Saturday, January 11, 2003

Jazz orchestra offers Ellington

Lakota group working toward competition at Lincoln Center

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Fans of the late Duke Ellington can spend an evening with his music here Monday.

[photo] Sophomore Alex Pride solos on trumpet during a Lakota Jazz Orchestra rehearsal
(Michael Snyder photo)
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Lakota East and West high schools' combined second-year jazz orchestra will perform "Ko-Ko," "Caravan" and "Harlem Airshaft" by the jazz great. The 18-member band's performance will be taped later for the Eighth Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Hundreds of bands from around the world will submit tapes for judging. The top 15 will participate in the May competition, vying for one of three coveted spots in a performance with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

"We're going up against some amazing talent," said Drews Mitchell, one of Lakota's two jazz directors. The other, Brian Botdorf, said a lot of schools won't even touch Duke Ellington's music. "It's not easy," he said.

Lakota has several junior high and high school bands, including jazz, concert and marching.

The jazz orchestra was formed last year and is the only musical group that draws from both high schools.

Students must audition for the orchestra, which focuses solely on the works of Mr. Ellington, Mr. Mitchell said.

"There's no right or wrong in jazz," said Mitch Roelecke, 18, one of the orchestra's trombone players. "It's a unique form of music and you can improvise." Mitch is a senior at Lakota West and lives in Liberty Township.

The Lakota jazz orchestra's style of spotlighting soloists by bringing them to the front or having them stand is Ellington's style.

"Ellington was more acoustical and not microphone, and we're trying to copy Ellington style as much as possible," Mr. Botdorf said.

Monday's free concert is at 7 p.m. at Lakota West High School. Several other junior high and high school jazz bands also will be performing.

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