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Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble

  • DCA Jazz Ensemble Tradition “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing!” Over the past 15 years, the DCA Jazz Ensemble has matured and become one of the premiere high school jazz bands in the country. The band’s style and swing are built on a foundation of a thorough knowledge of styles and performance techniques of varied contemporary and jazz literature and developing strong listening skills. Mr. Dorsey has engaged his students in the history and artistry of jazz, thus building a foundation on which the students can grow and thrive. Under the leadership of Mr. Dorsey, the DCA Jazz Ensemble is consistently represented in prestigious honor jazz ensembles at the district, state and national levels. Our students have been selected into the All County Honor Jazz Bands, The Florida All State Honor Bands, The Grammy Band, and the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Band just to name a few. One of the premier national competitions is the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival is held each May in New York City at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Fifteen bands are selected as finalists from hundreds of recorded submissions from bands across the US and Canada. The three-day festival allows students, teachers and musicians to participate in workshops, rehearsals and performances, concluding with an evening concert and awards ceremony featuring the three top-placing bands. Mr. Dorsey and the DCA Jazz Ensemble have been finalists in this event for the following years: • First Place – 2011, 2012, 2018, • Second Place – 2010, 2019, • Third Place – 2014, 2017 • Honorable Mention – 2013, 2015 Another premier high school jazz event held each March in Savannah, Georgia, is the Swing Central National Jazz Competition. The DCA Jazz Ensemble placed First in 2010, 2011 and 2012; Second in 2008 and 2009. The band presented a workshop/clinic with famed trumpeter and jazz educator Wynton Marsalis at The Midwest Clinic in 2013. Our students also earn scholarships to some of the most prestigious jazz camps in the nation, including: The Vail Jazz Workshop, Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop, Michigan State University Jazz Camp and Stanford University Jazz Camp, among others. The DCA Jazz Ensemble regularly performs in major venues for South Florida audiences. Each year, the Old Dillard Museum Foundation sponsors two concerts, featuring the DCA Jazz Ensemble notable guest artists at the DCA Main Theater. One of the highlights of the year is the annual Sweet Dillard Jazz fundraising concert held in April. The jazz ensemble has recorded three CD’s and performed for a variety of music education seminars. Graduates of the performing arts program go on to attend some of the top colleges and conservatory programs in the United States, including the Juilliard School of Music, Berklee College of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Columbia University. Many of the students have become professional jazz musicians. Here are just a few: • Patrick Bartley – Alto Saxophone • Russell Hall - Bass • Anthony Hervey – Trumpet
  • 12/19/2019 01:00 PM - 02:00 PM
  • Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble
  • Christopher Dorsey
  • Mr. Dorsey received his Bachelor of Music Education from Jackson State University (1983) and his M. S. of Education – Instrumental Music, from the University of Florida (1986). Christopher has taught for more than 34 years at various schools in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. His intent is to give students the opportunity to compete with other high school programs on a State and National level and provide opportunities for students to pursue careers in music. His main mission is to teach life skills through the music. All of Dorsey's bands: Jazz, Orchestra and Concert, have received Superior Ratings on the District and State levels for more than 34 consecutive years. Students in all of Mr. Dorsey’s programs, past and present, have been accepted to the finest colleges, universities and conservatories in the US, often with generous scholarships. Since 2004, Christopher Dorsey, Director of Jazz and Contemporary Music Studies, has developed the Jazz Program at Dillard Center for the Arts into one of the premier high school jazz programs in the country. Over the years, the program has developed from one to three jazz bands and they have reached a level of skill, style and swing that has earned the program a strong national presence. The DCA Jazz Ensemble, under Mr. Dorsey’s direction, has accomplished some of the following: • Finalists of the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019) with performances at Lincoln Center in New York City with Wynton Marsalis in 2011, 2012 and 2018 as First Place winners • Featured band for the Annual Cannonball Adderley Birthday Concert & Celebration, which takes place each September • April 16, 2016 - DCA Jazz Ensemble performed w/special guest Dr. Ron McCurdy and the Ron McCurdy Quartet, in Ask Your Mama - 12 Moods for Jazz; The Langston Hughes Project • January 8, 2020 - President’s Concert – Florida Music Educators Conference – Tampa, FL • December 19, 2019 performance at the 73rd Annual Midwest Clinic, an International Band and Orchestra Conference – Chicago, IL • December 20, 2013 performance at the 67th Annual Midwest Clinic, an International Band and Orchestra Conference – Chicago, IL • December 20, 2012 demonstration band for Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, at the 66th Midwest Clinic, an International Band and Orchestra Conference – Chicago, IL • The 2012, 2011 & 2010 winners of the Swing Central Jazz Competition and Workshop in Savannah, GA • Several jazz band members selected for participation in Grammy Band, Jazz Band of America, Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, All State Jazz Band and All County Jazz Band • DCA Jazz graduates on scholarships to Manhattan School of Music, Julliard, New School of Jazz, University of Miami, Michigan State University and Florida State University • Scholarship winners of the Gold Coast Jazz Society (Jeanette M. Russell Scholarship) attended various jazz workshops i. e.: Vail Jazz Workshop, Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony, Centrum Jazz Workshop, Stanford University, Michigan State University, Aebersold Jazz Camp and the Apprentices in Jazz Workshop • Each year, Chris is pleased to have numerous students participate in the All County Jazz Band and All State Jazz Bands The Ensemble has also worked with several well-known and respected artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Lou Donaldson, Rodney Whitaker, Willerm Delisfort, Marquis Hill, Ron Carter, Jeff Clayton, Vincent Gardner, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, Victor Goines, Chris Crenshaw, Walter Blanding, John Clayton, Gerald Clayton, Ali Jackson, Ted Nash, Brubeck Brothers, Negroni’s Trio, Chico Hamilton, Sean Jones, John Faddis, Nicole Henry, Louis Hayes and Nestor Torres. Prior to assuming his position at Dillard Center for the Arts (DCA), Chris was a successful educator at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Miami, Florida. He served as the Fine Arts Department Chairman and Director of the Jazz, Concert, Symphonic and the Mighty Marching Bulls Bands from 1996 to 2004. Under his direction, the Mighty Marching Bulls and the Symphonic Bands rated Superior five out of eight years. The Jazz Band rated Superior, eight consecutive years on the District level and seven years on the State level. The Northwestern bands received performance awards at the IAJE and Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic conferences in 2001. Chris has similar success with middle school students. Amid the turmoil and devastation from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Mr. Dorsey was invited to become the Director of Bands – Beginning, Concert, Jazz and Symphonic Bands at Homestead Middle School. From 1992 to 1993, the Jazz and Concert Bands received straight Superiors. His success continued at John F. Kennedy Middle School, where under his tutelage, the Jazz and Concert Bands received straight Superiors three consecutive years. Chris continuously inspires, motivates and teaches his students a love for music that can evoke the emotions of the listener. “My career in music education started at Little River Elementary School. The experience I have gained working with children of all age groups, has prepared me to instruct and develop any student to strive to reach their potential.” Mr. Dorsey is an accomplished musician and has performed with jazz greats such as Nat Adderley, Al Grey, Slide Hampton, Lionel Hampton and the Roland Burnes Quintet. As a featured trombonist, Chris toured extensively through Europe with the off-Broadway production of “Ain’t Misbehavin” and worked with Dionne Warwick and Melton Mustafa. Chris is an active member of FBA, FOA, NAfME, and FMEA. He is an FBA Certified Adjudicator and has been called upon to adjudicate for Music Performance Assessment Evaluations throughout the state. In addition to his teaching, Christopher has served as the Conductor of the Miami Wind Symphony Jazz Ensemble, the MMEA NE District 2019 Senior Honors Jazz Band, the GMEA District 8 2016 High School Honors Jazz Band and the 2016 Volusia County Honors Jazz Band. Chris has also served as Guest Conductor for the Broward County’s Honors Jazz Band in 2002 and the Miami-Dade County’s Honors Jazz Band in 1999. Mr. Dorsey and the band are featured in “Sweet Dillard”, a documentary which chronicled the 2014 school year of the DCA Jazz Ensemble from the first day of class to their participation in the Essentially Ellington jazz competition in May 2015. This documentary has aired on PBS stations nationwide and was premiered at the 33rd Miami International Film Festival, March 2016. Professionally, Dorsey is a highly sought-after Adjudicator and Clinician. Chris regularly serves as an adjudicator for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Regional Festivals, held throughout the US. He also conducts and participates in educational seminars as a Conn-Selmer Educational Clinician. In 2017, Chris was nominated and won Arts Teacher of the Year – ArtsEd Forever! The Arts Teacher of the Year Award was created by the Broward County Cultural Division and Council in 1985 to recognize and honor a significant arts teacher in the Broward County Public Schools. Chris received an award for the 2017 Outstanding School Arts Education Professional from the Florida Alliance for Arts Education and Teacher of the year – Dillard Center for the Arts – October 2016.