UH music student
named to elite list
of jazz soloists

A University of Hawaii student has been named one of the best college jazz soloists in the country by DownBeat magazine, which has chronicled the history of jazz and blues since 1934.

Roland Davis, who will graduate this summer with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and composition, was one of four to receive the award.

"It is literally the highest award in jazz in the nation and I decided to just go for it," Davis said.

Selection is based on a 10-minute recording. Davis submitted a guitar piece for his winning entry.

Davis said he tried to cover the history of jazz in his entry by playing swing, bebop and contemporary solos followed by an unaccompanied guitar original arrangement and an original transcription of Keith Jarrett, a famous jazz artist.

The judges of the contest do not know the name or location of the artist when reviewing the entries to ensure a fair critique.

Davis was awarded a full scholarship to attend graduate school at the New England Conservatory this fall.

He is one of two jazz composers accepted annually into the prestigious music school. Davis said he will get his doctorate in jazz composition, but hopes to double-major later with classical composition, too.

"I'm feeling all the human emotions possible," Davis said last week about leaving Hawaii. "I'm scared, happy, sad and excited."

Davis said he was offered spots in other music schools across the country, but chose New England because of the opportunity to work with jazz composer Bob Brookmeyer.

"I'm freaking out and I'm scared to death," he said. "Brookmeyer is one of the few people that turned jazz composition into the art form that it is today. He's the man."

Davis said he performed in more than 2,000 shows in 12 countries the past 10 years. He worked with local entertainers like Glenn Medeiros and big-time stars like LeAnn Rimes.


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