Monday, May 13, 2013

And the winner is..... ALLEN KANOVSKY!

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 5/13/13

....Hey! Hold up! We haven't completed the competition (Essentially Ellington). There are still 8 great bands to listen to.

I know, I know. But there was an early winner. Me. Yes me. Yesterday I was late but today (Sunday) I am early. Why?--to snag a free parking spot on 58th St.--and I do. If you think getting to park free in Manhattan isn't winning, consider this. Thurs.(Bway)$37--Fri. (JLAC evening only)$19--Sat.(JLAC noon 'til 9)$25. So now you know why I consider a free parking spot a win. The winning didn't stop there. My streak continues with my seating. In my box are two fascinating gals (yeah, yeah) both named Kate. Kate Labiak who is the band director at College Place Mall School in Washington and Kate Buker who makes a living as an Assistant District Attorney and is an avid photography hobbyist. She is there in support of Beloit High from Wisconsin. And if that ain't enuf I get to listen to the 8 bands who hadn't performed yet. That is the topping on the cake.

First up was Badger H.S. from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and under the direction of Greg Bunge. Full swing band set-up. 5sax, 4 trombone, 5 trumpet, piano, bass, guitar, drums and the first vocalist of the competition. That's not the whole story----the sax section was completely and totally female!!! The singer was a girl too, her voice a reflection of the 30's.

Next up was my adopted H.S., Dillard Center for the Arts. Mr.Christopher (uh uh--er-uh uh) Dorsey directs this outstanding band which has placed first in the last 2 competitions. Because they are my "homeys" I will exploit my position as writer of this blog, and name them. Ladies first. On trombone,Taylor Young, playing bass, Brenda Contreras and on the drums Sydney Henry. The sax section--Markus Howell, Christian Cummings, Ben Stocker, Damonn Sands and Jonathan Hainsworth. Trumpets: Christian Dorsey, Anthony Hervey, Max Boiko, Eric German and Donovan Perry. Trombones: the aforementioned Miss Young, Kim Morton, Jeremiah Joseph, Tashi Shaw and Joel Perez. At the piano and trading places, Diandre Dawkins, Ulysses McClover and Max Holm. On guitar Zachary Auslander and Connor McWilliams. Bass Miss Contreras and Christopher Mills. Drums: Sharing the spotlight Miss Henry, Zachary McKinney and Charlie Steiner.  

They concluded their performance with a rousing "2d Line" march. In regard to my referring to Mr. Dorsey as "UH UH--ER- UH UH" it is because when he was doing his opening remarks he had one of those uh uh moments, which even he thought was kind of funny.

I am sure Mr. Dorsey will let me know, with no 'ers', what he thinks of my comment.

Dillard was followed by Lexington High School JAZZ Ensemble from Lexington, Mass. under the direction of Andrew Held. Lexington also had 2 young ladies in the reeds section.

Fourth was another home-grown group from Coral Gables. FL. The Community Arts Program All-star JAZZ Ensemble. This is not a high school group but a community sponsored arts program by the City Of Coral Gables. It is under the direction of Daniel Strange. Their performance completed the morning program.

The afternoon program continued at 1PM, with the Foxboro High School JAZZ Ensemble from Foxboro Mass. which has had its share of publicity of late. Mr. Stephen Massey directs. Following was AM JAZZ Ensemble representing Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, CA and directed by Josh Murray. Next up was highly competitive Roosevelt High School JAZZ Band, under the direction of Scott Brown. There are three other performing JAZZ groups at their school in Seattle, Washington. There are young ladies at sax, trumpet and bass in the Roosevelt band. Last up was the Ellington Big Band, representing the Tucson JAZZ Institute out of (you guessed) Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson JAZZ Institute supports a total of 7 big bands. The Ellington Big Band ranks #1 amongst them. The band members come from 10 different high schools throughout Southern Arizona.  The top 3 would be announced at 4PM.

 JAZZ At Lincoln Center (JALC) is celebrating its 25th anniversary and this is the 18th year for the Essentially Ellington competition. They are planning on having 2,000 High Schools in their program in the near future. Gail May Engelberg, a member of the Board of Directors, was given an award as a founder the Essentially Ellington program. Also, there was for the first time, a competition in JAZZ composition and arranging. It is named for Gerhard W. Vosshall and is made possible by a generous gift from his family in his honor .The winner was Devon Gillingham from Transcona Collegiate in Winnipeg. M.B. Not only did he win an award, Wynton admired his jacket.

Just prior to the announcing the top 3, the judges, seated on stage gave bits of advice to the future JAZZ artists. The importance of finding a teacher, the relationship of improvisation and the sense of story. soulfulness and vibe. The importance of the clarinet to sax players. How the rhythm section is the most important of the sections and much more. The top 3 were announced, not in any particular order, JAZZ House, Roosevelt and Tucson JAZZ.

The announcement was followed with honorable mention and outstanding solo awards for individuals as selected by the judges. Then the 3 selected bands had the opportunity to perform once more with 2 selections Finally the suspense would come to and end---3d place Roosevelt High School--2d place JAZZ House Big Band----and 1st place Ellington Big Band fro Tucson, Arizona---Honorable mention went to Dillard Center for the Arts. You may have noticed that I didn't use the word winner for the 1st place band. I will tell you why. every kid, every director, every parent and every program that participated was a WINNER. And an even bigger winner were those of us who were privileged to hear these bands play.

They tried their best with outstanding performances by each and everyone. Thank you all.

The evening ended with a one set concert by the JAZZ at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Wynton Marsalas (music director/trumpet), The trumpet section: Ryan Kisor, Kenny Rampton, and Marcus Printup. The trombones: Vincent Gardner, Chris Crenshaw and Elliot Mason. Reeds: Sherman Irby, Ted Nash, Victor Goines, Walter Blanding and Joe Temperly, all of them playing at least 2 different horns. At drums, Ali Jackson, on piano, Dan Nimmer. Special Guests included James Chirillo(guitar), Philip Kuehn(bass) and Max Siegel(trombone).

During the day I ran into Rick Katz, Executive Director of the Miami JAZZ co-op and had a chance to chat about what a great event this was. A little later shared some further philosophies with "JellyRoll Justice" WWOZ, out of New Orleans, hung out with Mike and Susan Stocker who were busy shooting pix and whose son had an elongated clarinet solo on "Royal Garden Blues" with Dillard. As we were all leaving I met Russell Hall(bass) a Dillard alumni and long-time favorite of mine (since he was 13 or so). We shared a bone-crunching hug--he is kinda big--. One of the other Dillard band members asked me if I was Ben's Grand-dad. No I told him I was actually Markus Howell's grandfather. It was Markus' 18th birthday, Sunday. Heck of a Mothers Day gift. Actually I would be proud to grandfather to any of the youngsters I heard play this weekend.

An extra special thank you to everyone of the JALC staff. Starting with the courteous ushers on up to the super helpful top-brass. This young and beautiful group know what they are doing and know how to do it.

I will start with Erika Santucci who was my contact and guided me carefully(is it my age or my looks) every step of the way. Maegan McHugh, the Manager of Secondary and Higher education programs at JALC was instrumental in producing the EE event and did a superb job. Seton Hawkins is the Manager for Social Media and Educational Resources and covered all the bases. Kathleen Murray(Education Ass't) added support. Ted Stoll is the V.P of Education and plays a key role.

The Public Relations Team has Zooey T Jones as its Director and Erika is her Assistant Director. Lauren Laucher and Kimberly Armante are interns. I could not have lived through this weekend without their thoughtful kindness. Each and everyone in the P.R. group is (in order of importance or maybe not) young, beautiful, talented, knowledgeable, intelligent and helpful. Thanks, guys----I mean, gals----uh oh I did it again!!!  

Back in FL. Tuesday in time for Anniversary Party(paaaarrrtttaaaayyy) at BJB's.
Still time to check in with me if you want go to the Havana JAZZ Festival 12/15 to 12/23 with direct flight MIA to HAV on AA. 

Al's Disclaimer:
A short note: The reason I write this is because I love music and words. I do not book acts. I do not promote acts. I do not accept invitations to review artists. I go to venues of my own choice. When and where is not influenced by anything other than who I would like to hear that night or day. If I don't like what I hear, I won't write about it. When I like it I let you all know. I never mention a name without asking permission. "Pardon me, Miss. Would you like to dance?"       

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