May 17, 2000

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Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

ROCHESTER, NY – For the third time in five years, the Eastman Jazz Ensemble – the premier jazz band of the Eastman School of Music – has been selected as one of the top large jazz ensembles in the country by Down Beat magazine, one of the country’s most respected jazz publications.

In the June issue of Down Beat, which hits newsstands today and includes the 23rd annual student music award winners, the Eastman Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Fred Sturm, is one of three co-winners named in the college-level "jazz big band" category. It shares that honor with the Lawrence University (WI) Jazz Ensemble and the Youngstown (OH) State University Jazz Ensemble. (Coincidentally, Sturm is a graduate of and former faculty member at Lawrence; his Eastman colleague, jazz pianist Harold Danko, is a graduate of Youngstown State.)

In jazz education circles, the Down Beat awards are the most highly coveted of all. "I’m very proud of the fact that we submitted live concert recordings – no studio productions with multiple takes – for consideration," said Sturm, who is completing his term as chair of Eastman’s jazz and contemporary media department and who also is quoted extensively in an accompanying article in the issue about nurturing student big bands. "It’s real testimony to the performing skills of our students."

In fact, one of the Down Beat judges, Bunky Green, who directs the jazz department at the University of North Florida, is quoted in the issue as saying, "Some of the kids in college sounded just as good as the pros. They have unbelievable maturity."


Note to editors: Recent photos of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble are available.