Downbeat MagazineA music publication covering jazz and blues, named the University of Texas at Arlington Latin Combo as the nation’s top undergraduate Latin group at 45 years old.m Annual Student Music Awards.
“The UTA Latin Combo really did an outstanding job of working on the music and preparing for their performance,” said Christian Valdes, assistant professor of music at UTA and the group’s mentor. “Learning Latin American jazz and music is not an easy challenge, but they really put their hearts into it and their efforts are reflected with this award.”
Drummer Jacob Farr said that when the group found out they had won, he felt “excited, proud and a bit shocked”.
“We all tried our best and heard that our hard work paid off,” Farr said.
The Jazz Studies program has several jazz combos; Membership is open to all current UT Arlington students regardless of major.
“It honors not only them, but all of us in the music program and at UTA in general,” Valdes said. “I am very proud of them and look forward to more awards.”
In addition to Farr, members of the UTA Latin Combo are Yu Liu and Dylan Brown on saxophones, Rafael Escalera on piano, and David Spates Conley on bass.
The Downbeat The Student Music Award is considered the most prestigious award in jazz education. Students were blindly judged by professional musicians and educators solely on their demonstrated skills from their submitted recordings.
Prior to studying at UTA, Farr attended a summer jazz camp hosted by the UT Arlington Music Department.
“Seeing the incredible staff working with students and loving what they do is what led me to study at UTA,” Farr said. “Jazz in particular is influential because it gives me a medium of expression not available in other restricted styles of music.”