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LaGrangeville, NY - The Arlington HS Jazz Machine has been logging many miles on the road this year. After a successful performance at the Jazz Education Network National Conference in New Orleans in early January, the Jazz Machine returned to Rockville, MD for the third year in a row to compete in the 11th annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival High School Big Band Competition on Feb. 15, 2020. After placing 2nd in their first appearance at the MAJF in 2018, and an exciting 1st place finish in 2019, the Jazz Machine was eager to return to the festival looking to achieve another successful appearance. The festival took place over 3 days, from Feb. 14-16, 2020 at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Center in Rockville. In addition to performances all weekend long by professional, college, high school, and middle school jazz ensembles, there are also clinics, master classes, jam sessions, and performances by some of the biggest names in jazz today. 

In the high school big band competition, 15 bands from 6 different states in the Mid-Atlantic region performed in a day-long preliminary round on Saturday, Feb 15. Beginning at 8:30am and finishing around 4:30pm, the bands performed for a panel of top jazz educators, musicians, and performers, receiving written and verbal feedback from the experts. The top 3 ensembles from that round were then selected to move on to perform in the finals competition that evening. The Arlington Jazz Machine was selected as one of the top 3 finalists to move on to the evening finals round. Arlington senior drummer Michael Santiago was awarded one of the Outstanding Soloist Awards for his performance. Each finalist band is asked to perform 2 of the prelims selections of their choice for the evening’s competition. At the conclusion of the three band’s performances in the finals evening competition that evening, the Jazz Machine was awarded 2nd place! 

The 15  schools that participated in the preliminary round (in order of appearance) were:  Susan E Wagner HS (NY), Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS (MD), Walter Johnson HS (MD), Suitland HS (MD), Thomas S Wootton HS (MD), Winston Churchill HS (MD), TC Williams HS (VA), Cape Henlopen HS (DE), Jefferson HS (WV), Wakefield HS (VA), Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS (MD), Walter Johnson HS (MD), Walt Whitman HS (MD), Yorktown HS (VA), Washington-Liberty HS (VA), Lower Moreland HS (PA), and Arlington HS (NY). 

The top 3 finalist bands were the Jefferson HS Jazz Band from West Virginia  (1st place), the Arlington HS Jazz Machine (2nd place), and the Lower Moreland HS Jazz Ensemble from Pennsylvania (3rd). 

The Jazz Machine performed four musical selections, each of which varied greatly in style. Those program selections were: 

TIME CHECK by Don Menza 

Soloists were: Michael Santiago, Drums; Eric Waters, Tenor Sax

PYRAMID by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol 

Soloists were: Nick Grippo, Trombone; Eric Waters, Bari Sax; Nick Alvarez, Clarinet; Azalea Bailey, Trumpet; Christian Kuklis, Tenor Sax. 

SAMANTHA by Sammy Nestico

Soloist was: Helena Lent, Alto Sax

MOVIN’ UPTOWN by Benny Carter 

Soloists were: Aidan Davidson, Trombone; Christian Anthony Mandel, Guitar; Eric Waters, Tenor Sax; Dan Isak, Trumpet; Mike Santiago, Drums. 

The members of the 2020 Arlington Jazz Machine are: Nicholas Alvarez, Phoebe Anderson, Azalea Bailey, Ryan Baker, Todd Caputo, Aidan Davidson, Caleb Duden, Annelise Herschbein, Nicholas Grippo, Daniel Isak, Declan Jimick, Ryan King, Christian Kuklis, Helena Lent, Christian Anthony Mandel, Jake Nathanson, Cole Quinby, Michael Santiago, Aidan Sears, and Eric Waters.

The Jazz Machine is under the direction of Richard Guillen, Arlington High School director of bands and music department coordinator.  For more information on the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival visit, and to follow the Arlington Jazz Machine on social media, go to