Jazz at Lincoln Center announced that the Coral Gables-based Community Arts Program (CAP) All-Star Jazz Ensemble, with the support of a Knight Foundation grant, is one of the 15 finalists for the 18th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. The competition will take place in New York City from May 10-12, and the top-three bands will perform with legend Wynton Marsalis.
The All-Star Jazz Ensemble is the only after-school jazz band chosen in Region 4, which includes 11 U.S. States, and was selected out of 100 recorded submissions. The ensemble began as an after-school program at the historic Coral Gables Congregational Church in 2009 and has quickly developed into a center for serious jazz for serious youth musicians who come from schools across South Florida. The program provides a space for these musicians to develop their artistry and also provides a level of mentorship vital for the growth of these young musicians.
The ensemble, comprised of a a diverse group of talented 15- to 19-year old jazz musicians, rehearses every Thursday between 6-8:30 p.m. at the church, under the conductorship of Daniel Strange. Strange, a graduate from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, has performed on various stages from Carnegie Hall to NBC’s Today Show. His leadership of the All-Star Jazz Ensemble has led to performances throughout Miami-Dade on “serious jazz” station WDNA 88.9FM, as well as opening acts for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Count Basie Orchestra. In August 2011, the Community Arts Program’s CAP Records®, released the ALL-STAR Jazz Ensemble’s first recording, With a Swing!.
One may think the future of jazz, especially in South Florida, couldn’t possibly live within a religious institution, but the United Church of Christ dispels the myth that church and jazz cannot coexist. In fact, music and spirituality have a long history together, and the Coral Gables United Church of Christ is a beacon for jazz in South Florida — a beacon that that may just catapult the church’s All-Star Jazz Ensemble and South Florida into the national jazz spotlight.
Learn more about the Community Arts Program (CAP) here: http://communityartsprogram.org.