UNT students sweep DownBeat awards

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Students and ensembles in the jazz studies program of the University of North Texas College of Music were recognized 16 times with DownBeat Student Music Awards this year — more than any other institution. The prestigious awards will be announced in the June issue of the national jazz magazine.

“For our students to be recognized 16 times in this year’s DownBeat Student Music Awards, after earning 15 recognitions last year, is really something special,” said John Murphy, chairman of the Division of Jazz Studies. “The awards are among the most significant awards that students in our field can receive. Two aspects of this year’s results are especially noteworthy. First, the large number of vocal performances, compositions and arrangements recognized — 10 out of the 16 — which is a credit to the work of our vocal students and their mentors, Jennifer Barnes and Rosana Eckert. Second, the prominence of Latin jazz in the music that was recognized, including the music of our Latin Jazz Lab, directed by Jose Aponte. This demonstrates the strength and diversity of our program.”

Nine award winners, in both graduate and undergraduate divisions, were from UNT:

■ Jazz soloist, undergraduate: alto saxophone player Drew Zaremba (faculty mentor Brad Leali) and bassist Brian Ward (faculty mentor Lynn Seaton);

■ Jazz soloist, graduate: pianist Sergio Pamies (faculty mentor Stefan Karlsson);

■ Blues/pop/rock soloist, graduate: saxophone player Aaron Hedenstrom (faculty mentor Brad Leali);

■ Blues/pop/rock group, graduate: the Refrigerators, with group leader Brian Ward and faculty mentor Lynn Seaton;

■ Latin group, undergraduate: UNT Latin Jazz Lab, directed by Jose Aponte;

■ Original composition, lead sheet, graduate: Emily Merrill for “Ondine’s Dance” (faculty mentor Rosana Eckert);

■ Original composition, orchestrated work, undergraduate: Drew Zaremba for “Race to the Finish” (faculty mentor Richard DeRosa); and

■ Jazz arrangement, graduate: Monica Gastelumendi for “Barco Ciego” (faculty mentor Jennifer Barnes).

■ UNT students and groups were recognized for seven outstanding performances:

■ Vocal jazz group, graduate: Laura Otero and Payawarú (faculty mentor Stefan Karlsson);

■ Large vocal jazz ensemble, graduate: UNT Jazz Singers, directed by Jennifer Barnes;

■ Blues/pop/rock group, graduate: Sarah Kervin Group (faculty mentor Rosana Eckert);

■ Latin group, graduate: Laura Otero Colombian Project (faculty mentor Rosana Eckert);

Original composition, lead sheet, graduate: Laura Otero for “Nuestra Canción” (faculty mentor Rosana Eckert);

■ Vocal jazz soloist, graduate: Monica Gastelumendi (faculty mentor Rosana Eckert); and

■ Jazz arrangement, graduate: Sarah Kervin for “Glitter in the Air” (faculty mentor Rosana Eckert).

The DownBeat Student Music Awards were founded in 1976. The awards are considered the most prestigious in jazz education.

Hundreds of musicians, educators and music industry professionals earned their first international recognition as student award winners.

Scores have been featured in the magazine and have won either critics’ or readers’ poll honors.

— Staff report

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