College of Fine Arts and Design

UCO Top Jazz Ensemble Named Best In The Nation By Downbeat Magazine

May 14, 2011

The University of Central Oklahoma’s top student jazz ensemble was recently named the “Best Large Jazz Ensemble” in the collegiate category of Downbeat Magazine’s 35th Annual Student Music Awards.           

“The Downbeat Award for ‘Best Large Collegiate Jazz Ensemble’ means a lot for the UCO Jazz Studies Division.  It means national recognition for our program,” said Brian Gorrell, head of the Central Jazz Studies Division and director of UCO’s top jazz ensemble.           

“This award puts us on the map.  It gets the word out beyond Oklahoma’s borders that UCO is a great place for jazz studies and performance,” he continued.           

All of the Downbeat student award-winners are listed in the most recent issue of the magazine.  Not only is Central listed as winner, but is mentioned in an article about the Large Jazz Ensemble award-winners.           

“When you think of America’s jazz centers, you might not immediately think of Oklahoma.  But this year’s undergraduate big band winners (UCO) are making a case for it,” Downbeat mentions.           

Downbeat Magazine, an American magazine devoted to “jazz, blues and beyond,” is considered the most prestigious jazz publication in the jazz world and has been giving awards for jazz performance since its inception in 1934.           

The student awards for jazz performance began in 1977.  Awards are given out to high school and college jazz soloists, ensembles, combos and groups in both the instrumental and vocal categories.  There are also award categories for jazz arrangement, original composition/orchestrated work and engineered live recording, among others.           

Judging performance criteria is based on overall sound, presence or authority, proper interpretation of idiom, improvisation or creativity, technique, intonation, phrasing, dynamics, accurate rhythm/time and material.

For further information about the UCO Jazz Studies Division, contact Gorrell at (405) 359-7989 or bgorrell@uco.edu.

For a complete listing of UCO Jazz Lab performances and events, visit www.ucojazzlab.com