Winner of 2013 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award is….

Luke Berger! The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) has announced its winner of the 2013 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award. This award demonstrates excellence in musicianship and performance amongst central Ohio’s young students of jazz. Eight extremely talented high school students auditioned for the $500 cash award and the chance to perform with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and Artistic Director Byron Stripling at the July 19th JazZoo! at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.

First round adjudicators were Michael Cox, saxophone and Professor of Music at Capital University; Ben Huntoon, trumpet, and Jazz Education Specialist at Stanton’s Sheet Music; and Stan Smith, guitar and Professor of Music at Capital University. After listening to all eight taped auditions, these three narrowed the field to four, who auditioned with a rhythm section on May 11, 2013 at the Jazz Academy.

This year’s four finalists were Luke Berger, drums, Mount Sterling, Ohio; Vince Gillotti, saxophone, Columbus, Ohio; Ariel Glassman, guitar, Dublin, Ohio; and Gabby Pedroza, vocalist, Dublin, Ohio. Adjudicators for the final round included: Tom Carroll, guitar, Professor of Music, Denison University; Pete Mills, saxophone, Professor of Music, Denison University; Jim Rupp, drummer, owner Columbus Pro Percussion; and Gene Walker, saxophone, professional musician.

Final adjudication took place on Saturday, May 11 at JAG’s Jazz Academy. All four finalists, with a rhythm section made up of local professional jazz musicians, performed solo then as an ensemble and all four played beautifully. Jurors Carroll, Mills, Rupp and Walker all commented on the quality of the four finalists, highlighting the strengths of each performance. And, after much discussion, the adjudicators unanimously agreed that the 2013 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award winner is Luke Berger.

“The playing levels of the participants seem to get better and better every year,” stated co-judge Tom Carroll. “This competition is extremely important in these times where music and arts are being cut back all across the board in public education from K-12. Keeping this American art form in the schools is extremely important to those who want to play this music as well as keeping it a part of the landscape of our communities.”

Luke Berger will receive a collection of Jamey Aebersold books, a $500 check and the opportunity to perform with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra at its July 19th JazZoo! concert. Luke, a junior at Westfall High School, has been involved in the Jazz Academy’s Youth Jazz Program for three years, and plans to pursue a college degree in jazz studies upon graduating. He has recently been selected to attend the competitive Eastman University Summer Jazz Studies Program, along with 2012 Hank Marr Award winner, Micah Thomas.

Ariel Glassman, guitar, and Gabby Pedroza, vocals, were named the two runners-up, and will each receive a selection of Jamey Aebersold books for their continued learning in the jazz idiom, gifted by corporate partner Stanton’s Sheet Music. Both Glassman and Pedroza are juniors at Dublin Coffman High School. Glassman is a member of the Jazz Academy’s Youth Jazz Program and is a frequent volunteer for Jazz Arts Group events, while Pedroza has sung with two of the three jazz ensembles at Dublin Coffman High School and actively studies the music of jazz legends Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, among others.

Columbus musical legend Hank Marr was one of the world’s masters of the Hammond B-3 organ. Along with Hank’s celebrity status as a member of the jazz elite, he was a dedicated and gifted educator. In recognition of over fifty years as a performer, teacher, arranger and conductor, the Jazz Arts Group established the Hank Marr High School Jazz Award as a tribute to this special individual. His willingness to “pass it on” makes the encouragement of young jazz artists an important and meaningful activity.

“If a young player had any questions he would stop in his tracks and take as much time with the youngster as needed,” shared Carroll. “On a personal note, I was one of those youngsters and it evolved to the point that Hank started to hire me to play with him. Then that introduced me to Rusty Bryant, Gary Carney, Ola Hanson, John Ulrich and MANY more local legends who I played with and became friends with.”

Jazz Arts Group thanks Crabbe, Brown & James for its financial support of the Hank Marr High School Jazz Award and the many individual contributors who knew and loved Hank.

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