Winner of 2014 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award: Christopher Thompson-Taylor

There are plenty of young aspiring jazz musicians in Columbus. The Jazz Arts Group has awarded the coveted “Hank Marr High School Jazz Award” for 2014 to Christoper Thompson-Taylor. Full details along with runner-ups from the Jazz Arts Group:

The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) has announced its winner of the 2014 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award. This award demonstrates excellence in musicianship and performance amongst 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 August 8th JazZoo! concert 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 Ryan Hamilton, trombonist 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 10, 2014 at the Jazz Academy.

This year’s three finalists were Julian Dittmer, piano, Bexley, OH; Logan Moore, saxophone, Hilliard, OH; and Christopher Thompson-Taylor, saxophone, Cincinnati, OH. Adjudicators for the final round included: Tom Carroll, guitar, Professor of Music, Denison University; Ray Eubanks, founder of the Jazz Arts Group and former Professor of Music, Capital University; and Jim Rupp, drummer, Professor of Music at Ohio State University, owner Columbus Pro Percussion.

Final adjudication took place on Saturday, May 10 at JAG’s Jazz Academy. All three finalists, with a rhythm section made up of local professional jazz musicians, performed solo then as an ensemble and all three played beautifully. Jurors Carroll, Eubanks, and Rupp all commented on the quality of the three finalists, highlighting the strengths of each performance. And, after much discussion, the adjudicators unanimously agreed that the 2014 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award winner is Christopher Thompson-Taylor.

“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.”

Christopher Thompson-Taylor will receive a collection of Jamey Aebersold books, a $500 check and the opportunity to perform with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra at its August 8th JazZoo! concert. A senior from Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati, OH, Christopher has received several statewide honors for his musicianship, including membership in the 2014 All-State Jazz Ensemble and the Cincinnati Youth Jazz Orchestra. Christopher has received the President’s Scholarship to pursue his undergraduate degree at the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

Julian Dittmer, piano, and Logan Moore, saxophone, 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 Dittmer and Moore, juniors, are members of the Jazz Academy’s Columbus Youth Jazz program, and plan to pursue an undergraduate education in jazz performance.

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.”

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