EWHS music director provides details about NYC jazz competition

Mike Dechant playing soprano saxophone; photo credit Linda Freyd.
Student Mike Dechant playing soprano saxophone; photo credit Linda Freyd.

Jake Bergevin, EWHS Director of Music, recently answered questions regarding Jazz Ensemble I’s designation as a finalist in the Jazz at Lincoln Center competition.

My Edmonds News: What are you doing to prepare the EWHS Jazz Ensemble I for the competition?

J.B.: Not sure what we’ll play yet. We auditioned with “Blood Count,” “The Peanut Vendor,” and “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.”

My Edmonds News: Who will be the soloists?

J.B.: Key soloists include seniors Max Bennett, Mike Dechant, Jack Roben, Anthony McIntosh, Miles Laven, Carson Lipscomb, Jackson Mindt, Cory Franklin and some wonderful underclassmen too.

My Edmonds News: What advice do you have for your band?

J.B.: Never give up!  Practice only on the days that you eat.

My Edmonds News: Anything else that you want folks to know?

J.B.: We are thrilled to have such a supportive booster organization that can help offset the cost of an expensive trip like this.  Our Gala for the Music Boosters is scheduled for April 13 at the new Holy Rosary event center.  We would be very happy to have supporters attend and contribute to this Booster event that raises thousands each year for scholarships, financial aid, additional coaching and much more.

Note: Bergevin also provided the following announcement.

J.B.: Congratulations to the members of Edmonds-Woodway High School Jazz Ensemble I! Yesterday I got a call for Jazz at Lincoln Center notifying us that EWHS is one of 15 finalists selected to participate in the Essentially Ellington Jazz Band Competition and Festival held in NYC on May 9-12 (i.e. the Super Bowl of Jazz Competitions). Among other highlights, the group will get to meet and hear Wynton Marsalis and attend workshops with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members.

This is the highest honor possible for high school jazz ensembles. This is our 4th time that we’ve been selected (2003, 2007, 2010 & 2013).  This year, the contest was reformatted to limit participation to 3 schools per large geographic region {Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming (Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Yukon Territory)}. Furthermore, the J@LC organization abolished a former rule making it more challenging for previous winners to qualify so that community bands, past winners and all were able to apply on an even playing field. My take on this was that it would make our challenge even greater.

The students spend a good deal of energy and frustration trying to get their sound similar to one of the greatest professional performing groups of all time. Ellington’s band was on the road for over 50 years. I admire the students for their dedication to the their craft and for the single minded focus to aim for excellence. Huge thanks to the musicians, our supportive administration including Principal Miriam Mickelson, program manager Scott Barnes and our amazing EW Music Booster Club.

Wish us luck as we continue to prepare for our bite of the Big Apple!


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