Garfield High School Jazz is one of the truly outstanding high school jazz programs anywhere in the world.  There are three bands in the program.  Bands I and II are directed by Clarence Acox.  Band III is directed by Jacob Zimmerman.

Garfield Jazz Milestones
Ernestine Anderson. Quincy Jones. Jimi Hendrix. The place is full of music. Who knows what greats are yet to share their musical talents with us in years to come?

Garfield High School is a public high school in Seattle, WA, attracting students from a variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Garfield’s jazz culture is so strong that it maintains multiple levels of jazz bands in its curriculum for over 75 students. Under the leadership of Clarence Acox (now in his 42nd year as a music educator), Garfield continues to bring to young people the jazz traditions of such big bands as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Woody Herman.

Jazz Ensemble I is the top jazz band in this program. The group has won every major competition on the west coast of the United States, including the Reno Jazz Festival, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival (named Outstanding Festival Band six times), Clark College Jazz Festival (seven-time Sweepstakes Award winner) and Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. Jazz Ensembles II and III have also competed successfully in events around in the Northwest. 

Garfield is a frequent participant in the Essentially Ellington National Jazz Band Competition and Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City, the most prestigious high school jazz competition in the United States. Since 1999, Garfield has been selected as one of the 15 Essentially Ellington finalists thirteen times, including an unprecedented four first-place trophies (in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010), as well as second place finishes in 2002 and 2008 and third place in 2006; you can watch their 2013 Ellington performances here. In May 2003, the Garfield Jazz Ensemble made a national TV appearance, with Wynton Marsalis, on NBC’s Today Show.

Graduates of the Garfield Jazz program have gone on to study at leading music schools throughout the country, such as the Berklee College of Music, The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, The New England Conservatory of Music, USC Thornton School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Cornish College of the Arts.


2014


May: Essentially Ellington Competition, New York City

In its thirteenth appearance at the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Competition & Festival, Band I receives an honorable mention award and brings home Outstanding Trumpet Section, Outstanding Trombone section, Outstanding Pep Section honors, plus soloist honors for Charlie Feig (Honorable Mention, Trumpet),  Alice Mar-Abe (Honorable Mention, Piano), Tom Renehan (Honorable Mention, Trumpet), Charlie Sawyer (Honorable Mention, Tenor Sax), Jack Swiggett (Outstanding Piano) and Isak Washburn-Gaines (Outstanding Tenor Sax).

May: Bellevue High School Jazz Festival

Band II wins first place in the 3A high school division and captures the Sweepstakes Trophy as the outstanding ensemble of the festival.

April: Reno Jazz Festival

Band II travels to Nevada for the Reno Jazz festival, where Ben Lindenburg (tenor sax), Liam Connor (trumpet), Nicolas Lutenko (piano), Liya LaPierre (bass) and Daelen Gates (bass) receive soloist honors and Jazz Ensemble II Combo takes third place in its category.

March: Seattle Jazz Experience

Band III is selected to play in the inaugural Seattle Jazz Experience festival at Seattle’s Cornish Playhouse.

February: Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

At the Lionel Hampton Jazz festival, Band I is feature in the Young Artists’ Concert and Alice Mar-Abe, Jack Swiggett and Isak Washburn-Gaines are selected to play in the Hamp’s Club concert for outstanding soloists.

February: Bellevue College Jazz Festival

Band I finishes second in  Bellevue College Jazz festival that is shortened by snow, but not before Isak Washburn-Gaines (clarinet), Isaac Poole (trombone) and Jack Swiggett (piano) receive outstanding soloist awards.

January: Clark College Jazz Festival

Band I is takes first place in the AAAA Division and wins the Sweepstakes Award (as the outstanding ensemble in the entire festival) for the seventh time. Alice Mar-Abe (piano), Isak Washburn-Gaines (tenor sax and clarinet) and Jack Swiggett (piano) receive “Outstanding Musician” awards.


2013

May: Essentially Ellington Competition, New York City

Garfield performs at the Essentially Ellington festival for the twelfth time and receives honors for Outstanding Rhythm Section, Outstanding Saxophone Section and Outstanding Trumpet Section. Jack Swiggett earns Outstanding Soloist, Piano and Isak Washburn-Gaines takes the Outstanding Doubler award (on tenor sax and clarinet). Ariel Loud (alto sax) and Connor Hargus (trombone) receive honorable mentions.

 

April: Reno Jazz Festival

Band II has a first-place finish in the Apprentice Band Division, and Band I takes second place in the AAA High School Band Division. Bulldog combos take first, third and fourth places In the AAA High School Combo Division.

 

February: Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

Band I and Band II are featured in the Young Artists’ Concert, and Ariel Loud (sax) is selected to play  in the “Hamp’s Club” concert for soloists. Homer Aalfs (sax), Connor Hargus (trombone) and Alice Mar-Abe (piano) receive honorable mentions.

 

February: Bellevue College Big Band Jazz Festival

Band I is chosen as a finalist in the High School Division. Isak Washburn-Gaines (tenor sax) and Connor Hargus (trombone) receive Outstanding Soloists honors.

 

February: Viking Jazz Festival

Bands II and III are selected as finalist bands. Band III is recognized for having the outstanding rhythm section in its division, and pianists Nicolas Lutenco in Band II and Wyatt Morrison in Band III won recognition as outstanding soloists.

 

January: Clark College Jazz Festival

Band I is selected as a finalist in the AAAA Division. Ariel Loud (alto sax), Connor Hargus (trombone) and Jack Swiggett (piano) receive “Outstanding Musician” awards.

 

October (2012): Tribute to Clarence Acox

The Earshot Jazz Festival presents a “Tribute to Clarence Acox” at Benaroya Hall. In conjunction with the festivities, the City of Seattle officially proclaims October 12, 2012 “Clarence Acox Day.”


2012
May: Garfield Jazz Annual Gala

Garfield Jazz Foundation celebrates and honors Clarence Acox for his 40 years of service as a music educator at Garfield High School.

May: Bellevue High School Jazz Festival

Jazz Bands II and III each win their respective division, and Band II claims the Festival's Sweepstakes Award for best band overall. Alice-Mar Abe is recognized as the outstanding piano soloist.

April: Reno Jazz Festival

Band I takes second place, and Band II wins first place, in their respective divisions. Combo I and Combo II receive first and fourth place awards, respectively, in the AAA High School Division; Combo I is chosen to perform on the Mainstage. Taizo Curry is named named best performer on bass trombone, and Julian Garvue (piano/trumpet) is named best overall soloist. In addition, Derek Gamlam (piano) and Cameron Vohr (tenor sax) are selected to perform with the Reno Jazz Festival All-Star Band. No less than ten musicians from Bands I and II receive Outstanding Musicianship awards.

February: Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

Band I is selected to play in the Saturday evening Young Artists Concert, and Band II receives an Honorable Mention award in its division. Julian Garvue (piano) and Cameron Vohr (tenor sax) are named as Outstanding Young Performers and perform in Hamp's Club. 

February: Bellevue College Big Band Jazz Festival

Band I is named a finalist in its division. Homer Aalfs wins Outstanding Saxophone Soloist honors.

February: Viking Jazz Festival

Band II takes second place and Band III wins first place in their respective divisions. Outstanding soloist awards go to Derek Billey (saxophone) and Alice Mar-Abe (piano) from Band II and Janak Preston (percussion) from Band III.

January: Clark College Jazz Festival

Band I receives the first place award in the AAAA Division. Cameron Vohr (saxophone) takes one of the two Outstanding Musician awards bestowed at the entire festival.


2010

May: Essentially Ellington Competition, New York City

Garfield wins first place overall.


2009

May: Essentially Ellington Competition, New York City

Garfield wins first place overall.


2008

May: Essentially Ellington Competition, New York City

Garfield wins second place overall. The brass and woodwinds receive Outstanding Sections awards. Carl Majeau receives the first Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Soloist award ever given. Soloist awards are granted to Ben Hamaji on piano, Zubin Hensler on trumpet, Jake Linde on trombone, and Riley Mulherkar on trumpet.

April: Reno Jazz Festival

Jazz Ensemble II comes second in the Apprentice Bands for their division. The combos fielded by Garfield win first and second place. Zubin Hensler again receives a soloist award for trumpet.

March: Lifetime Achievement Award to Quincy Jones

In this star-studded tribute, Ensemble I opens an evening of music celebrating Garfield alumni Quincy Jones' career. Carlos Santana and several other national recording artists produced by Quincy play.

February: Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

Jazz Ensemble II wins the Adjudicator's Choice, or first prize in their division. Ensemble I wins a Adjudicator's Commendaton. Zubin Hensler receives a soloist award for trumpet.

February: Bellveue Big Band Jazz Festival

Jazz Ensemble I wins second place. Zubin Hensler, Carl Majeau and Robert Struthers receives awards as outstanding soloists.

February: Clark College Jazz Festival

Jazz Ensemble I secures second place in the AAAA division. Carl Majeau receives a soloist award.


2007

October: Earshot Jazz Festival

Garfield Jazz Ensemble I performed with the multi-talented Houston Person at the Triple Door. Mr. Person salutes the band with a rendition of "What A Wonderful World".

July: Southern European tour

Like latter-day Visigoths, Jazz Ensemble I swept through southern Europe, opening Montreux Jazz Festival and closing Umbria Jazz Festival. On the way, the band performed in Innsbruck, Austria and Florence, Italy. Emboldened by their earnings while busking in Perugia, they sacked Rome before returning to Seattle.

May: New York City

The band appears on New York's Channel 11 news with Wynton Marsalis before the Essentially Ellington competition. Soloist awards received by received by Carl Majeau (clarinet), John Cheadle (alto sax), Devin Mooers (tenor sax), Joel Gombiner (tenor sax) and Ben Hamaji (piano).


2006

May: New York City

Garfield secures third place in the Essentially Ellington competition.

October: Earshot Jazz Festival

Garfield Jazz Ensemble I performed with David "Fathead" Newman at the Triple Door.


2005

2004

May: New York City

Paul de Barros of the Seattle Times wrote:
"Hitting a solid groove that would have made Duke Ellington himself smile, the Garfield High School Jazz Band clinched its second consecutive triumph at the Essentially Ellington Competion and Festival last night".


2003

May: New York City

Garfield wins the Essentially Ellington competition.


2002

May: New York City

Garfield secures second place in the Essentially Ellington competition.


2000

May: New York City

Garfield receives an honorable mention in the Essentially Ellington competition.


1999

May: New York City

Garfield receives an honorable mention in the Essentially Ellington competition. The stage is set for things to come.