DownBeat magazine in its 36th annual Student Music Awards poll named two separate Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintets the best in the category that covers undergraduate college jazz groups. It is the first time two different Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintets have won the honor in the same year, and the sixth and seventh times overall in the Brubeck Institute’s 12-year history that the magazine has honored the group.
“What’s significant about this is that we are competing against people who are a year or two older than Quintet members, that is, juniors and seniors from across the country,” said Simon Rowe, Brubeck Institute executive director. “And we’re competing, of course, against some much bigger schools and long-established jazz programs. … It is exciting. It is exciting and it is significant.”
The 2012-13 Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet won based on a demo recording and the 2011-12 group won based on the “Origins” CD recorded and released in collaboration with music and entertainment management students and the student recording label, Pac Ave Records. Pac Ave was founded in 2012 by students from both the Music Conservatory and Eberhardt School of Business and continues to release music by Pacific students.
“The project was a great example of collaboration,” Keith Hatschek, Music Management program director, said of “Origins,” the first-ever Pac Ave Records project. “It provided an exceptional learning opportunity that went beyond what a student can learn in a classroom or by a writing a paper.”
“The results were sterling,” he said. Hatschek and Rowe also said the help of Nick Phillips ’87, a jazz record producer and vice president of catalog and jazz A&R at Concord Music Group, was vital to the process. Phillips taught the Pac Ave Record label class along with Hatschek in spring 2012 and mentored the student label’s founders.
Rowe, Brubeck Institute Associate Director Nick Fryer, and Joe Gilman, the fellowship program’s artist-in-residence, all helped guide the two Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintets.
The fellowship program provides a high level of instruction, an arduous performance schedule, and mentoring by such local and national jazz talents as Gilman, Fryer, and Patrick Langham, the Music Conservatory’s jazz studies program director. That significantly contributes to the success of the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet, said Rowe.
The Brubeck Institute will receive plaques for the honors and more – bragging rights.
“It really is the honor, and the fact that every single young, aspiring jazz musician is going to look in DownBeat magazine and say, ‘The Brubeck Institute won that again?!’ is something,” said Rowe.
The success of the program has far-reaching impact.
“It looms large in educators’ minds,” said Rowe. “It looms large in the community’s mind. You know, the world of education, per se, is a very competitive one, so to create these high-level opportunities for people I think brings kudos to the program, to the Music Conservatory, and to the University. It says we are consistently branding ourselves at the top of the food chain in arts education.”
And that success also cultivates copycat programs.
“Others are seeing this model and are wanting to come to the party,” said Rowe. “A lot of people sit up and take note when they see trends occurring, patterns occurring where the same group and students schooled in the same way are beginning to yield good, consistent high-level results.”
The high-intensity program also brings about changes in the individuals involved.
“What’s always fascinating for me to see is that, even though they are incredibly talented, they are somewhat of a motley crew when they arrive and they are a polished ensemble when they leave,” said Rowe. “The growth and transformation to me is always spectacular. … I expect great things from this graduating group.”
The 2011-2012 Brubeck Fellows
Tree Palmedo, trumpet, of Portland, Ore.; Rane Roatta, tenor sax, of Miami, Fla.; Alec Watson, pianist, of Geneva, Ill.; Bill Vonderhaar, bass, of Houston, Texas; and Malachi Whitson, drums, of Richmond.
The 2012-2013 Brubeck Fellows Rane Roatta, tenor sax, of Miami, Fla.; Thomas Kelley, alto sax, of Canton, Conn.; Paul Bloom, piano, of Needham, Mass.; Adam Goldman, bass, of Pacific Palisades; and Malachi Whitson, drums, of Richmond.
About the Brubeck Institute
The Brubeck Institute was established by the University of the Pacific in 2000 to honor its distinguished alumni, Dave and Iola Brubeck. The mission of the Institute is to build on Dave Brubeck's legacy and his lifelong dedication to music, creativity, education, and the advancement of important social issues including civil rights, environmental concerns, international relations, and social justice. The Fellowship Program is just one of the Brubeck Institute’s five core programs. Visit www.brubeckinstitute.org/ for more information on the Brubeck Institute and the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet.