Five Seattle-area bands have been selected as finalists for this year’s Essentially Ellington high-school jazz band competition in New York — the most prestigious competition in high school jazz. It marks the first time in more than a decade that any metropolitan area has sent this many bands to the competition.
The bands are from Seattle’s Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School, Mountlake Terrace High School, Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie and Seattle JazzED, a nonprofit institution unaffiliated with the Seattle school district. This is the first year the Seattle JazzED Ellington Ensemble has been selected.
In total, 18 bands were selected from among 106 groups that submitted recordings for consideration. The 18 finalists will compete May 7-9 at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The only other time since the festival began, in 1996, that any metropolitan area has sent five bands to the competition was in 2008 — and those schools were also from this region.
Seattle-area bands have dominated Essentially Ellington, often sending four bands to the finals. Roosevelt High School won first place in 2019 and, like Garfield High School, has won first place a total of four times. Mountlake Terrace High School has competed seven times, placing third twice. Mount Si High School has sent bands to the competition five times.