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

Accessing Essentially Ellington Charts

Once you’ve signed up as a member, you can access the eight charts available for the 2017-18 Essentially Ellington collection by clicking on the “Sheet Music” tab in the members section.

You can also access any chart from the Essentially Ellington library from previous years.  The list of charts in the library is available here.  To get these charts, e-mail Maegan Kelly from Jazz at Lincoln Center and request the chart.

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 2018, 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 2017-18 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 Teachers 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

Please download and complete the forms below to register for the Festival.

2018 Big Band Registration Form

2018 Jazz Workshop Registration Form


Big Band Registration – 3rd August 2018

Jazz Workshop Registration – 17th August 2018


(All costs include GST)

Big Band Registration = $330
Big Band Registration + Teachers Workshop = $440
Teachers Workshop (1 person) = $165
Group Registration Teachers Workshop = Buy 3 and get 1 free!

2018 Venues and Dates

Big Band Festival

Brisbane – 23rd Aug –  Marist College Ashgrove
Perth – 26th Aug – TBA
Adelaide – 29th Aug – Brighton Secondary School
Melbourne – 1st Sept – AIM Melbourne
Sydney – 5th Sept – Sydney Conservatorium

Jazz Workshop

Brisbane – 24th Aug – JMI Brisbane
Perth – 27th Aug – TBA
Adelaide – 30th Aug – Brighton Secondary School
Melbourne – 2nd Sept – AIM Melbourne
Sydney – 4th Sept – Sydney Conservatorium

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 2018


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.

Second clinician to be announced soon!