The Las Vegas Regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival is the largest in the nation.  Essentially Ellington is the capstone to all of JOI's work, encompassing Education, Performance, and Community Outreach.  The program is licensed by Jazz at Lincoln Center and features arrangements and artists/clinicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center and other specially invited guests in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center and the UNLV School of Music, Division of Jazz and Commercial Music.



The 3rd Annual Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band Festival is the nation's largest and will be held January 31 and February 1, 2020, at UNLV in Artemus Ham Hall. The festival is co-hosted by Jazz Outreach Initiative and the UNLV School of Music, Division of Jazz and Commercial Music in collaboration with and licensed by Jazz at Lincoln Center. This festival is a non-competitive, education-focused event designed to offer high school jazz bands of all levels from CCSD and across the southwest U.S. the opportunity to perform the music of Duke Ellington and other big band composers.  Participating bands receive professional feedback from JALC clinicians and other jazz professionals.

The Essentially Ellington Festival is focused primarily on the perpetuation of jazz in the schools,

promoting jazz as a uniquely American art form.  This year’s program will feature jazz artist and the Ellington Festival Artistic Director Kenny Rampton along with world renowned jazz luminaries such as legendary drummer Butch Miles, Julius Tolentino and others.  Kenny Rampton is a UNLV alumni, acclaimed trumpeter and member of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis.  There will also be a panel of excellent clinicians for the festival.

On Friday evening, January 31 Nevada School of the Arts and Jazz Outreach Initiative are co-sponsoring a special Directors Dinner at UNLV for clinicians and educators featuring keynote speakers Todd Stoll (Vice President of Education for JALC and President of JEN) and famed jazz educator, master alto saxophonist Julius Tolentino, and Kenny Rampton along with comments by NSA Pres/CEO Patrick Duffy and JOI Executive Director, Donny Thompson. In addition, a wonderful pizza party and jam session for students will be held with amazing jazz artists on the same evening. Informative master classes and inspiring clinics will also be offered both days by world-class jazz artists and educators.

On Saturday evening, February 1, immediately following the awards ceremony, which will recognize outstanding soloists, sections, and many other notable performances, the world-ranked award-winning UNLV Jazz Ensemble I along with guest artists and high school outstanding soloists will perform. The evening will culminate with the addition of the acclaimed Las Vegas Master Singers as the band, artists and choir perform selections from Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts. 

In an effort to strengthen and grow the overall jazz community, all participating high schools, students,  and directors, are encouraged to take part in all events of this incredible 2-day festival including  supporting each other’s performances, attending master classes, sectionals, jam sessions and all other activities.