The Eastman New Jazz Ensemble and Jeremy Siskind have each been named in the latest DownBeat Student Music Awards.
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DownBeat, often described as “the bible of jazz,” has named the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble as the best college big band in the magazine’s 32nd annual music awards issue. The publication also chose a composition by Eastman musician Jeremy Siskind as one of the best original songs. The awards were announced in DownBeat’s June issue.
Directed by Dave Rivello, the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble is open to Eastman students by audition only. Showcasing the finest contemporary big band jazz from around the world, the ensemble plays music not often heard or yet recorded, and frequently premieres new works.
“This year’s New Jazz Ensemble has had a great year, performing some very challenging music,” said Rivello. “I’m really happy that the ensemble has been recognized by DownBeat for their hard work. I am honored to be part of the great jazz faculty here at Eastman.”
Said Harold Danko, chair of the Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media Department, “Speaking for myself and all of the faculty and students in the jazz studies program, I am very proud of what Dave Rivello and the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble accomplished in winning this year’s DownBeat big band award. Dave’s musical life revolves around making modern music for large ensembles an important and integral part of the experience of students and audiences alike. Eastman is very fortunate to have him on our team, and the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival will present him again this summer in celebration of his new CD, Facing the Mirror.”
Siskind received his Bachelor of Music degree in 2008 in jazz studies and music theory, graduating with High Distinction. His winning work for solo piano, titled “Little Love Song,” recorded in Kilbourn Hall shortly before his graduation, was one of two honorees in the college outstanding performance category for best original song. Siskind currently lives in Manhattan where he’s working toward a master’s degree in English and comparative literature at Columbia University, studying piano with Sophia Rosoff and Fred Hersch, and teaching piano and composition for the Yamaha Music Education System.
“Jeremy is a gifted young jazz pianist and composer who has distinguished himself once again with his new honor from DownBeat,” said Danko. “His pianism and musicality are strongly in evidence on his award-winning composition. His future looks brighter than ever and I am very proud to have been involved in his formative years at Eastman.”
DownBeat is one of the country’s most respected jazz magazines. The 32nd annual Student Music Awards were open to student recordings made between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 15. 2008. Entries were judged on musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement, authority, and other criteria. The panel of judges included the editors of DownBeat, professional musicians, and educators.
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