ROCHESTER, NY Down Beat, one of the country’s most respected jazz magazines, has selected pianist Harold Danko, chair of the Eastman School of Music’s Jazz and Contemporary Media department, as one of only three recipients of its 12th annual "Down Beat Achievement Awards for Jazz Education." The honor is announced in the June issue of the magazine, which features the 26th annual Student Music Award winners. It is on newsstands now.
Down Beat cites Danko, who has served on the Eastman faculty since 1998, for combining for more than 30 years "an innate love of teaching with extensive onstage experience performing with the bands of top-notch jazz artists" including Lee Konitz, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, and others. He is honored alongside other prominent jazz educators Justin DiCioccio, assistant dean of the Manhattan School of Music (and Eastman alumnus), and Davey Yarborough, director of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC.
"Harold has been recognized for his numerous contributions to jazz and for the high-caliber jazz students that Eastman produces year after year," said Tom Alexios, who coordinates special projects for Down Beat. In fact, the magazine honors several Eastman students this year as recipients of its annual student awards the most highly coveted in jazz education circles. Among them:
- Two student groups the Dave Guidice Quartet (Dave Guidice, piano and vocals; Josh Rutner, saxophone; Ike Sturm, bass; and Ted Poor, drums) and the Robert-Koenigsberg Sextet (Toby Robert-Koenigsberg, piano; Andre Canniere, trumpet; James Hirschfeld, trombone; Josh Rutner, saxophone; Ike Sturm, bass; Ted Poor, drums) were cited for college outstanding performance in the jazz group category.
- In the blues/pop/rock group category, the Eastman student group Groove Brewery (Jared Schonig, drums; Dan Wright, trumpet; Ryan Perez-Daple, saxophone; Dave Veslocki, guitar; and Tristan Eggener, bass) also was cited for its college outstanding performance.
- Toby Robert-Koenigsberg was the college co-winner in the original composition-best song category (for a song titled "Song for Aki"), while graduate student Brian VanArsdale was recognized for outstanding performance of his song "So Far" (written while an undergraduate student at University of North Florida).
- Likewise, two Eastman students have been recognized as college co-winners in the jazz arrangement category: Eric Schmitz for an arrangement of Harold Danko’s work called "For Bud" and Clarence Hines, a current graduate student who arranged a work titled "Beyond All Limits" while a student at the University of North Florida.
- In addition, bassist Greg Chudzik, who just completed his freshman year at Eastman, was cited for an outstanding performance from his performing arts high school in the jazz instrumental soloist category.
Rochester audiences will get to hear Danko and many of these award-winning students along with their Eastman counterparts perform in two concerts as part of the upcoming Rochester International Jazz Festival. At 8 p.m., Sunday, June 8, in Eastman Theatre, the Dave Guidice Quartet and the Toby Robert-Koenigsberg Sextet will perform in the first half of a concert headlined by saxophonist Rich Perry and the Eastman Jazz Quartet (featuring Danko, piano; Jeff Campbell, bass; Rich Thompson, drums; and Clay Jenkins, trumpet). Then, at 8 p.m., Monday, June 9, in Eastman Theatre, the Eastman Jazz Ensemble, guest directed by Dave Rivello and Eastman student Brian Shaw, will open a concert with the works of the four Down Beat-winning Eastman student writers. The second half of this program features renowned Grammy-nominated composer/arranger and Eastman alumna Maria Schneider directing the Eastman Jazz Ensemble in a program of her own compositions, with Rich Perry as a special guest soloist. Both concerts and free and open to the public.
Note to editors: Harold Danko is available for interviews.