The U.S. Army Blues Solo Competition

The U.S. Army Blues Solo Competition

2023 Winners

Congratulations to our 2023 Solo Competition winners Christian Ertl and Elijah Lester! Please join us for a free concert at Severna Park High School in Severna Park MD on Monday, May 1st at 7:00 p.m. to hear them featured with The US Army Blues.

Christian Ertl - Collegiate Division

Christian Ertl is a jazz saxophonist based out of Philadelphia. He grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and won many outstanding soloist awards throughout high school at Waukee High School including an outstanding soloist award at the 2018 Iowa Jazz Championships. He also won a Downbeat Student Music Award with his high school band in 2018.

Christian decided to attend Temple University to pursue his career in music. While in college, he studied with some of the best musicians in the world such as Dick Oatts, Tim Warfield Jr, and Terell Stafford. In 2020, he was selected as the lead alto saxophonist in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Jazz Orchestra. He has also played with the Temple University Jazz Band since 2021 where they played at Rose Hall, Dizzy’s Club, the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, and various venues throughout Philadelphia with many incredible guest artists.

During his career, he has had the pleasure of playing with Dick Oatts, Christian McBride, Joey DeFrancesco, Terell Stafford, Sean Jones, Scott Wendholt, and Tim Armacost. He has also worked with many people at festivals and workshops including Matt Wilson, Dalfeyo Marsalis, Jim Snidero, Adam Larson, and Sherie Maricle.

Along with playing the saxophone, Christian Ertl is an educator, composer, and arranger. He received his Bachelors of Music degree in May 2022 from Temple University and is currently in his first year of graduate studies at Temple University in jazz performance.

Elijah Lester - High School Division

Elijah Lester is from Arlington Virginia and is a junior at Yorktown High School. He studies piano with Paul Bratcher and has performed under the tutelage of Paul Carr at the Jazz Academy of Music. His biggest musical influences include Kenny Kirkland, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Kelly, Chick Corea and Red Garland. His favorite recording is Straight No Filter by Hank Mobley and in his spare time he loves watching sports and movies with his family.

Past Winners

Collegiate Division

Year Winner School
2019 Brendan Malloy (Guitar) The University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
2020 Liam Sutcliffe (Trumpet) Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)
2021 Austin Ford (Trumpet) The University of North Texas (Denton, TX)
2022 Ben Turner (Guitar) Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)

High School Division

Year Winner School
2019 Nate Stanley (Guitar) Broadneck High School (Arnold, MD)
2020 Ronan Zwa (Saxophone) The Bullis School (Potomac, MD)
2021 Jonathan Orellana-Sanchez (Trumpet) Westfield High School (Chantilly, VA)
2022 Aiden Interrante (Trumpet) Mt. Hebron High School (Ellicott City, MD)

2019 U.S. Army Blues Solo Competition Winner Brendan Malloy

2019 U.S. Blues Solo Competition Winner Nate Stanley

The 2020 US Army Blues Solo Competition

The 2021 US Army Blues Solo Competition

The 2022 US Army Blues Solo Competition