Posts filed under ‘New York’

New York – A Jazz Experience

Jazz at Lincoln Center 

This is the fourth and final installment of my four-part photo album of Reggie’s trip to New York.

The main reason my son, Reggie, and the rest of the River East Collegiate Senior Jazz Band went to New York is to compete at the 12th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival.  The sight-seeing is just part of the package.  They were already there, so why not make the most of it, right?

Essentially Ellington is a unique program created by Jazz at Lincoln Center to make Duke Ellington’s music available to as many high school music students as possible and to support schools in developing their music programs.

· This year Jazz at Lincoln Center distributed more than 5,400 newly transcribed Ellington scores, reference recordings and additional educational materials.

· These materials were sent to more than 920 high schools in the United States, Canada and American schools in Bolivia, Brazil, France, Japan, Malaysia and Switzerland.

· 88 bands entered the competition by submitting a recording of three Ellington works.

· The entries were evaluated in a blind screening by jazz education experts RONALD CARTER, LOREN SCHOENBERG and REGINALD THOMAS.

The 15 finalists for Essentially Ellington 2007 were (in order of appearance):

Garfield High School, Seattle, WA
Edmonds-Woodway High School, Edmonds, WA
Roosevelt High School, Seattle, WA
Agoura High School Jazz A, Agoura Hills, CA
Mead High School, Spokane, WA
Williamsville East High School, East Amherst, NY
King Philip Regional High School, Wrentham, MA
Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT
Carroll Senior High School, Southlake, TX
Grandview High School, Grandview, MO
Foxboro High School, Foxboro, MA
Agoura High School Studio Jazz Band, Agoura Hills, CA
Honeoye Falls-Lima High School, Honeoye Falls, NY
Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, CA

The three-day festival began on Friday, May 4th when the finalist bands arrive at Frederick P. Rose Hall for “One-On-One With Wynton Marsalis,” a reading by the essay contest winner, workshops, rehearsals, a banquet dinner and jam sessions with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO). The three-part competition was in Rose Theater on Saturday, May 5th at 3pm and Sunday, May 6th at 10am and 1pm. The panel judges each band’s performance of three Ellington works. At the May 6, 7:30pm Concert and Awards Ceremony in Avery Fisher Hall, the three top-placing bands performed alone and with Wynton Marsalis, followed by the JLCO performing an all-Ellington set and the culminating awards ceremony honoring outstanding soloists and sections and the three top-placing bands.

1st Place:
Roosevelt High School

2nd Place:
Agoura High School Studio Jazz Band

3rd Place:
Foxboro High School

The Judges:
WYNTON MARSALIS, Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director;
DAVID BAKER, Music Director, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra;
DAVID BERGER, composer, conductor, and Ellington authority; and  
GUNTHER SCHULLER, author, composer, and conductor


Here’s what was written about the River East Collegiate Senior Jazz Band at the “Meet the Finalists” Program of the Playbill of Frederick P. Rose Hall, May 2007.

(Names of band director, principal and 18 band members.)

The River East Collegiate Jazz Program consists of the Senior Jazz Band as well as an intermediate jazz band and jazz combo.  Throughout this season, the Senior Jazz Band has performed on numerous occasions at the local, provincial and national levels.  In addition to working with local musician Ron Paley, the Senior Jazz Band has worked extensively to expand the jazz listening library to further develop the resources available to the students.  River East Collegiate Senior Jazz Band has been an Essentially Ellington finalist in 2003, 2004, and 2007.

You can view the pictures of River East Collegiate’s participation in this competition at My New York Photo Album.

Rose Theatre  Reggie and John meet Ron Carter

Jam session  Birdland Jazz Club

A New York Experience Photo Album: 

Part 1 – The Sights of New York
Part 2 – Shopping in New York
Part 3 – More sight-seeing in New York
Part 4 – New York – A Jazz Experience 

June 20, 2007 Update

The recordings of the finalists to the 12th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival are now up on the Jazz at Lincoln Center website.  You can listen to the three selections each of the 15 finalists played at the competition.


June 10, 2007 at 12:08 am 16 comments

More sight-seeing in New York

statue of liberty

This is the third of my four-part photo album of Reggie’s trip to New York

The very first day the River East Collegiate group arrived in New York, they went on a walking tour of the city that afternoon.  They saw Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, etc. 

The following days, when they were not at the Jazz at the Lincoln Center, they were walking through Midtown and Manhattan.  It was on the second day when they dropped by the Today Show on NBC.  Reggie and his friend Clay were on camera for about four seconds.  I missed it.  I was watching Good Morning America on ABC. 

They also went to the Ed Sullivan Theatre where the Late Show with David Letterman is taped.  And if you watch this show, you must be familiar with Rupert from Hello Deli.  Reggie got to meet Rupert and even took a video clip and they had a picture together too.

They also went to the Grand Central Terminal, The New York Public Library, Central Park, Times Square, Ground Zero, Ellis Island, etc.

When they were starting to line up to go to the ferry that would bring them to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty, there was this street musician who was then starting to pack up.  When he learned that the group was from Canada, he stayed and played “O Canada,” our national anthem, much to the delight of the group.

You can see more pictures at My New York Photo Album.

Next time: New York – A Jazz Experience.

Radio City Music Hall  Rockefeller

Late Show  Ellis Island

A New York Experience Photo Album: 

Part 1 – The Sights of New York
Part 2 – Shopping in New York
Part 3 – More sight-seeing in New York
Part 4 – New York – A Jazz Experience

June 6, 2007 at 11:51 am 11 comments

Shopping in New York

This is the second of my four-part photo album of Reggie’s trip to New York.

Reggie and his group visited not only Toys R Us, but also FAO Schwarz, another huge toy store and was made famous by the Tom Hanks’ starrer “BIG,” where his character wished he were big and he became an adult overnight.  Remember that scene where Tom Hanks played the big electronic floor piano?  Well, Reggie got to play that piano, too.

They also visited Tiffany & Co., another store that was prominent in a Hollywood movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” starring Audrey Hepburn.  Reggie has watched this movie several times and owns not just a copy of this movie but also other movies of Audrey Hepburn.  At first I thought that he just fell in love with the song “Moon River,” which Audrey sang at “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but I think he’s also in love with the young Audrey Hepburn. He has a movie poster of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which he bought in Brandon, Manitoba when they went there for the spring jazz festival.

You can see more pictures of the stores they went to and passed by on their walking tours at my My New York Photo Album.

More New York pictures next time.

lollipops BIG piano

Tiffany & Co. Toys R Us

A New York Experience Photo Album: 

Part 1 – The Sights of New York
Part 2 – Shopping in New York
Part 3 – More sight-seeing in New York
Part 4 – New York – A Jazz Experience

June 4, 2007 at 11:15 pm 18 comments

The Sights of New York

When Reggie came back from Chicago last year and brought home over 250 pictures, I thought that was a lot.  This time, he brought home over 400 photos from New York plus four video clips.  I didn’t even know that I could make video clips from my Canon PowerShot A520 digital camera.  And I’ve had it for two years now.

I thought I could only choose a few photos to summarize his trip, just like I did with his Chicago photo album.  But there are just too many photos that I’d like to share.  I narrowed it down to about a hundred.  So this will be a four-part series.

The picture that most amuses me is the “No standing” sign on the streets. Reggie said that if anybody do stand still, a policeman will approach the person and tell them to keep walking.  The streets are just too crowded and I guess it’s not in your best interest if you don’t go with the flow.

And I was surprised when he told me that sandwiches at the delis where they mostly ate are $15.00 a piece.  So expensive.

They rode the subway.  We don’t have subways here in Winnipeg, so that’s a first for him.

One more thing I noticed is that there are a lot of tall buildings, huge billboards, taxicabs and just too many people.

You can view the pictures at My New York Photo Album.  Don’t forget to read my captions.

Next time, I’ll share pictures of the many stores and landmarks of New York.

new york 

A New York Experience Photo Album: 

Part 1 – The Sights of New York
Part 2 – Shopping in New York
Part 3 – More sight-seeing in New York
Part 4 – New York – A Jazz Experience

June 3, 2007 at 12:36 am 26 comments

Letting go

reg on the way to brandonThe only worry I had last night was that I won’t hear my alarm clock and then Reggie would miss his 6:30 a.m. flight to New York.  So I told him to also set his alarm just in case I don’t hear mine.  I did go to bed earlier than usual.  I was in bed at 10:30 p.m.  That was way too early for me as I usually go to bed at 1:00 a.m.  

I did hear the alarm when it went off at 3:30 a.m.  I fixed breakfast while Reggie was in the shower.  I woke up his dad at 4:00 and we were all in the car by 4:30.  Reggie had to be at the airport at 5:15. 

As I sat at the front seat, I thought, so this is it.  After months of preparing for this trip, he was finally leaving.  We were just pulling up to Henderson Highway when my eyes started to well up and tears rolled down my cheeks. 

I was just talking to Lisa yesterday about Reggie leaving and how I cried when he first went away to winter camp in sixth grade.  And he was only gone for three days then.  And how I still cry whenever he goes out of town on these band competitions and festivals.  “I know it’s silly,” I told her.  “But I just can’t help it.”  She said she also knew about the grade six winter camping and that she thinks that she would also cry when it’s her son’s turn to go, which is still in two years since he’s only in fourth grade now.  

I know I told Lisa that I always cry.  But I also thought that maybe since I already talked about it, perhaps I wouldn’t cry anymore this time.  But there we were, just a couple of blocks from home and I was already crying.  Then again, I thought, it’s good that I let these tears out now while I’m still in the car, get it over with and maybe I won’t cry at the airport anymore. 

We got there in time.  Some of the kids were already there.  There were also a few parents.  The three chaperones were also there.  Reggie met up with his friends.  They were taking turns getting their boarding passes on the electronic machine.  Then they checked in their baggage.  I saw Iian’s dad and chatted with him for a while. 

At around 5:30 a.m., the principal, who was also going with them to New York, told them to gather upstairs at the second floor.  They could buy coffee if they wanted and they would wait there until 6:00.  My husband and I also went upstairs and so did the other parents. 

The kids, or I should say the teen-agers, gathered together talking amongst themselves.  Reggie was talking to Iian and their friends.  Some sat down with their parents.  I saw one of the boys had his arms around his mother, her head against his shoulder.  I could tell that he was consoling her.  I knew how she was feeling.  When she walked away, I saw her wipe her eyes.  Then one of the girls told her, “It’s a good thing.  We’ll be back real soon.”  The mom asked her something.  And then she said, “My dad dropped me off.”  But I bet you that her own mom must also be feeling a little bit lonely even though this trip is a good experience for these kids. 

At around 6:00 a.m., the principal said, “Alright ladies and gentlemen, we have to check in at the gate now.  Don’t just turn away.  Wave to your parents or give them a hug.”  I’m glad that she said that.  Iian stood up from his seat, followed by Reggie.  Iian went up to his dad and gave him a hug.  Reggie went towards me and also gave me a hug.  He doesn’t usually hug me but I’m glad that he did.  I hugged him back and stroked his back.  “Okay, you go now,” I told him in my crackling voice.  Darn, I should have brought the box of Kleenex with me. 

We still followed them up to the departure gate.  “I want to go too,” one of the dads said.  “Me too,” I said.  I asked Iian’s dad if he had ever been to New York.  He said no.  I said that I have never been to anywhere.  Then he said, “Yes, you have traveled halfway around the world.”  I said, “Well, yeah, but that’s different.”  He said, “of course, that’s for family reasons.”  And then we talked about how these kids are lucky that they get this opportunity to travel while they are still young.  We never had anything like this when we were still in school. 

At around 6:15 a.m. they were all checked in.  My husband said that he’d go to the washroom before we leave.  I also said that I would go.  And of course, once I was alone by myself, I started to cry again.  Darn it, I only have two sheets of Kleenex left in my purse.  I rolled out a long piece of toilet paper and used it to wipe my tears and blow my nose.  Looking at the mirror, I tried to fix myself up before I went out. 

Somehow the drive back home took longer.  He took a different path.  We were still driving when the clock read 6:30 a.m.  They are taking off now, I thought.  Tears just kept flowing and I cried silently in the car, wiping my tears with my hand, trying to save my remaining tissues.   

I know that he’d be back before I know it and that this experience is really good for him especially since he’s pursuing a career in jazz music.  I also know that I should let him spread his wings but it’s just too darn hard to let go.

senior jazz band

This is the River East Collegiate’s senior jazz band, one of the 15 finalists in the 12th Annual Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival at Jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York City.  This is the only Canadian group that made it to the finals so we are very proud of these young talented musicians.

Related posts:

Essentially Ellington

River East jazz band on the Herald

He is an explorer of music and …

On winter camping 

Growing pains (x3)

Chicago – A Music and Arts Experience 

May 3, 2007 at 10:02 pm 42 comments

Applying for a Canadian Passport

canadian passport

Late last year, it was all over the news how Canadians would now need a passport when traveling by air to the U.S. as of January 23, 2007, as a way of enhancing security at U.S. borders.  Before this, Canadians only needed to show either their birth certificates or Citizenship cards.  We also watched on the news how long the lines were at passport offices all over Canada.  

So when I learned that Reggie’s senior jazz band made it to the Essentially Ellington Competition in New York, I knew we had to get started right away on applying for his passport. 

Since I am always very busy and he’s always on the internet anyway, I told him to search on how to apply for a Canadian passport. 

He found the Passport Canada website and he started to fill out the application on line.  He didn’t finish filling up the application in one sitting but he was able to save his document on line and he would get back to it when he had the chance. 

It was the first week of March when he asked me for my maiden name.  It was one of the questions asked.  I looked at his application just to see how it’s coming along and I checked the information he had typed on there.  He was filling up the Adult Passport Application (for Canadians 16 years of age or over).   So that was interesting to know that he’s applying as an adult. He needed two references who are not his relatives and have known him for at least two years.  He wrote down the names of his band director and a classmate.  I told him that maybe scrap the classmate and I’d ask a family friend instead. 

He also needed at least one document to support his identity and it must include the bearer’s name and signature.  There was a list of documents that could be used, which includes driver’s licence and provincial health care card.  Since he doesn’t have a driver’s licence, I thought that he could use my health care card.  But upon reading the requirements again, I realized that he is not the bearer of that card and his name is just there because he is my dependent. 

So I called the Passport Office the next day, to ask if he could use his Social Insurance Card.  As I expected, the line was busy and I was on hold for quite a while.  Instead of playing music in the background, the passport office has recorded messages about applying for a passport.  And when I heard that it would now take 45 days to process the application, I counted the days until he has to leave and I calculated close to 45 days.  I started to get worried.  What if he doesn’t get it back before he has to leave? 

I finally talked to a representative after 20 minutes and I asked if he could use his SIN card.  Yes, he said.  I further explained that this is the SIN card I had applied for him when he was still little because he needed one for the college fund I had applied for him and his brothers.  Does it have his signature on it, he asked.  Not yet, but I will let him sign it.  Yes, then he said. 

That night, I helped Reggie finish filling up his application.  The following day, we had his passport pictures taken at Wal-Mart on his lunch break.  While waiting for his turn, I read over the photo requirements.  It said there that facial expression must be neutral, not frowning or smiling with the mouth closed.  I pointed that out to him.  Glasses may be worn as long as the eyes are clearly visible.  So I was surprised when the lady photographer asked him to take off his glasses.  She also gave him a sheet of tissue to wipe his forehead.  For it also said on the requirements that there must not be a flash reflection on the face.   

We had to wait for 30 minutes before his pictures were developed.  And when she handed it to us, I made sure that it had the photographer’s stamp on the back and a spot for the guarantor’s signature.  His school principal had told us that she could sign the students’ passport applications when we had a meeting about their trip to New York.  So when Reggie went back to school that afternoon, he brought his application papers and pictures and asked the principal to sign them. 

I asked Reggie to skip his first class the following morning just so we could go to the Passport Office and hand in his application.  I also told my supervisor that I would be starting work late. 

We got there at 7:40 a.m.  The doors were still closed as they open at 8:00 a.m.  But a guy in uniform came out when he heard us rattling the doorknobs.  He asked Reggie if he filled out his application by hand or on the internet.  He told him the latter and he was given a number, C505.  Apparently, two series of numbers were being given to the applicants, one series for those who filled out theirs by hand and another for those printed from the computer.  Reggie was the fifth one on his series.  We were told to go to the basement and wait there.  The passport guy would come down to get 10 people from each group at 8:00 a.m. 

So we went downstairs and there were already about 40 people there.  There were only a few chairs and most of the people were sitting on the floor.  Reggie also sat on the floor while I remained standing. At 8:00 on the dot, the same guy came down to get the first group of people.  And that included us.  There were about 7 staff on the counter and when Reggie’s number came up, we handed his papers to a younger guy.  He checked his application, birth certificate, SIN card and photos.  I paid the $87 fee.  I asked when we would be getting his passport.  He said by the end of March, that’s about in 20 days time.  So I was relieved.  It was quick.  We were at the bus stop at 8:10 a.m. 

I noticed that it’s a lot quicker if you have your application printed on the computer.  There are more people filling up their application by hand and that’s the reason they have a longer line.  So if you are applying for a passport, I suggest that you have yours printed from the website at 

We received his passport through Xpress post on the first week of this month.  So I am quite relieved now.  But I still have to pay the balance of his $2000 trip.  The senior jazz band is having a benefit concert next week.  So I hope the proceeds from that could help reduce the cost of this trip to New York.

April 12, 2007 at 9:29 pm 44 comments

Essentially Ellington

senior jazz band

Two weeks ago, Reggie’s Senior Jazz Band performed at the Optimist International Jazz Band Festival at Glenlawn Collegiate.  They performed two Ellington pieces:  Jumpin’ Punkins, Mood Indigo, and one Mingus piece:  Nostalgia in Times Square.  Like the Wind Ensemble Band’s performance at the Convention Centre two weeks earlier, the Jazz Band also received great reviews from the adjudicator. 

The adjudicators, by the way, on this Music Festivals, are professional musicians who give them feedback on their playing.  That night, their adjudicator was a lady bassist named Jodi.  “Beautiful music.”  “Classy.”  “Pristine.”  “You were all in tune.”  These are just some of the words she used to describe the Senior Jazz Band.   

The only suggestion she made was to make it dirtier.  “That’s how Duke Ellington played his music and also the other musicians of his time,” she said.  She told the young musicians to use their hips instead of their upper body when playing their instruments.  Give it some sex.  Just imagine what the parents were thinking when she mentioned the S-word to these 16- to 18-year old kids.  😉  Then she explained that she didn’t want them to DO IT, but rather to express that passion in the music.   

And since she is a bassist herself, she showed the band’s bassist how to play it dirtier.  You should have seen his red face. “Don’t be polite,” she said.   “We, Canadians, are known for being polite.  Give it some edge,” she added.  She said that she had been to New York, and that’s how they do it over there.  

She asked the band to play a little something from one of the pieces they played.  “I finally heard that girth,” she said to the band’s bassist.   

She said that she enjoyed their performance.  “It made my weekend,” were her parting words.


This is the same jazz band that’s going to New York.  They are the only Canadian group that made it to the 12th Annual Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City this spring. 

River East Collegiate was one of the 15 finalist bands, the rest of which are American.  Eighty-eight bands entered the competition by submitting recordings of their performances of three Ellington songs.  The two Ellington songs the senior jazz band played at the Festival were also two of the three songs that they submitted. 

I think it’s pretty cool that they made it.  The school is asking for funding from major corporations here in Winnipeg to help the parents pay for this expensive trip for these young musicians.  And they are also thinking of a few fundraising events. 

I just hope that somebody from a major corporation reads this and gets interested in helping out. Just imagine.  They’re the only Canadian group.  I think that’s something.


I will see if I can get Reggie download a copy of their CD, or at least one song, so that I could upload it on this website.  I will also try to learn how to upload the video from my camcorder to our computer so that I could share it with you.

May 28, 2007 Update:

Here are the links to the videos:

Nostalgia in Times Square and C Jam Blues 

March 18, 2007 at 11:30 pm 26 comments