Local jazz ensemble wins top honors

LONG BEACH - The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) continued to demonstrate its strength and depth in the field of vocal jazz as its students and premiere jazz ensemble Pacific Standard Time recently earned an unprecedented five honors in the 33rd annual DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards.Pacific Standard Time was recognized for Outstanding Performance by a Vocal Jazz Group at the graduate college level. The group is directed by Christine Guter. Four CSULB students were also declared the winners in their categories. Ann Pedersen was named graduate college winner in Vocal Jazz Soloist. Alex Stephens won in the undergraduate college Jazz Arrangement category for "In the Glow of the Moon," and Andrea Calderwood won in the graduate college level in Jazz Arrangement for her rendition of "Last Call." Katheren Geisick, a recent graduate who majored in jazz vocal performance at CSULB, was also singled out for her Outstanding Performance as a Vocal Jazz Soloist at the Undergraduate College Level. "I was completely shocked when I was recognized by DownBeat. I sent recordings that were made when I was a junior and was told not to expect too much since they were live recordings. So receiving the award was a surprise," said Geisick, a San Jose native. "There were struggles beforehand and we all really worked hard. So I am so happy the entire department got recognized. I understand this was the most awards any college has won in a single year. That's great for all of us. This is a well-known award in jazz, so it's definitely something great to put on our resumes." Pacific Standard Time, part of CSULB's world-renowned College of the Arts, is a highly select eight- to 12-member ensemble that requires students to have refined musicianship and improvisation skills. The group performs a wide variety of vocal music in the jazz genre. Last year, CSULB vocal jazz students and Pacific Standard Time were honored for excellence by the Monterey Jazz Festival with the ensemble earning a performance spot at the festival by placing first in the national college and university competition. The ensemble, which tours and records yearly, has also appeared at both the American Choral Director's Western Division Convention and the California Music Educators Association Convention. The DownBeat Student Music Awards is a nationally-recognized, highly competitive avenue for middle school, high school and college students to showcase their talent and be recognized for their musical skills. Awards are given in 15 categories in five different divisions. Students and ensembles record their music on a CD and submit it for judging by professional musicians and educators from across the country. Judging criteria is based on musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement and authority. All the national winners were announced in the June issue of DownBeat, which is currently on newsstands.

********** Published: July 1, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 11

FeaturesEric Pierce