Clarence Acox: Director, Bands I & II

Clarence Acox, Jr., an instrumental figure in the Seattle music scene, has nurtured young musicians for the past 42 years at Garfield High School. He leads the renowned Garfield Jazz Ensemble, winning dozens of awards and making regular appearances at national and international venues.

A native of New Orleans, Acox came to Seattle in 1971 straight out of Southern University, where he was recruited by Garfield High School to revive its moribund music program. He founded the Garfield jazz program in 1979, and in over three decades of leadership, he has made the name “Garfield” synonymous with excellence in high school jazz. Garfield's Jazz Ensemble has taken first place four times (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) at New York's Essentially Ellington National Jazz Band Competition and Festival at New York City's Lincoln Center - the country's most prestigious high school jazz competition. Under Acox's direction, the jazz ensemble has won just about every major competition on the West Coast. 

Acox’s accomplishments are not limited to Garfield. He is also on the faculty at Centrum’s Jazz Port Townsend and is Director, High School Division Ensemble at the nonprofit jazz education organization,  JazzEd. He also directed Seattle University’s jazz ensemble from 2005-10.

An accomplished and in-demand drummer in his own right, Acox co-founded the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in 1995 and has performed with the Floyd Standifer Quartet (now known as The Legacy Quartet and led by Acox) at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant for more than two decades.

Clarence has received numerous accolades for his achievements as both an educator and a musician. To name a few:

  • He was named Earshot Jazz magazine’s Musician of the Year in 1992;
  • In 1994, he was inducted into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame;
  • He was named "Educator of the Year" by DownBeat Magazine in 2001;
  • In 2004, the Seattle Music Educator's Association awarded him its "Outstanding Music Educator" award;
  • In 2007, he received the Mayor's Arts Award from Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels;
  • In 2008, Seattle Metropolitan magazine named him one of the 50 most influential musicians in the history of Seattle music;
  • He was a recipient of the Seattle City of Music Commission’s Impact Award in 2010;
  • In 2011, ArtsFund presented him with its Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award
  • The City of Seattle officially proclaimed October 12, 2012 as "Clarence Acox Day."

Read On! Watch This!
Seattle P-I Profile Seattle Voices with Clarence Acox
Earshot Jazz: July 2006 2007 Mayor's Arts Awards: Clarence Acox