We offer positions in four small group jazz ensembles each semester. These combos provide a systematic, practical approach to the art of jazz improvisation or spontaneous composition.
All students, regardless of major, are eligible to audition. Most often, jazz studies and music media majors use these groups to fulfill their ensemble requirements. Each group performs several times each semester in a variety of venues. All performers receive a scholarship of various amounts (depending on the group) at the end of each semester.
The Guitar Ensemble is directed by Brian Gaudino, Adjunct Guitar Faculty. It consists of three to five guitars and rhythm section. The group performs a variety of arrangements that focus on reading and improvising over easy to medium difficult chord changes.
Combo III, directed by Chris Munson (Music Media Coordinator), is the entry-level jazz combo. No prior jazz experience is necessary. Students play a variety of jazz standards that explore some of the more basic and common changes/forms in the Bebop idiom. The combo focuses on feel, time, communication, texture, and basic improvisation skills. New tunes are added to the combo's repertoire on a weekly basis along with audio/video clips to aid in better understanding the jazz vocabulary.
Combo II is lead by Professor of Guitar Studies, Dr. Jeffrey George. This combo is for students who have significant experience improvising. This ensemble works toward attaining a higher level of interaction and communication between the participants. Students continue with chart reading, but work on their memory of tunes to expand their knowledge of standards. The musicians work on increasingly complex compositions while transcribing the improvisations of great artists.
Combo I, directed by Dr. Paul Morton (Professor of Trumpet and Coordinator of Jazz Studies), is the most advanced group in which basic skills such as jazz theory, reading chord changes and knowledge of standards tunes is assumed. The group focuses on advanced repertoire, student composition, transcriptions, etc. Rehearsals include reading, soloing over chord changes, and working on progressive improvisation concepts. Combo I is often booked for off campus events, concerts, and secondary school demonstrations.