Decades after he was first invited to perform at the annual Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival at Lincoln Center in New York, the song remains much the same for the Foxboro High School Jazz Ensemble.
Sharing the stage last weekend with 14 other high school jazz bands from across the country, the FHS Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Aaron Bush, finished behind the Osceola School for the Arts in Kissimmee, Florida.
Foxboro’s runner-up trophy came with a $2,500 prize to be used to improve high school jazz instruction programs.
Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, Calif., took third place.
This year’s performance marked the 20th time in the festival’s 27-year history that Foxboro has been selected for Ellington’s 15 finals. top groups on nine other occasions, including last year.
In addition to winning the Ellington Contest in 1997, Foxboro received runner-up honors in 1998, 2004, and 2022; ranked third in 2007, 2010 and 2019; and earned an honorable mention in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Accepting the runner-up award at Saturday’s ceremony, Bush said Duke Ellington’s music continues to resonate in American culture, celebrating diversity and giving listeners the opportunity to create an individual voice.
“Thank you to all of our supporters back home in Foxboro,” Bush concluded. “Thank you to our administration and, above all, thank you to the Foxboro High School Jazz Ensemble. I love you all very deeply.
In addition to overall second place, Foxboro was recognized for its outstanding brass and saxophone sections as well as five local musicians nominated for soloist awards.
They included guitarist Ben Carter and trombonist Sean Kelly, both seniors who won honorable mention awards, and fellow senior Cameron Shave, who was named one of the festival’s outstanding performers on trumpet.
They also included Foxboro junior Emma Lacy, who received the “Outstanding Doubler” award for her virtuosity on clarinet and alto sax, as well as the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist Award as the festival’s best individual performer – the second year consecutively, she was single out for this honor.
When announcing Lacy as the 2022 Fitzgerald Laureate, jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, executive and artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center, noted that she displayed stylistic flourishes on various instruments, as well as harmonic clarity, a sophistication, a soul, an intelligence and a “personal poetic sense.
“What can we say – we’re ready to give her a gig,” smiled Marsalis, inviting the young musician to a thunderous ovation from her assembled peers.
After giving Lacy time to return to her seat in the auditorium, Marsalis went on to recall the impact she had on the jury, especially Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Joe Lovano.
“I also want Emma to know that Joe Lovano insisted on [selecting her for the Ella Fitzgerald award],” he said. “He said, ‘Look, he’s someone who’s serious about acting.
“And when we started talking about you, we were all unanimous in our understanding of the level of your game – the consistency, the intelligence, the depth and the passion of it. So congratulations.
Commenting on this week’s experience, Lacy said she was especially grateful that the Ellington Festival had strengthened the bonds between the band members.
“It was an honor to be on a stage that so many great musicians had played before me,” she said, adding, “there was no one else I would rather have played with. .”
Throughout the weekend program, the 15 finalist bands were immersed in mentorship, jam sessions and workshops. The competition culminated with Saturday night’s concert on the iconic Jazz at Lincoln Center stage, where each top-ranked band performed with their chosen Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member as a soloist.
For Shave, that meant exchanging licks with Kenny Rampton of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, not to mention enjoying the atmosphere and spirit of support shared by young musicians across the country.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life before,” he said. “It was really inspiring to see the amount of hard work and incredible bands and these musicians and these people. There was a really encouraging atmosphere and spirit.
Cami Tedoldi, music director for K-12 at Foxboro Schools, said last weekend’s performance was emotionally charged, given what the young musicians had endured during the COVID pandemic. -19.
“I am so thrilled and proud of our students and their teachers for all they have achieved,” Tedoldi said this week. “Their dedication, hard work and commitment provide them with these incredible life-changing opportunities.”
His remarks echoed Marsalis’ final statement at the awards show, when he asked student musicians to reflect on what their respective band managers had endured in order to continue music programming during the pandemic.
“I want you to think about how difficult it has been in these 2 and a half years to maintain the momentum of the program, to keep you engaged and to continue to work with the administration of the school, with the parents , to be an adviser and a friend,” he said, prompting a 10-minute standing ovation. “I want you to think about the depth of what they’ve given you – what they want for you goes way beyond a festival and an award.”
There will be two more opportunities to hear the FHS Jazz Ensemble this year, the first being a performance on Wednesday, May 11 highlighting the Foxboro Music Assoc Annual Meeting. Spring Jazz Festival. This concert, featuring guest artist Tucker Antell, begins at 7 p.m. and will be held in the high school auditorium.
The Jazz Ensemble will make its final public performance on Thursday, June 9 to launch the 2022 Foxboro Jaycees Concerts on the Common series. This concert is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Common bandstand.