KU Jazz Ensemble I Honored by DownBeat and Jazz at Lincoln Center

LAWRENCE, KS – KU Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Dan Gailey, was recognized with the Graduate College Outstanding Performance honor in the category of large jazz ensembles in the 45th Annual DownBeat Student Music Awards. 

DownBeat released the results of the awards today, May 5, and will publish them in its June issue. As one of the world’s leading jazz and contemporary music publications, DownBeat announces its Student Music Awards annually. Students and educators nominate themselves in an open call for recorded performances and applications, and winners are selected from more than 1,000 entries. 

Under Gailey’s leadership, the KU Jazz Studies Program has received 29 DownBeat Student Music Awards since 1992. 

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. 

“This is the third time in the past four years that Jazz Ensemble I has received a DownBeat Award,” Gailey said. “Combined with the honors they received at the Rudin Jazz Championship, this is a testament to the continued excellence in our program and the exceptional work that our studio faculty does with our students.” 

KU Jazz Ensemble I was one of 10 college big bands invited to participate in the 2022 Rudin Jazz Championship at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 19 and 20. The schools chosen for the event and invited by JALC Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis are among the most well-regarded jazz programs in the nation. 

Following their daytime performance in the competition, the band was chosen as one of five finalists to perform again that evening. At the end of the evening, Marsalis and the other four judges presented KU with the following awards: 

  • Earl Hines Outstanding Musician Award (presented to the most outstanding musician on any instrument at the championship): Keegan Kaiser, alto saxophone 

  • Outstanding Alto Saxophonist: Keegan Kaiser 

  • Outstanding Guitarist: John Fraka 

  • Honorable Mention—Outstanding Trombonist: Colin Wreath 

  • Outstanding Brass Section: University of Kansas 


Media Contact: 

Dan Gailey 

KU School of Music