MTHS Jazz 1 band arrives in New York for Essentially Ellington

Chaperone Jennifer Faul smiles with junior Rio Neri, senior Dylon Rajah, sophomore Henry Smith-Hunt and senior Max Knibbe after arriving at the Hostel in the Upper West Side Wednesday night.

Countless after-school rehearsals, long hours of practice, memorization, solo changes and over 7 months of class collaboration have led Jazz 1 to their performance at Essentially Ellington in New York.

The 22nd Annual Essentially Ellington (EE) Competition & Festival competition at Lincoln Center in New York has been a jazz central since its very beginning in 1995 for high school jazz musicians. Originally contained to New York schools, EE expanded its reach starting in 2006 to more and more high schools. Submissions to the competition are now received from over 4,000 schools nationwide.

Terrace’s Jazz 1 is one of 15 high school jazz bands selected to compete in New York.

The band arrived at Sea-Tac Airport at 5 a.m. with bags full and their instruments strapped tightly into their cases.

“At this point, it’s surreal that we’re actually going,” senior Selena Williams commented. “We haven’t processed that this is actually happening.”

However, once the band saw the jazz performance center Rose Hall and entered Times Square that night, the excitement came through in the students’ faces.

MTHS and regional competitors Edmonds-Woodway and Mount Si high schools were also selected to participate in EE. Mount Si will be performing on Friday, with Edmonds-Woodway and Mountlake Terrace following them on Saturday.

Saturday afternoon, the top three bands will be chosen for a final concert to determine the order of their placement in the competition.

All performances can be watched live from

Until then, Jazz 1 will be rehearsing, performing in jam sessions and interacting with professional jazz performers such as renowned trumpet player and founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis.

–By Harper Thomas, The Hawkeye

This story and photos were provided through a collaboration between and The MTHS Hawkeye, which has sent two student journalists to cover the Jazz I band competition at Essentially Ellington featuring two Edmonds School District bands.

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