Led by Newark Academy Jazz Director and saxophonist Julius Tolentino, Chameleon earned “Outstanding Rhythm Section” at the 24th Annual Essentially Ellington Competition on May 11, 2019. In addition, several NA musicians earned individual recognition: Outstanding Bass: Vikram Bala ’20, Honorable Mention Clarinet: Allen Lin ’19, Honorable Mention Piano: Luca Moretti ’20, Honorable Mention Vocals: Samantha Powell ’19, and Outstanding Alto Sax: Michael Wang ’21. Last year Chameleon earned 2nd Place overall. The Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival takes place every May at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The festival is aimed at encouraging young musicians to play music by Duke Ellington and other jazz musicians. This was Chameleon’s 5th year performing at this highly prestigious festival.
See Chameleon perform “Stablemates” at the 2019 competition here: https://youtu.be/bVsoEzEK7OU
Newark Academy prides itself on its strong arts programs, including Visual Arts, Dance, Film, Theatre and Vocal and Instrumental Music. The Chameleon Jazz Band has been involved in state and national competitions, placing first in New Jersey’s State Jazz Band Competition the last nine years (2010-2018), the Mingus Competition (2014, 2015), the Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival (2018). Chameleon has been one of the fifteen finalists in the prestigious Essentially Ellington Festival and Competition in 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Members of the big band are also involved in other auditioned groups such as Jazz House Kids, Jazz for Teens, Jazz Regions, Jazz All States, Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, and the Grammy Session Band. The band is honored to have had the opportunity to work with talented clinicians such as Eddie Bert, Vincent Gardner, Steve Turre, Victor Goines, Steve Davis, David Gibson, Bob Cranshaw, Alvin Atkinson, Marcus Printup, Kenny Rampton, Andre Hayward, Bob Cranshaw, and Ali Jackson to name a few.
Newark Academy Jazz Director Julius Tolentino, founder of JTole Music, has been a staple of the New York jazz scene for over 20 years. In this capacity, he has played and recorded with numerous small groups and big bands including Louis Haye’s Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band and the Louis Hayes Quartet, Eric Reed’s Sextet, Jeremy Pelt’s Quintet, Natalie Cole, Wycliffe Gordon, Connie Francis, Gloria Gaynor, the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, the Christian McBride Big Band, Cecile Mclorin, Michael Feinstein, Dianne Reeves, Jimmy Heath, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He joined Newark Academy as Jazz Director in 2007, and currently conducts five nationally known student ensembles. His groups have won and been finalists in national festivals and competitions, including Essentially Ellington (2012-2018), the Charles Mingus Competition (2011-2018) and the Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival. At the state level, Newark Academy has won first place at the NJAJE State Finals for nine years running, from 2010-2018.