St. Olaf Jazz 1 recognized by DownBeat Magazine
St. Olaf Jazz 1 continues to make its mark, adding another award to its roster.
Led by music faculty member David Hagedorn, St. Olaf Jazz 1 was awarded “Outstanding Performance by Large Undergraduate Jazz Ensemble” in DownBeat Magazine’s 42nd Annual Student Music Awards. Results were announced in the magazine’s June edition.
This is the second time St. Olaf Jazz 1 has been honored by the publication, having previously been named “Best Large Undergraduate Jazz Ensemble” — DownBeat’s top prize in the category — in 2011.
Viewed by many as the leading voice in jazz, DownBeat Magazine has recognized the achievements of student music and academic jazz programs since the 1970s. The Student Music Awards (SMA) are among the highest of honors an individual and group can receive in the field of jazz education.
St. Olaf Jazz 1 was selected for the SMA after Hagedorn submitted recordings of three selections from the ensemble’s 2018 Fall Concert: “Fast Lane” by Carla Bley, “Big Sky” by Mike Holober, and “Golpe de Comaco” by Luis Perdomo, arranged by Vince Norman. All three pieces can be listened to through the archived stream of the concert.
The judging process is completely blind; DownBeat judges have no idea who’s playing on any given track they’re critiquing. Each submission is simply given a number, and based on what a judge hears, ultimately ranked. After 10 years of submitting recordings to DownBeat, St. Olaf Jazz’s name came out on top for a second time.
“When we won the first award in 2011, I was screaming,” Hagedorn says. “This time, I just started laughing, I was so happy. It’s an honor to win an award of this caliber, and I’m incredibly thankful.”
St. Olaf Jazz Conductor David HagedornWhen we won the first award in 2011, I was screaming. This time, I just started laughing, I was so happy. It’s an honor to win an award of this caliber, and I’m incredibly thankful.
Hagedorn took the reins of St. Olaf’s jazz ensembles in 1997, and has overseen the program’s steady growth in size, skill, and repertoire. When he started, all three jazz groups played in a single 2-hour concert each semester, performing fairly standard repertoire. Today, each of the three ensembles perform their own concert and cover a wider range of musical styles including swing, be-bop, fusion, funk, salsa, and Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and New Orleans grooves.
“These students are talented, and this is the real deal,” Hagedorn says. “This award gives credence to the musical talent and ability that’s present at St. Olaf and in the jazz program. I’m proud of them. These students face an additional challenge, because unlike many professional groups, we’re trying to sound like 10 different groups. It’s what education is about. For me, this is an affirmation of my teaching and what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years.”
This award gives credence to the musical talent and ability that’s present at St. Olaf and in the jazz program.St. Olaf Jazz Conductor David Hagedorn
Hagedorn also credits the jazz faculty at St. Olaf for the exceptional talent he gets to work with each week. Specifically, he credits the work of faculty members Sarah Burk (jazz piano), Phil Hey (jazz drum set), and Pete Whitman (jazz saxophone).
“We have outstanding upperclassmen in key positions and standout players all throughout the band this year,” Hagedorn says. “It’s been extremely difficult keeping quiet about the news of this award during these last few rehearsals, and I’m thrilled I can now share in their excitement.”
The award-winning St. Olaf Jazz 1 has a spring concert on Friday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. in The Pause at St. Olaf. It is free and open to the public. The concert will be streamed live and archived online.