Bothell’s Jazz Program is Only Going Up


Image Credit: Lydia Townsend

For generations, Bothell High School has had one of the best music programs in the state. The band director, Phillip Dean, has been teaching here for fifteen years. You may have seen him in the stands at Friday night football games or conducting his classes in the band room. But what he loves most is his Jazz program, which was one of the top fifteen bands chosen to go to a national festival in New York called Essentially Ellington. “It’s the Superbowl of all Jazz band competitions,” Dean says. Lead Alto Saxophone and Clarinet player, Aaron Mamula says, “being there was just the coolest thing ever. […] My favorite part was hearing all the bands, you could tell it was the result of all this work and passion.”

Dean says that he has been trying to get into Essentially Ellington every year since he has been teaching, with this year’s band having a pretty good shot at it. “We’re not done, it’s not a finish line. They got in and that was amazing, […] but we weren’t nearly the best group there. Winning Essentially Ellington would be the most epic thing.”

“What I think got them over the hump was that they believed that it was possible,” Dean says on the 2021-2022 Jazz 1 band. “Last year’s group didn’t have any shortage in beliefs in their work ethic or in anything. So that’s what I think got us into the festival.” This year, Dean believes that his band has what it takes to get to the festival in New York.