Communities cheer when a hometown team reaches the Sweet 16. This spring, Champaign-Urbana has reason to celebrate a musical triumph for a hometown band. Champaign Central Jazz Ensemble has been accepted to a prestigious jazz competition, arguably the high school band equivalent of the Sweet 16.

Central Jazz Ensemble, led by John Currey, is one of fifteen bands chosen—from across the nation—to perform in the 22nd Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival, held at New York City’s Lincoln Center, May 11-13, 2017.

The Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival has been described as one of the most innovative jazz education events in the world. Selected high school bands travel to New York for three days of workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals, and judged performances. The event culminates with an awards ceremony and concert featuring the top three bands from the festival’s competition, as well as a performance by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Travel and hotel costs will be considerable. On Saturday, April 8, Central Jazz Ensemble members will go door-to-door in Champaign neighborhoods to solicit monetary support for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Band members are prepared to play a selection upon request.

All donations to Central Music Boosters are tax deductible and will help defray the costs of participating in the Essentially Ellington festival. For details about the fundraiser, call Central High School and inquire about the Door-to-Door Jazz Fundraiser at (217) 351-3911.