Community High Jazz wins awards in prestigious Downbeat magazine music competition

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

The Community High School jazz combo “Bad Dudes” came in second place in its category in the 43rd International Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards contest—the world’s largest competition for high school jazz combos.

This is the fifth consecutive year a CHS jazz combo has received Downbeat’s student music award in the high school combo division. 

Photos by Myra Klarman

CHS’s Jazz Program Director Jack Wagner said he couldn’t be more proud of the students.

“I am so proud of the kids and happy for them, their families, their private teachers, their other, and past music teachers, too,” he said. “They do all of this hard work for our class and the group, and then go above and beyond because they’re so motivated. They love this music, and it shows. They deserve it. They are a special bunch.”

Bad Dude 2019-2020 members include Noah Hogan, guitar, 12th grade; Daniel Bennett, piano, 12th grade; Matthew Dobbins, drums, 10th grade; Tim Kohn, saxophones, 12th grade; Austin Aldrich, bass, 12th grade; Jake Lee, trumpet, 12th grade.

For bassist Austin Aldrich, sharing the award with good friends makes it even better.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized for such a prestigious award and it’s especially meaningful since it’s with a group of incredibly talented friends,” said Austin, who is headed to Northwestern University in the fall to study jazz bass performance and neuroscience studies. “Jake, Tim, and I have been playing together since seventh grade at Clague. Noah and I met playing in an Ann Arbor-Saline Music Center band when we were eight years old.” 

In addition, 2019 Community High grad Oliver Mayman won an Outstanding Soloist Award for his fantastic vibraphone improvising. He is now a jazz vibraphone performance major at Temple University in Philadelphia.

First published in 1934, “Downbeat” has a global readership. It features articles on performers, reviews of albums, annual critics’ and readers’ polls, and listings of international jazz festivals and camps. 

The listing of the winners is in the just-released June, 2020 issue of the magazine with Norah Jones on the cover.

Other “Downbeat” winners from the combo division and the collegiate levels are from California, Texas, The Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and the Manhattan School of Music.

Last year, the Community High jazz combo “Unified Field Theory” was honored by the magazine.

For more about the Community High Jazz, check out its new Facebook page. 

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