by Jessie Ammons
When a dozen of the nation’s top high school jazz bands convene and compete in Savannah, Ga. later this month, the Philharmonic Association’s Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble will be among them. The Savannah Music Festival’s annual Swing Central Jazz high school band competition and workshop weekend March 29 – 31 is an opportunity for some of the Triangle’s best young musicians to learn from, work with, and perform for professional players and composers, says director Gregg Gelb.
“Working with these students is such an energy boost,” Gelb says, “and they sound so good playing together. They play with a lot of feeling.” This will be the TYJE’s first trip, and one Gelb says the group is well-equipped for. Last May, the ensemble placed second in the Essentially Ellington national competition at Lincoln Center.
In Savannah, the group will perform four arrangements – three required, and one of their choosing – in a series of competition rounds against eleven other bands from across the nation. When not practicing or performing, the 25 students will attend workshops and see the city. Regardless of the outcome, Gelb says the experience will be formative. “These are humble students. Behind their humbleness, they are trying to be the best players anywhere. This is an important step for their futures in music.”