It was another successful trip to New York for the Medfield High School Jazz Band.
At the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition this past weekend, MHS jazz band member and senior Kabir Thatte had the thrill of being congratulated by jazz great and Ellington judge Wynton Marsalis for earning the outstanding soloist award for vibraphone. In addition, sophomore Alex Rosenfeld received an honorable mention for trumpet.
The awards ceremony at Lincoln Center’s renowned Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday, May 6, capped off a weekend of workshops and competitions, including the Medfield jazz band's performance on Saturday, May 5. The competition was judged by Marsalis and four other jazz luminaries. Medfield High School was one of just 15 jazz bands from across the U.S. and Canada to be selected for Essentially Ellington, considered to be the “Super Bowl” of high school jazz competitions.
Taking home the top Essentially Ellington award was Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Medfield band performed three songs in the competition: “A Night in Tunisia” and “Things to Come,” both by Dizzy Gillespie, and “The Mooche” by Duke Ellington. “Things to Come” was the performance that provided Thatte with the chance to showcase his vibraphone talents.
“The band played exceptionally well,” said Doug Olsen, Medfield Music Director. “They poured their hearts out through their instruments, and the audience responded.”
This is the third time under Olsen’s leadership that the Medfield High School jazz band has been named an Essentially Ellington finalist. Medfield was a finalist in 2008 and 2005.
Supporting Olsen this year was Reggie Thomas, the Jazz at Lincoln Center mentor, who coached the Medfield Jazz Band at the high school one night last month. At the Essentially Ellington competition, Thomas was in the audience to cheer the students on.
“As I listened to the group on Saturday, I was struck by the growth of the band from the time I had worked with them," Thomas said. "The introduction to ‘A Night in Tunisia,’ for example, was much more focused with a clearer musical purpose. The band really took suggestions to heart and developed a more musical intent."
Said Thatte: “The award announcement was the most incredible – and unexpected – moment in my life. I never imagined a situation where just hearing my name would give me so much happiness."
Rosenfeld noted that while his trumpet award provided a tangible way to recognize all the hard work he and the other band members put into preparing for the weekend, the MHS sophomore said, “just being at Ellington was enough of a reward.”
The Jazz at Lincoln Center 2012 performance webcast has been archived, but is accessible until approximately May 15. It can be viewed at http://www.jalc.org/essentiallyellington2012. (Medfield’s performance is included in the “day one” link.)
If you haven't seen the jazz band perform yet, you will have a chance to do so right here in Medfield on May 30. Anyone can witness the talents of the award-winning jazz band at its annual Jazz Night at 7 p.m. on Wednesday May 30. The night will feature Grammy-nominated New York trombonist Conrad Herwig.
Jazz Night will be held at the Medfield High School Lowell Mason Auditorium, and is presented by Needham Bank. The night also features the high school Jazz Band 2 and Jazz Choir, and the Blake Middle School Jazz Band.
Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for seniors and students. They can be purchased at Lord’s and the Medfield branch of Needham Bank, through the Medfield Music Association (www.medfieldmusicassociation.com) or online at http://medfieldmusicassociation.givezooks.com/events/medfield-jazz-night-2012. (Tickets purchased online are $12 for all due to processing charges.)