by Kelly Rogge, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Music and Audio Engineering programs have been honored not once, not twice, but five times in DownBeat Magazine’s 42nd Annual Student Music Awards.
The Standard Vocal Jazz Ensemble received Community College Outstanding Performance awards in both the Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Blues-Pop-Rock Group categories and singer-guitarist Michael Schley was cited as a Community College Outstanding Soloist on The Standard’s recording of “Afro Blue.”
The RSS Trio, featuring drummer Antonio Reyes, organist Mark Slimm and Schley, received a Community College Outstanding Performance award for Small Jazz Combo.
Finally, sound engineer Brady Rose (a 2018 KCKCC graduate) received a Community College Outstanding Recording award for Engineered Studio Recording.
In 2018, no community college received more than two separate awards and in 2017, no community college received more than three.
“Our program is becoming nationally recognized for excellence in jazz and commercial music performance and audio engineering at the two-year collegiate level,” said John Stafford II, associate professor of music and director of The Standard. “We have a strong core of students from all backgrounds, and we have a well-established community within our department – a community where students support one another and want to help each other succeed. I am very proud of our students and department for receiving these honors from DownBeat Magazine. We feel very fortunate and honored to have this opportunity.”
KCKCC was also recognized by DownBeat in both 2017 and 2018. In 2017, The Standard received a Community College Outstanding Performance award for Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and audio engineer Jordan Lankhorst received a Community College Outstanding Recording award for Live Studio Recording. In 2018, audio engineer Brady Rose was named the Community College winner in the Engineered Studio Recording Category.
“This level of recognition is remarkable for any school, be it high school, community college or university,” said Dr. Justin Binek, assistant professor of music reflected. “The fact that DownBeat has recognized excellence across all aspects of our programs – vocal, instrumental, large ensemble, small ensemble, solo, audio engineering – is extremely rare, and it makes me so proud of what our students and faculty have been able to achieve.”
These five DownBeat awards represent the culmination of an academic year in which the KCKCC Music and Audio Engineering programs have repeatedly received national recognition. The Standard gave feature performances at the national conferences of both the Jazz Education Network and the National Association for Music Education, and professors Jim Mair (Instrumental Music Program Director), John Stafford II (Choral Music Program Director), Dr. Ian Corbett (Audio Engineering Program Director) and Dr. Justin Binek (Music Theory/Jazz Studies) have traveled extensively both nationally and internationally as performers, teachers, adjudicators and clinicians.
“We are in the midst of very exciting times at KCKCC,” Mair said. “The Choral, Instrumental and Audio programs are firing on all cylinders, and I think we’re just scratching the surface. The DownBeat awards can stay on your résumé for life, regardless of your career path.”
DownBeat Magazine has the widest circulation of any jazz magazine in the United States. Dedicated to “Jazz, Blues, and Beyond,” DownBeat was founded in 1934, and is best known for its album reviews, annual surveys of both readers and critics and its awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hall of Fame and the Album of the Year. The DownBeat Student Music Awards were established in 1978.
“I am very excited about the incredible work being done by our Music and Audio Engineering faculty and students,” Dr. Greg Mosier, KCKCC president, said. “For many years, these programs have produced work that has received national recognition and awards, but receiving five awards from DownBeat Magazine in all of these categories is extraordinary. My congratulations go out to all involved. You sound awesome.”