Western’s jazz program receives praise from international publication | UGM News

Contact: Deanne Puca

The WMU Advanced Jazz Ensemble received one of three awards given to Western’s Jazz Studies program at DownBeat magazine’s 45th Annual Student Music Awards.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University’s Jazz Studies program has multiple international magazine awards low beatincluding being named in his 45th Annual Student Music Awards as well as recognition of the work of two faculty members.

Graduate and undergraduate students won three prizes in what is considered the most prestigious competition in jazz education.

Western winners include:

  • Gabe BertoliniTenor Saxophone, Graduate College Outstanding Performance (Dr. Andrew Rathbun)

  • Faith QuashieVocal Jazz Soloist, Outstanding Undergraduate Performances (Gregory Jasperse)

  • WMU Advanced Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, Graduate College Winner (Dr. Andrew Rathbun, Director)

Hundreds of musicians, educators and industry professionals have received their first international recognition as DownBeat Award winners. Western’s Jazz Studies program now holds nearly 200 historic wins in virtually every category, making it one of the best college jazz programs in the world.

June DownBeat magazine cover

“Western Michigan University’s Jazz Program continues to gain recognition for the exceptional artistry of its students and faculty. With a newly redesigned degree that incorporates more technology, new partnerships and new faculty, Western’s jazz program is poised to foster the next generation of important new voices and continue its tradition of excellence,” said Rathbun, chair of the jazz department and associate professor of saxophone and jazz.

Honored Faculty

Western instructors have also established themselves on the international scene.

Keith Room, assistant professor of jazz drums and jazz studies, received 4.5 stars from critics for his new CD “Made In Kalamazoo” in the magazine’s August issue. Hall has been featured in many works, but this is his debut as the lead on an album.

“As a former WMU student and longtime instructor, Keith has played an important role in the University,” says Rathbun. “‘Made in Kalamazoo’ is an eye-opener on the breadth of his imagination and experience behind the drums and provides him with a long-awaited opportunity to show off his percussive prowess front and center.”

Rathbun himself was also recognized in the August issue and included in DownBeat’s 70th Annual International Critics’ Poll. The editorial team around the world selects musicians for established talents and rising stars. He was again recognized as a rising star in the tenor saxophone category, marking Rathbun’s second appearance on the list.

Check out DownBeat’s 45th Annual Student Music Awards in its June issue, and check out the 70th Annual Critics’ Poll and Hall’s Review in the August issue.

Learn more about Western’s Jazz Studies program.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.

Jacob L. Thornton