Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra trombonist Chris Crenshaw works with the Dillard jazz band.

Amid the hoopla over the Miami Heat’s march to an NBA title repeat, let’s not forget there’s another South Florida squad defending a national title next month.  Like the Heat, there are a limited number of opportunities to see them before the playoffs, but in this case, all the starters will play.

The jazz band at Fort Lauderdale's Dillard Center for the Arts will again take on 15 bands from around the country in the finals of the prestigious Essentially Ellington competition May 10-12 at Lincoln Center in New York. This is the fourth straight year the DCA band has made the finals in the so-called “Super Bowl of high school jazz competitions,” and they’ll be going for their third straight national title.

On April 20,  the orchestra will perform its  “Sweet Dillard Jazz” program from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Dillard Performing Arts Auditorium (2501 NW  11th St., Fort Lauderdale). The evening of music and complimentary desserts will  raise money for the jazz education program at Dillard and help fund the  band’s trip to New York.

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Info:  DCAJazz.com.

And being the polite, well-raised kids that they are, the next day the band will give the community a “thank you” with a free outdoor performance of Duke Ellington compositions at the pleasant ArtsPark in Hollywood’s Young Circle.

The concert is from 1 to 3 p.m. April 21. Blankets, chairs, picnic baskets and well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome.

Photo: Mike Stocker, Sun Sentinel

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