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U. of I. Concert Jazz Band named top big band at Texas Jazz Festival

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois Concert Jazz Band won top honors and the prestigious Gene Hall Award for best big band at this year’s University of North Texas Jazz Festival last weekend in Addison, Texas.

Participation in the festival, which took place April 1-3, is by invitation only.

“The festival is very prestigious,” said Chip McNeill, the director of the jazz studies program in the U. of I. School of Music. “Only about 10 groups in the categories of big band, combo and jazz vocal group are selected from the United States each year to attend and perform at the festival.”

Two ensembles from the U. of I. competed this year: the Concert Jazz Band, under McNeill’s direction, and the U. of I. Combo I, under the direction of jazz studies professor John “Chip” Stephens.

As the top university big band, the Concert Jazz Band was selected to perform on the evening concert program on April 1.

Several people from both groups also received soloist awards for their performances.