Band (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Tomisato High School Jazz Orchestra of Tomisato High School (Chiba, Japan)
  • Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra (Edinburgh, Scotland)