New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble Finalist in the 27th Essentially Ellington Competition

Jazz students playing instruments

Led by New World School of the Arts Associate Professor of Jazz & Instrumental Studies, Jim Gasior, the NWSA Jazz Ensemble will return to compete in the prestigious Essentially Ellington (EE) High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival on Festival, May 5 – 7, 2022, in New York City. The Ensemble placed among the 15 finalist bands to participate in the 27th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition earlier this month.

Selected from Jazz at Lincoln Center‘s Essentially Ellington library, the NWSA Jazz Ensemble recorded and submitted Smada; The Shepherd; and Trombonio-Bustoso-Issimo, all by Duke Ellington for this year’s competition. Among the judges who selected the 15 winning bands was Steve Fidyk, Joseph Jefferson, Erica von Kleist, and Tatum Greenblatt. They judged the performances based on the categories of Soulfulness, Rhythm Section, Soloing/Improvisation, Interpretation and Basic Musicianship/Technique.

In the last twenty-three years, New World School of the Arts has participated in Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival fourteen times, placing in the top three on six occasions. “It’s an amazing opportunity! We’re so excited to celebrate in-person learning with the invitation to compete in the in-person Essentially Ellington competition and festival!” said Gasior.

Throughout March and April, Jazz at Lincoln Center will send, free of charge, a professional jazz musician to each of the 15 finalist band schools to lead an intensive day-long workshop of rehearsals, lessons, and masterclasses. The free clinics are part of the rich decades-long history of this unique music education program, which has reached thousands of high school students across all 50 United States, Canada, and American schools abroad. Then for three days in May, participating students will have the opportunity to partake in workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals, and performances at the “House of Swing,” Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

On May 7, the Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival will conclude with a concert and awards ceremony featuring the three top-placing bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble, along with the other finalists, will compete in the prestigious Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival for the coveted first place. 

With a BM in Studio Music and Jazz Performance and an MM in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Miami, Jim Gasior is a successful jazz and commercial pianist, composer, and arranger. He has recorded and/or performed with Ricky Martin, Kelly Clarkson, Alih Jey, Michael Bolton, Smokey Robinson, Patti Austin, Little Richard, Chayanne, Ed Calle, Arturo Sandoval, Duffy Jackson, Freddie Hubbard, Duffy Jackson and others.

In addition to this highest honor, the NWSA Jazz Ensemble has competed against other outstanding high school Jazz bands from across the nation proudly bringing home the coveted first-place title of the 2008 Savannah Music Festival’s (SMF) Swing Central High School Jazz Band Competition. In 2010 the NWSA Jazz Ensemble participated in the Thelonious Monk Institute national Peer-To-Peer Jazz Education Program, joining other students from across the nation. Moreover, the jazz musicians had the honor of representing South Florida as they participated in Jazz Studio, a music series initiative held at The White House, also in 2010. 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, Young Arts talent search awards, and have been selected to perform with the NWSA High School Grammy Band in Los Angeles, California. 

New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts, is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College, and University of Florida. More about New World School of the Arts at Information about the NWSA Music Division at 305-237-3539.