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College of Arts and Humanities

Jazz Ensembles

Jazz Home | Chris Bruya | Vijay Singh | John Harbaugh | Auditions | Festival 
Band I | Band II | Band ||| | Vocal Jazz I Vocal Jazz II | Vocal Jazz III

Jazz Band I

The premiere jazz band at CWU, this group focuses on performance of literature written for the big band from the 1940's to the present, with emphasis on the great arrangers and writers such as Bill Holman, Frank Foster, John Clayton, Thad Jones, Darcy James Argue, Don Sebesky, Bob Florence, Oliver Nelson, Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Bob Mintzer, Sammy Nestico, and many others. Performance standards are high, and as a consequence, entrance to the band is very competitive. There are frequently a few graduate students and many upper classpersons throughout the group. This group performs often off-campus throughout the year which includes professional venues, jazz festivals and tours. This band won the 2015 Next Generation Festival, which led to a performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Creativity, interpretation and intense musical experience are the hallmarks of this fine ensemble.

Jazz Band II

This jazz band features the study of available published literature for big bands, with an emphasis on learning the various styles present in the genre. Music performed by Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Bill Holman, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Bob Mintzer, John Fedchok, and other bands, is explored, as well as the many fine charts intended for the educational market. Many opportunities for improvisation are given, with programming based upon individual group makeup. For students that are music education majors, this is a perfect ensemble to learn rehearsal craft, literature and programming.

Jazz Band III

This band offers an environment for students less experienced with jazz styles and improvisation a chance to explore. Often students are working on their doubles, sight reading and knowledge of jazz band literature. Many students are music education majors looking ahead to student teaching, and they often are given a chance to direct and coach the ensemble. Chart selection is focused on professional, college and high school level material performable by less experienced players, with emphasis on quality arrangers and writers. Student-written material is welcomed. As with the other ensembles, quality performance standards are the norm.

Jazz Combos

Combos are auditioned each quarter and are usually quintets or sextets of typical instrumentation. The combos meet together once per week in a masterclass/forum format for critique and feedback from coaches and peers, with two rehearsals per week, one with a CWU combo coach. Fundamentals are stressed as well as creativity, arranging, transcription, and improvisation. Combo concerts are featured each quarter, sometimes with guest artists, as well as clinics and guest concerts throughout the year. Occasional performances off-campus are arranged for the top combos, which in the recent past have included the 2013 JEN Conference in Atlanta, KNKX live-on-air performance, and Boxley’s in North Bend.

Vocal Jazz I

Vocal Jazz 1 is the premiere vocal jazz ensemble at CWU and has been acknowledged as one of the finest collegiate jazz vocal ensembles in the country with invitations to perform at IAJE, ACDA, and MENC national conventions. Vocal Jazz 1 consists of upper level students selected for their technical skills, musicality, stylistic diversity, jazz sophistication, and performance abilities. Repertoire is often composed/arranged specifically for this group and they have premiered numerous works which have become part of the standard repertoire for vocal jazz ensembles nationwide. Special emphasis is placed on solos, improvisation, instrumental concepts, arranging, and ensemble precision. Vocal Jazz 1 has recently been selected performed at the 2013 JEN Conference in Atlanta and will appear at the 2017 ACDA Regional Conference in Portland, OR.

Vocal Jazz II

Vocal Jazz 2 is focuses on building musicianship and repertoire through improvisation, ensemble skills, stylistically authentic performance practices, and jazz concepts. Repertoire focuses on custom arrangements by students, alumni, and other Northwest jazz luminaries. Students often gain experience and skills in Vocal Jazz 2 necessary to compete for spots in Vocal Jazz 1, creating a "feeder program" for the premiere ensemble.

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