• Home
  • KU Jazz Ensemble I earns top DownBeat Student Music Award

KU Jazz Ensemble I earns top DownBeat Student Music Award

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

LAWRENCE, KS – KU Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Dan Gailey, was named the best graduate college large jazz ensemble in the country in the 42 Annual Downbeat Student Music Awards.

DownBeat, also recognized Alex Annan, a master’s student in jazz composition from Omaha, Nebraska. Annan’s big band jazz arrangement “Ima” was awarded DownBeat’s Graduate College Outstanding Arrangement.

DownBeat released results of the Student Music Awards today and will publish them in its June issue. One of the world’s leading jazz and contemporary music publications, DownBeat presents its Student Music Awards annually. Students and educators nominate themselves in an open call for recorded performances and applications. Winners are selected from more than 1,000 entries.

The DownBeat Student Music Awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education. Since its founding in 1976, hundreds of musicians, music educators and music industry professionals received their first international recognition as DownBeat Student Music Award winners.

Under Gailey’s leadership, the KU Jazz Studies Program has received 27 DownBeat Student Music Awards since 1992.

“We are thrilled to once again receive this recognition as one of the nation’s top college jazz ensembles. The DownBeat Award is a testament to the exceptional teaching of our jazz and studio faculty, and the efforts of our talented students,” Gailey said.

This has been an award-winning month for the KU Jazz Ensemble I. Earlier this month, the group was selected as one of six big band jazz ensembles to perform at the Annual Next Generation Festival, which draws the top student musicians from across the country. The festival is presented by the Monterey Jazz Festival. At the festival, Vaughn Craddock, a junior from Wichita majoring in biochemistry, was named one of five outstanding soloists in the College Big Band Division.

The KU Jazz Ensemble I will give its final performance of the year on May 3 in a concert featuring pianist Nick Weiser, a School of Music alumnus and director of jazz studies at SUNY Fredonia. The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Students in the DownBeat award-winning Jazz Ensemble I include:


Michael Svoren, Overland Park, Kansas

Luis Matos, Kansas City, Kansas

Misha Olarrea, Tucson, Arizona

Sam Boyd, Leawood, Kansas

Zachary Dixon, Lawrence, Kansas


Robert Vandivier, Orlando, Florida

Bennett Lawrence, Leawood, Kansas

Nathan Hasterlik, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Alexander Davis, Marietta, Georgia

Edward Lee, Imperial, Missouri


Colin Wreath, Andover, Kansas

Joseph Hartung, St. Louis, Missouri

Ian Warshaw, Overland Park, Kansas

PJ Kelley, Olympia, Washington

Rhythm Section:

Alex Frank, guitar, Topeka, Kansas

Donovan Miller, piano, Woodbury, Minnesota

Matt MacKay, bass, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Alex Annan, bass, Omaha, Nebraska

Vaughn Craddock, drums, Wichita, Kansas


School of Music Calendar
Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.