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Mix Of Nerves, Excitement For Students Playing At Essentially Ellington Competition

Parker Miles Blohm
Mountlake Terrace students, playing in a recent KNKX Studio Session, are from one of three high schools from the state participating in the annual competition.

Three high schools from Western Washington are part of this year’s Essentially Ellington competition: Mountlake Terrace, Ballard and Roosevelt. Students in each of the jazz bands will be playing with a dozen other top-ranked schools from across the country on the Rose Hall stage at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

KNKX Morning Edition Producer Ariel Van Cleave sat down to talk with two students from Mountlake Terrace ahead of the trip to New York: Senior Ethan Pyke, who plays trombone and Junior Benjamin Leonard, who plays tenor sax.

Mountlake Terrace and Roosevelt high schools perform Friday during the first part of the competition, which begins at 11 a.m., PST. Ballard High School performs during the second part of the competition on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m., PST.

A live stream of all the performances and announcement of the winners is available at 


Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.