Essentially Ellington

Sign up to Essentially Ellington with Jazz at Lincoln Center

Duke Ellington’s music is at the very heart of America’s 20th-century musical heritage and the core of the rich canon of jazz music. Jazz at Lincoln Center, committed to instilling a broader understanding of this music, created the Essentially Ellington program (EE) during the 1995–96 school year to make Ellington’s music accessible to as many high school musicians as possible and to support the development of their schools’ music programs.

The Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program provides FREE music and resources to high school jazz bands. FREE membership benefits for your high school jazz band include:

  • Download charts, videos and other resource materials
  • Access to a revolutionary interactive video featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra rehearsing each chart, courtesy of Tutti Dynamics, Inc.
  • Online resources like EE recordings, videos, and rehearsal guides

Sign up as a member of Essentially Ellington instantly here

Essentially Ellington Down Under Regional Festival

Jazz Music Institute (JMI) and Jazz at Lincoln Center are partnering to present the Essentially Ellington Down Under Regional Festival.  In 2017, the festival will be held in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, offering high school jazz bands and music directors/musicians of all sorts some excellent performance and professional development opportunities.

  • Each school must be a member of the Essentially Ellington
  • Each band will be adjudicated by a Jazz at Lincoln Center adjudicator from the US and a local adjudicator.
  • Each band will receive a private workshop with their adjudicators immediately after their performance
  • Each band will receive a recording of their performance with audio comments made by a Jazz at Lincoln Center adjudicator
  • Each band will be required to perform three (3) charts in total
    • One (1) chart must be from the Essentially Ellington library
      • The Essentially Ellington chart does not have to be from the 2016-17 season
      • You can search for charts from previous years here and request charts by contacting Jazz at Lincoln Center here


    The Essentially Ellington Down Under Regional Festival will be adjudicated using the rubric developed by Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Click here to download the adjudication criteria and rubric.

Essentially Ellington Jazz Workshops

In addition to holding a competition in each major city, there will be a FULL DAY professional development workshop with the two Jazz at Lincoln Center representatives the following day.

The Essentially Ellington Jazz Workshop is open to anyone and is not restricted to directors performing in the competition or even current teachers.  The workshop is perfect for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of jazz music and techniques for how to teach jazz to young people.

The Essentially Ellington Jazz Workshop is an excellent professional development opportunity to hear, engage and interact with two internationally renowned performers and educators.

Topics that are covered in the teachers conference include:

  • A cultural approach to teaching jazz
  • Beginning improvisation
  • Selecting big band repertoire & interpreting Ellington
  • Working with a student rhythm section

Registration Forms

2017 Jazz Workshop Registration Form

To register for the Essentially Ellington Jazz Workshops, please complete the above forms and send them through to


(All costs include GST)

Jazz Workshop (1 person) = $165
Group Registration Jazz Workshop = Buy 3 and get 1 free!

Venues and Dates

Big Band Festival

Brisbane – 10th August – Marist College Ashgrove
Perth – 13th August – Hale School
Adelaide – 16th August – Brighton Secondary School
Melbourne – 19th August – AIM Melbourne
Sydney – 22nd August – AIM Sydney

Jazz Workshop

Brisbane – 11th August – JMI Brisbane
Perth – 14th August – Hale School
Adelaide – 17th August – Brighton Secondary School
Melbourne – 20th August – AIM Melbourne
Sydney – 23rd August – AIM Sydney

Performance Times

The festival will be held from midday onwards in each city.  There are performance times available for either during school hours or after school hours, depending on your school’s preference.  You are able to specify your preferred performance time on the registration form.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Clinicians in 2017


Vincent Gardner was born in Chicago in 1972 and was raised in Hampton, Virginia. After singing, playing piano, violin, saxophone, and French horn at an early age, he decided on the trombone at age 12. He attended Florida A&M University and the University of North Florida. He soon caught the ear of Mercer Ellington, who hired Gardner for his first professional job.

After graduating from college, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, completed a world tour with Lauryn Hill in 2000, then joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Gardner has served as instructor at The Juilliard School, as visiting instructor at Florida State University and Michigan State University, and as adjunct instructor at The New School.

He has contributed many arrangements to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and other ensembles. In 2009 he was commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center to write “The Jesse B. Semple Suite,” a 60-minute suite inspired by the short stories of Langston Hughes. Gardner is featured on a number of notable recordings and has recorded five CDs as a leader for Steeplechase Records. He has performed with The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, Harry Connick, Jr., The Saturday Night Live Band, Chaka Khan, A Tribe Called Quest, and many others.

jennings_jerome_DSC_7519_Edit_crop_767_431_0_0_0_90___9240Jerome Jennings hails from Cleveland, Ohio where he began to play drums at the age of ten. Playing the drums was key to his formation as a young person teaching him discipline and eventually bringing him to the east coast where he studied music performance as an undergraduate at Rutgers-New Brunswick. He also earned a masters degree from the prestigious Juilliard School in Manhattan, where he became the first jazz studies recipient of the Morse Fellowship, a program that brings the performing arts to New York City school children.
Since moving to the east coast, Jerome has toured and recorded with legendary musicians like Sonny Rollins, Hank Jones, Christian McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, Henry Butler, and countless others. Jerome is an internationally travelled artist whose distinct sound reflects a fierce connection to the swing tradition, soul music, and hip hop. One of his current projects is playing alongside Christian McBride and Christian Sands as part of the Christian McBride’s trio. He also enjoys performing traditional hot swing music with dynamic vocalist and trumpeter, Bria Skonberg.
Jerome also has a deep investment in and passion for jazz education. He delivers interactive lectures on jazz history and performance to people of all ages through his work at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Swing University. Additionally, he works with youth through Lincoln Center’s Jazz For Young People, the Jazz House Kids Program, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Through his work as a musician and educator, Jerome is thoroughly committed to carrying the tradition and core values of jazz music onward.