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Arts and Culture

Awards affirm jazz excellence at Pacific

May 20, 2019

Brubeck institute jazz quartet
2018-19 Brubeck Insitute Jazz Quartet

Jazz Ensemble
Pacific Jazz Ensemble led by Patrick Langham

The sweet sounds produced by University of the Pacific students in the Conservatory of Music's Jazz Studies Program were heard around the country this year, proving once again the nationally recognized quality of its students and faculty.

That excellence was rewarded along the way with prizes at leading jazz festivals and competitions. Pacific's flagship jazz combo, the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quartet, was named the top undergraduate small jazz combo by DownBeat Magazine for the ninth time since the group's first win in 2007. The combo group will be known as the Pacific Jazz Ambassadors beginning fall 2019.

Pacific's Jazz Ensemble returned from Reno Jazz Festival in April with several awards, including first place in the four-year College Band Division and first place in the College Combo Division. Kate Williams '22 was named Outstanding College Performer for her skill with the trumpet and Micah Collier '22 was named Outstanding College Performer for rhythm section.

"Over the year, I have really grown to love the Pacific jazz family," Williams said. "It was satisfying to win awards, but it was even more gratifying to play some great music with some of my best friends."

Pacific's students, such as Fernando Lozano '20, who performed with Pacific Jazz Ensemble in Reno, understands that working in a team is as important as honing solo and improvisation skills.

"All of my fellow jazz colleagues worked extremely hard for this year's Reno Jazz Festival," Lozano said. "I am thankful to be a part of a program with such dedicated individuals who support and encourage each other to be great musicians and representatives of Pacific's Conservatory of Music. We are all extremely honored to have received these awards and recognition in such a competitive music festival."

Pacific's jazz students perform regularly at leading festivals and jazz competitions, and in the past academic year played at Pacific's Brubeck Festival in Stockton, the Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, the California All-State Music Education Conference in Fresno, the Jazz Education Network Conference in Reno, and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

"I'm extremely proud of our students," said Patrick Langham, director of Pacific Jazz Studies Program. "While Pacific competed previously at Reno Jazz Festival, this is the first time we were selected as first place winners and invited to perform as the closing group for the festival's showcase. This is another testament to the high level of student performance and quality jazz education provided by Pacific's jazz studies faculty."

Pacific's Conservatory of Music for the past 140 years has produced talented musicians, conductors, music therapists, educators, opera singers and jazz performers, and will continue to do so.

"The university and the conservatory's support of jazz is unwavering," Langham said. "We've built a very distinctive program at Pacific and we look forward to expanding those accomplishments in the future."

Other individual student achievements include:

  • Ryan Clark '19, who this month received a bachelor's degree in jazz studies, earned an Outstanding Soloist Award in the College Vocal Jazz Ensemble Division at 2019 Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey in April.
  • Evan Abounassar, a Brubeck Fellow in 2017-18, won a DownBeat Award for Outstanding Composition in the Undergraduate College category in April 2019. 

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