2024 Hank Marr Winner Announced


Jett Gonzalez is Announced as the 2024 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award Recipient

The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (JAG) has announced its winner of the 2024 Hank Marr High School Jazz Award – saxophonist Jett Gonzalez. The award demonstrates excellence in musicianship and performance amongst young students of jazz in Ohio and comes with a cash prize of $500 along with an opportunity to perform with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, led by Byron Stripling.

Each year, Jazz Arts Group hosts the Hank Marr High School Jazz Award to showcase Ohio’s top young jazz musicians and honor the late pianist and B3 organist Hank Marr. Beginning each year in the spring, high schoolers across the state prepare their audition recordings and send them in for three to four finalists to be chosen. These finalists gather at the Jazz Academy in the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Columbus to perform before a panel of professional musicians and educators. After individual and group performances among the three finalists, one excellent musician is chosen as that year’s Hank Marr High School Jazz Award Winner. The winner sees their name etched into the plaque alongside each triumphant awardee since 2003. They earn a $500 cash prize and a stack of Jamey Aebersold play-along books for both them and their school. Most exciting, the winner joins the Columbus Jazz Orchestra on stage for a once in a lifetime experience to play with the band in its annual summer concert series!

Jett will perform with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra for Red White & Blues on July 5th at the Hinson Amphitheater


Columbus music legend Hank Marr was one of the world’s masters of the Hammond B3 organ. Along with Hank’s celebrity status as a member of the jazz elite, he was a dedicated and gifted educator. In recognition of over fifty years as a performer, teacher, arranger and conductor, the Jazz Arts Group established the Hank Marr High School Jazz Award as a tribute to this special individual. His willingness to “pass it on” makes the encouragement of young jazz artists an important and meaningful activity. Support for the Hank Marr High School Jazz Award comes from Crabbe, Brown, and James, Jamey Aebersold Jazz, Stanton’s Sheet Music, and Jazz Education Connection of Ohio. Additional support comes from individual contributors who knew and loved Hank Marr.

The adjudicators for the first round were Ben Huntoon, trumpet, retired Jazz Specialist at Stanton’s Sheet Music; Jake Smith, saxophone, private lessons teacher and Jazz Academy Faculty Member; and Ryan Hamilton, trombone, professor at Denison and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

The adjudicators for the final round of the competition were Bob Breithaupt, drums, retired Professor of Music at Capital University; Tom Carroll, guitar, retired Professor of Music at Denison University; and Mike Smith, drums, Professor of Music at The Ohio State University.


From the early age of 10, Jett Gonzalez has been a part of the Jazz Art Group’s programs growing his passion for jazz improvisation. He is a tenor saxophonist, senior at Bexley High School, and is 17 years old. This fall, Jett will attend the New England Conservatory for Jazz performance.

Two students received runner-up awards from the competition; Alex Hedrick, drums, and Ean Marin, saxophone. All three finalists have been active participants of the Columbus Youth Jazz program held at the Jazz Academy.