Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Jazz Band Wins in New York; Douglas Anderson Ensemble Flies High at Lincoln Center

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Jazz Band Wins in New York; Douglas Anderson Ensemble Flies High at Lincoln Center

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

They duked it out with the best high school jazz bands in the country.

A jam session with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, a live concert on the Fox News Channel with legendary jazz artist Wynton Marsalis and a little hoop time with him in a New York City recording studio rounded out the weekend.

Somewhere in the middle, Jacksonville's Douglas Anderson School of the Arts' 24-piece Jazz I Ensemble beat 14 other bands to win the 11th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition at Lincoln Center.

The ensemble also brought home awards for best trumpet solo by Jeron Fruge, best trombone solo by Corey Wilcox, best trombone by T.J. Norris, best trumpet section, best trombone section and best pep band.

The ensemble is flying high after its May 20 performance impressed judges, said senior drummer Jamison Ross, who was also in the ensemble when it competed at Essentially Ellington two years ago and didn't make the final three.

"We worked so hard to get there, and we peaked on stage, and it was fun. When we got off stage, the feeling we had after the performance was something we would never forget," Ross said. "We could never imagine we could place in the finals."

The ensemble was in the groove during its performance, said audience member and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra spokesman Scott Thompson. He added that Marsalis, who started the competition, was "smiling -- and he's hard to please."

"I knew immediately there was something special about these guys," Thompson said. "The one who grabbed me was the drummer [Ross] in the bright red tie. And when they were done, you knew they were in the fight."

Edward "Duke" Ellington was one of the nation's greatest jazz composers and performers, known best for his ability to combine different instrumental styles and improvisations. Marsalis became the first jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize in music in 1997. He is also the music director of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Schools that want to compete can pick three of the six Ellington compositions transcribed from original recordings by the Jazz at Lincoln Center program, then perform them in a way that best reflects his style. This year's selections were Across the Track Blues, All Too Soon, Braggin' in Brass, Idiom '59 -- Part II , I'm Just a Lucky So and So, and Latin American Sunshine.

More than 900 bands paid a $60 fee to receive the compositions, and 97 submitted compact discs with their renditions. Jazz education experts picked the 15 finalists based on soulfulness, rhythm section, soloing/improvisation, interpretation and basic musicianship.

For the second time in two years, Douglas Anderson ensemble leader Ace Martin's band was one of the 15 picked for the contest May 18-20. Workshops, rehearsals and a question-and-answer session with Marsalis filled the first day. …

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