Accolade: Blair Big Band ‘biblical’ honor

The Blair Big Band
The Blair Big Band, Photo by Susan Urmy

The Blair Big Band is the undergraduate collegiate winner in the category Large Jazz Ensemble in DownBeat magazine’s 42nd annual Student Music Awards, announced April 23.

This is the Blair School of Music’s first award from DownBeat, which is widely considered the “bible” of the jazz world. The recordings Blair submitted to the competition were selections from the Blair Big Band’s second studio album, Songbook, which is available on digital platforms. The album is a reimagination of pop and rock standards including music from Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, Nirvana, Radiohead, Paul Simon and others.

“The DownBeat award for best undergraduate jazz ensemble is hugely prestigious, a fitting recognition of the great progress Vanderbilt’s jazz program has made under the direction of Ryan Middagh,” says Mark Wait, the Martha Rivers Ingram Dean of the Blair School. “It is also a significant milestone in the evolution of the Blair School, with its amazing progress, great potential and wonderful future.”