Jazz Ensemble Among Top Winners in Essentially Ellington Competition

Students playing musical instruments on stage

New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble returned home to Miami victorious once again as it captured Third Place from the prestigious Essentially Ellington (EE) High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival, coupled with nine other individual and section awards. The honors, for which the Jazz Ensemble competed in May, came accompanied by a $1,000 cash award. Along with intensive jazz training and mentoring by some of the world’s most distinguished jazz artists and nationwide peer collaboration, the NWSA Jazz Ensemble had the opportunity to “come together and rely on each other as a team to express and execute mastery over their pieces,” said Dr. Daniel Andai, dean of music at NWSA.

In more than two decades, New World School of the Arts has participated in the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival a dozen times, including 2023. The group has placed in the top three on seven occasions – 1st, and 2nd twice, and 3rd place three times.

Dr. Andai highlighted, “We at NWSA are proud of the students who form the NWSA High School Jazz Ensemble, and their director, Jim Gasior, for being acknowledged at the Essentially Ellington Competition for their talent and dedication to jazz. The results of this public performance and competition stand as a testament to the vision and mission we support at NWSA. The curriculum and day-to-day work that goes into encouraging, nurturing, and cultivating young artists, to incorporate discipline and responsibility for the team and themselves, is a tremendously valuable lesson that merges into other parts of the students’ lives. These opportunities bring out the best in us and shed light on areas for continued growth. This level of education and rigor is exactly what we like to infuse our students with – it unifies the ensemble and permeates into other areas of our school.”

The NWSA High School Jazz Ensemble received a total of nine recognitions in the categories of Outstanding Rhythm Section and Outstanding Saxophone Section. Individual students were also recognized in Honorable Mention Piano, Outstanding Alto Saxophone, Outstanding Tenor Saxophone, Outstanding Trombone and Honorable Mention Trumpet – with student Andre Perlman winning in two categories.

The NWSA High School Jazz Ensemble and the other two top-winning bands were chosen by a panel of judges comprised of distinguished jazz musicians and historians, including Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis, jazz arranger and composer Francisco Torres, top jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton, Essentially Ellington alum and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra bass player, Carlos Henriquez, and saxophonist, composer, and Essentially Ellington alum Alexa Tarantino. Three top winners were selected from a total of fifteen jazz bands finalists.

Over 2000 schools requested and received the music from Essentially Ellington to participate in the 28th Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Competition and Festival, 112 decided to send in recordings to be selected, 15 placed as Finalists and three as top winners. List of 28th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival Winners.

Numerous New World School of the Arts jazz students have been recognized for their musicianship on a national scale. NWSA students have also received Downbeat Student Music Awards, YoungArts talent search awards, and have been selected to perform with the NWSA High School Grammy Band in Los Angeles, California. Information about New World School of the Arts music division at 305-237-3622.

A Florida center of excellence in the visual and performing arts, New World School of the Arts is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College, and University of Florida. NWSA provides a comprehensive program of artistic, creative, and academic development through a curriculum that reflects our community and the rich multicultural state of Florida. Through our partners NWSA confers the high school diploma, Associate of Arts degree, and Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees in programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater and Art & Design. NWSA’s rigorous eight-year curriculum and conservatory-style teaching has empowered students in our community and our nation to become leaders in the arts for more three decades.

Information about New World School of the Arts at 305-237-3135 or nwsa.mdc.edu.