Enloe Students Selected for Prestigious Jazz Competition in New York City

Returning to in-person competitions for the first time in three years, Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival is coming back for its 26th year, and Enloe’s very own Mason Rheinhardt (alto saxophone), Connor Lee (tenor saxophone), Dylan Lee (trombone), Thanush Patlolla (guitar) and Sean McCoy (tenor saxophone and clarinet) are part of one of the fifteen bands selected nationwide for the 2022 competition. These students are a part of the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble (TYJE), based in Raleigh, and directed by Dr. Gregg Gelb. They are a group of incredibly talented musicians, grades eight through twelve, who strive to advance their performance skills and knowledge of jazz music by learning and performing a variety of compositions by different musicians. 

Named after one of the greatest forces of the jazz world, Duke Ellington, a revolutionary pianist and composer, Essentially Ellington is one of the most notable programs for jazz education in the world, created by the organization Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1995. The competition will be held from May 5th to the 7th and will be judged by renowned trumpeter, composer, and educator, Wynton Marsalis, as well as Darcy James Argue, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and Catherine Russell. In a statement, Marsalis remarked, “Congratulations to the finalists. I’m proud of all Essentially Ellington alumni, the band directors, and the level people are playing on. The level and quality of playing is higher every year.” 

As well as the excitement expressed by the judges for this year’s competition, the musicians participating are equally, if not more, enthusiastic for the upcoming event. Mason Rheinhardt, a senior, expresses that he is “ecstatic,” and that performing in Essentially Ellington has been something that he has been dreaming of since his middle school years. Now, he claims, “I set a lot of expectations on myself to do well this year and lead the group because there are fewer seniors than normal…and also, I’ve been in the group since my sophomore year, but I was relieved because I knew that I’d have a chance to do something with that group and you know, go in and achieve really cool things.” 

Connor Lee, a sophomore, reveals his enthusiasm for the competition, claiming, “I’m really, really excited about it. [..A] lot of musicians who have been influential to me have said that it was one of the best experiences musically in high school.” He also conveyed that he is most looking forward to meeting new musicians his age and being able to perform alongside them. Regarding his experience in TYJE, Lee commented, “It’s been really fun playing with all these people who are insanely passionate about their craft, and I feel like we all share sort of like a brotherhood, it’s like a family.” He also encourages other young jazz musicians to audition for TYJE if they have the time and are interested in improving their skills as well as meeting new people.

The Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival is accessible on the internet via Jazz at Lincoln Center on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EssentiallyEllington, Twitter: @EssEllington, Instagram: @jazzdotorg. Tune in if you want to support your fellow Enloe Eagles!