russell_hall_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — They’re not only the best — OK, the baddest — in Florida. And in New York City. And on the east coast. They’re also tops in the nation.


For the second straight year, South Florida’s own Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble has soared to the heights of jazz expression, taking top honors at the Essentially Ellington Annual High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival at New York’s Lincoln Center May 4-6.

Performing America’s original classical music art form in the prestigious center’s famed Avery Fisher Hall, Director Christopher Dorsey’s magnet school students from across Broward County again brought an audience of jazz masters and fans to their feet in ovation.

With the students back from what has been called the super bowl of high school jazz competition, their local fans and supporters are celebrating the latest honors, and celebrating the music, with a reception and concert during which the 26-person ensemble will do their swinging thing.

The DCA Jazz Ensemble Celebrates their First Place Win at Essentially Ellington event takes place Wednesday, May 30, with the reception, 6:15-7:45 p.m. in the Black Box Theater, and the concert, 8:00-9:00 p.m. in the  Main Theater, at the Dillard Center for the Arts, 2501 N.W. 11th St., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $10.00; for more information visit, contact or call 954-214-0320.

Fifteen high school bands made the cut to compete among the best of the best from more than 100 nationally that qualified to apply for this year’s 17th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Competition, part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center program.

Dillard was one of the three top bands chosen by a panel of judges composed of distinguished jazz musicians and historians, including Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis.

Following the performances Marsalis presented awards to each of the 15 finalist bands. Dillard director Dorsey accepted the first place trophy and an award of $5,000. The New World School of the Arts (Miami) won second place and $2,500; Roosevelt High School (Seattle, Wash.) third and $1,000. All funds go to improve the schools' jazz programs.

In addition, recognized with Outstanding ratings for their solo performances were Dillard’s Jonathan Hainsworth, tenor saxophone; Max Boiko and Anthony Hervey, trumpet; Christian Dorsey, lead trumpet; and Sydney Henry, drums. Both the reed and trombone sections of Dillard’s ensemble also were recognized with an Outstanding rating.

Another reason to celebrate with the youths on May 30: Concerts such as these are how the students are able to finance their travel to such competitions as Essentially Ellington and the prestigious Swing Central jazz band competition in Savannah, Ga. last month — where the Dillard ensemble also placed first.

Supporters also can make a donation at to support the students, and help produce the future’s jazz masters.



WHAT: DCA Jazz Ensemble Celebrates their First Place Win at Essentially Ellington

WHEN: Wednesday, May 30  reception, 6:15-7:45 p.m. in the Black Box Theater; concert, 8-9:00 p.m. in the  Main Theater

Dillard Center for the Arts, 2501 N.W. 11th St., Fort Lauderdale

COST: $10

CONTACT: Visit, email or call 954-214-0320

Photo: Dillard bass player Russell Hall participates in a jazz jam at Jazz at Lincoln Center during the 17th Annual Essentially Ellington competition.