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DownBeat Magazine Honors Vocal, Concert Jazz Groups in CSULB’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music

Published: June 2, 2014

DownBeat magazine recently honored student performers in the Concert Jazz Orchestra (CJO) and vocal jazz group Pacific Standard Time (PST) led by two CSULB Cole Conservatory of Music faculty members as well as music majors.

“Winning both instrumental and vocal in the Graduate College awards tells you about the depth of our amazing jazz program,” said Cole Conservatory Director Carolyn Bremer. “We attract some of the finest young jazz musicians in the country to the Cole Conservatory where they receive training from some of the best faculty. This is an elite program. Marcus Carline is a double major in vocal jazz and composition. I am thrilled for him. He has mad skills in both areas and he’s fusing them together to find his own voice as a composer.”

The Concert Jazz Orchestra (CJO) is led by Director of Jazz Studies Jeff Jarvis while lecturer Christine Guter leads Pacific Standard Time (PST). Carline was honored for his composition.

“We are so pleased to have won the Graduate College Big Band division of the Student Music Awards,” said Jarvis, a member of the university since 2005. “As a director, this award further establishes CSULB as a destination for serious jazz students seeking a real world experience as they prepare for careers in the music industry.”

The 17-piece big band includes five graduate students who occupy key positions and serve as mentors and role models for the undergraduate band members.

Jarvis believes one reason for CJO’s recognition was the group’s focus on diverse and interesting programming as well as its selection of music that demonstrates the members’ musicianship, technique, creativity and unique point of view about every work they perform.

“We strive for the power and excitement associated with big band jazz, but we also want listeners to be as moved by how softly we can play,” he said.

The CJO has been among the top three bands at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, including two first-place awards. They also were invited to perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

The CJO is a relatively young band yet has distinguished itself when competing with well-established collegiate jazz ensembles with doctoral students, Jarvis pointed out.

“This speaks highly of the quality of our full-time and applied faculty at CSULB,” he said. “A coveted award like the DownBeat Student Award recognizes a high level of proficiency but we realize that we’re only as good as our next concert.”

Upcoming dates include the Westlake Jazz Festival in Thousand Oaks on Saturday, May 10, and another at the Los Angles Jazz Institute on Sunday, May 25.

Jarvis believes the recognition will serve as a powerful recruiting tool for the Cole Conservatory, especially for attracting talented high school students.

“Those accepted into the program quickly learn that while festival and contest wins are a huge honor, our band’s value is determined in many other ways,” he said.

Carline was pleased by his distinction.

“Winning a DownBeat for my arrangement feels sort of surreal,” he said. “I submitted for jazz vocalist, composition and arrangement on the impetus of a small glimmer of hope and then quickly banished it from my mind. There was no way I was going to win. So when I heard, I didn’t really believe it.”

Carline was named for his arrangement of “Car 24” composed by Yoko Kanno for the anime “Cowboy Bebop.”

“It was one of those songs that in listening I knew exactly how I would arrange it for voices and that I enjoyed the tune was all the reason I needed,” he recalled.

Carline is earning a bachelor of music degree with a double emphasis in jazz studies (voice and music composition) with hopes of graduating in spring 2015. The Long Beach resident and son of Gayle and Dale Carline grew up in Placentia, Calif.

“I’m pretty sure I chose this school specifically for the vocal jazz program that Christine Guter has built up,” he said. His professional goals range from starting his own group to include to writing music for video games and TV.

“The most truthful answer I can give is that I’ve been trying to gather a variety of skills so I’d have options coming out of school, and I’m only now starting to think about what I actually want to do with the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s kind of terrifying, but exciting.”

Guter directs PST and performs on such film soundtracks as the hit animated feature “The Lorax” and “Men in Black III.” She has a bachelor of arts in choral music education from Western Michigan University and a master’s in studio music and jazz from the University of Miami in Florida. The Long Beach resident joined the university in 2002.

“The students work incredibly hard and are completely dedicated to making the highest quality of music,” said Guter.

–Richard Manly