Clarence Acox Jr., an instrumental figure in the Seattle music scene, has nurtured young musicians for the past 35 years as director of jazz bands at Garfield High School. He leads the renowned Garfield Jazz Ensemble, winning dozens of awards and making regular appearances at national and international venues.
A native of New Orleans, La., Acox came to Seattle in 1971 straight out of Southern University, where he was recruited by Garfield High School to revive its moribund music program. Garfield's Jazz Ensemble has twice taken first place (in 2003 and 2004) at New York's Essentially Ellington National Jazz Band Competition and Festival at New York City's Lincoln Center - the country's most prestigious high school jazz competition. Under Acox's direction, the jazz ensemble has swept every major competition on the West Coast.
Acox, who also directs Seattle University's Jazz Ensemble, was named "Educator of the Year" by Down Beat Magazine in 2001. In 2004, the Seattle Music Educator's Association awarded him its "Outstanding Music Educator" award.
An accomplished and in-demand drummer, Acox co-founded the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra in 1995 and performed with the Floyd Standifer Quartet (now Legends Quartet) at the New Orleans Creole Restaurant for more than two decades.
In August, 2007, Clarence Acox was awarded the Mayor's Arts Award by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.