Congratulations to the East St. Louis Senior High Jazz Band!

Phil Dunlap

Anyone familiar with the history of jazz in  St. Louis and its neighbor East St. Louis, will regale you with tales of the famed East St. Louis Lincoln High School jazz band program under the direction of saxophonist Ron Carter (now Director of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University).

When Carter took over the program  in 1977, the enrollment  had dwindled to 15 students. Within two years, more than 100 were enrolled in music programs, touring Europe, making records and playing to international acclaim alongside legends like Wynton Marsalis.  Carter led the program in East St. Louis  for 18 years  producing some of today’s greatest jazz musicians, including Russell Gunn, Reggie Thomas, Tony Suggs, Terreon Gully and Montez Coleman to name a few.

The music program at Lincoln fell apart shortly after Ron left in 1995 to take over the program at NIU.  Since then it has struggled to stay afloat until one of his students, Delano Redmond, returned six years ago to teach music alongside John Barnes at East St. Louis Senior High (Lincoln has since been razed).

In 2008, Jazz St. Louis formed a relationship with the music department at East St. Louis Senior High, bringing it into our Adopt-a-School program.  Since then we have been able to support the department by providing instruments for and artists to work with the students.  Artists that have been to the high school under the Adopt-a-School banner include Greg Osby, Rodney Whitaker, The Clayton Brothers, Terell Stafford, Mulgrew Miller and Terence Blanchard.

Without going into too much more history, there have been a lot of struggles, but Delano has managed to grow the jazz program to a point where the band is a force to be reckoned with once again.

In another huge leap forward, yesterday Delano was informed that the band has been selected as one of 15 bands from across the US as finalists in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington high school jazz band festival.  This year 110 bands vied for one of these coveted 15 spots and one of the programs in our very own backyard has been chosen for this honor.

So, congratulations to Delano and the students of East St. Louis Senior High’s jazz band.  You have worked tirelessly and hard and deserve this honor.

5 Comments

  1. margo garvin
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Phil-such great news. Appreciate the headsup. Margo garvin

  2. donald c. brooks
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I am so proud of the flyers going to the big apple and competing in the jazz championship. Having graduated from East Side in 1961 I still follow and support my school and I am especially proud of the fact that my nephew, Jerome Craig who plays alto sax is a part of the band. I will be in New York to see in person their fantastic achievement. Congratulations Flyers and congratulations and thank you to the band leader Delano Redmond.

  3. Tammy
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I would like to congratulate my son, Marvin Cooper along with his bandmates at East St Louis Sr High School. Keep up the good work. Continue to make East St Louis proud. Have a safe trip to New York… WE LOVE YOU All….
    Mr Barnes & Mr Redmond much LOVE & RESPECT…
    THANK YOU for all you do…

  4. Errol
    Posted July 9, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I want to first of all say thanks to all of those extremely talented students that came before. ESTL continues to produce great,indivisuals and hopefully they continue there efforts in music. I was associated with be one of the strong forces that made the former Lincoln Jazz Band, remimbered as a force to be reconed with. I worked with the rythem sections for all seventeens years. You know we had some great times in the halls and the aud. Something special in the works!
    I was know known as “evil-E”, but it was really Errol Allen.

  5. Posted September 17, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    About jazz history in St. Louis, the father of all jazz trumpet players was Charles Cirill Creath, b. 1895 in Ironton. I am looking for a mean to check his presence at Lincoln High School in the early years of the last century. Is there any one in the jazz community who could help me as I proved unable to reach the school? I would need to reach their archivist. I thank you in advance. Keep Swinging, Dan Vernhettes, Paris, France

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