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 2020, 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.

To enter the festival, you need to be a member of Essentially Ellington. As a participant of the festival, each group will:

  • be adjudicated by a Jazz at Lincoln Center adjudicator
  • receive a private workshop with their adjudicator immediately after their performance
  • receive a recording of their performance with audio comments made by a Jazz at Lincoln Center adjudicator
  • 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 festival 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 Teacher Workshop is open to anyone and is not restricted to directors performing in the festival.  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 Teacher Workshop is an excellent professional development opportunity to hear, engage and interact with two internationally renowned performers and educators.

There will be sessions in this workshop where the Jazz at Lincoln Center representatives will work with a high school big band and rhythm section, working through rehearsal techniques and giving attendees first-hand experiences of the techniques used to improve ensemble blending and dynamics, articulation and stylistic approaches.

Topics that are covered in the teachers conference include:

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

Accessing Essentially Ellington Charts

Once you’ve signed up as a member, you can access the eight charts available for the 2018-19 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 the Essentially Ellington team at Jazz at Lincoln Center ee@jazz.org and request the chart.

Registration Forms

Registration forms for Essentially Ellington Down Under 2020 can be downloaded here:


2020 Big Band Registration Form

2020 Teachers Workshop Registration Form


Big Band Registration = $350 per band

Teacher Workshop registration = $150 per person*

Big Band Registration + 1 Teacher Workshop registration = $450

*Discounted price of $100 per registration for 4 or more Teacher Workshop registrations

2020 Dates

Big Band Festival

Sydney – Hosted by the Sydney Conservatorium
8th & 9th August – Sydney Conservatorium

13th August – Marist College Ashgrove

Perth – Hosted by WA Schools Jazz Festival
16th August – TBA

19th August – Brighton Secondary School

22nd & 23rd August – AIM Melbourne

Teacher Workshop

Sydney – Hosted by the Sydney Conservatorium
10th August 10am to 4pm – Sydney Conservatorium

14th August 10am to 4pm – JMI

Perth – Hosted by WA Schools Jazz Festival
17th August 10am to 4pm – TBA

20th August 10am to 4pm – Brighton Secondary School

24th August 10am to 4pm – Xavier College Kew

Jazz at Lincoln Center Clinicians in 2019

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.

Jerome Jennings

Ask anyone who has ever experienced him play, he owns his music. There are no wasted beats, or breaks. Every sound, every moment of silence, has a purpose. You cannot hear him and not feel the intensity behind his playing. The rhythm talks to you and the conversation between sound and emotion has always been the best recipe for good music, with Jennings you get both.

Jerome has always valued education and the pursuit of excellence. In 2004 he graduated from Rutgers University Mason Gross School for the performing arts. Later, the summer of 2007 Jerome earned a Masters Degree from the prestigious Juilliard School in Manhattan NY. Beginning fall 2017, Jerome has accepted the position as Resident Director of The Juilliard Jazz Orchestra.

Currently, Jerome is keeping extremely busy teaching, conducting clinics, educational youth out reach in conjunction with Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Jazz for Young People (JFYP) program. As always, Jerome has remained a pertinent performer. His debut recording ‘The Beast’ was named one of the top 3 Jazz releases by NPR, received a 4 star rating in DownBeat Magazine, and nominated for the prestigious French ‘Grand Prix du disque’ award for Album Of The Year 2016.

To date Jerome has/is performing/recording/touring with; Sonny Rollins, Hank Jones, The Count Basie Orchestra, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis (J@LC), Christian McBride, Paula West, Ernestine Anderson, The Mingus Big Band, Catherine Russell, Craig Handy, Davell Crawford, Henry Butler, Houston Person, Mike “Philly” Phillips, Slide Hampton, Benny Golson, Gerald Wilson, Tim Reis, Bernard Fowler, Benny Powell, Ronnie Mathews, Curtis Fuller, Valery Ponomarev, and many more.