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UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I
Receives National Recognition
MAILED: April 22, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — For the fourth time in six years, a national magazine has named University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I one of the best collegiate jazz ensembles in the country.
Down Beat magazine - considered the premiere jazz publication in the United States - again gave one of its "Best College Big Band" awards to UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I, recognizing its latest CD release titled "Jazz In Clear Water-Vernal Fields." The CD received special recognition for the sub-category of "outstanding performance."
"I am absolutely beside myself in the pride I have for our students in the jazz studies area and music department," said Robert Baca, director of jazz studies at UW-Eau Claire. "Only because of the kind of students that exist at UW-Eau Claire is this 'magic' possible."
Baca said he doesn't know of another group that has received the magazine's top award as many times as UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I. And other colleges and universities winning the award in past years have been significantly larger institutions, with many of them having full-time jazz faculty members, graduate programs in jazz and/or undergraduate degrees in jazz studies, he said.
Down Beat magazine is a national publication for student, amateur, and professional musicians and educators seriously involved in various types of contemporary music, including jazz, rock, blues and electronics. Baca describes the magazine's annual awards as the "educational Grammys" because they are so prestigious.
Baca said when he arrived at UW-Eau Claire 16 years ago, he "never realized the unbelievable potential of these upper Midwest kids."
"After teaching here for one year, I had a saying outside my door that stated, 'The reality of dreams comes from naïve idealism.' To this day, I think this saying describes our students," Baca said.
UW-Eau Claire's music faculty and UW-Eau Claire administrators also deserve credit for their part in the ensemble's success, Baca said, noting that students need to feel that their efforts are supported to achieve success at this level.
The ensemble's last CD, "Jazz in Clear Water-Things to Come," was nominated for a Grammy.
Jazz Ensemble I has toured throughout the world, with Europe, England and China being among its performance destinations.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 22, 2002