St. Olaf jazz band recognized by Downbeat magazineby Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Downbeat magazine is honoring a jazz band from St. Olaf College in Northfield as the nation's top undergraduate large ensemble. "Jazz One" is the only Minnesota band to make this year's Downbeat honors.
Jazz band director and artist in residence Dave Hagedorn says he didn't tell his musicians he was submitting an entry, and now that the news is out, everyone on campus is buzzing.
"It's kind of like going to the Final Four and coming out on top," he said. "It's a pretty big competition. It's a way to see how you stack up against groups that are comperable."
Hagedorn says he learned about the award two months ago, but was sworn to secrecy.
"I really haven't slept very well for a couple of months since I have known," he said. "This is something I'd hoped maybe someday we'd get mentioned, and to get this award is unbelievable."
Hagedorn submitted three pieces recorded at the band's fall concert. The judges selected the winner in a blind audition, where the ensembles weren't identified.
St. Olaf is not recognized as a jazz powerhouse, so the June issue of Downbeat will include a feature on "Jazz One."
Hagedorn says rehearsals for next weekend's final concert of the season have become more intense, as band members know they now have to live up to the award.