Jazz Ensembles

Introduction

Jazz at Western Washington University is performance focused, with opportunities to participate in large ensembles (Jazz Orchestra & Big Band & Vocal Jazz), chamber-sized ensembles (Combos), and classes in jazz improvisation (Jazz Theory and Improv I, II and III). 

The Jazz Studies program offers both large and small instrumental and vocal ensemble performing opportunities as well as curriculum in improvisation and arranging for instrumental and vocal majors. Two traditional big bands perform quarterly, with literature drawn from the standard repertoire as well as student arrangements and compositions. In addition, a chamber jazz ensemble comprised of rhythm section and solo winds and brass affords students the framework for extended improvisation and the exploration of intimate musical structures and relationships. The opportunity to hear and perform with regionally and internationally known guest artists rounds out Western's offerings for students interested in Jazz study.

Jazz Orchestra "WJO" and Big Band "WBB"

Brass · Winds · Rhythm · Voice

  • Rehearsals and sectionals under the guidance of the instructor and student section leaders.
  • Quarterly concert performances in the Performing Arts Center at Western Washington University.
  • Works drawn from the standard repertoire as well as student and faculty arrangements and compositions.

Vocal Jazz "WVJ"

Voice · Piano · Rhythm

  • Rehearsals and sectionals under the guidance of the instructor.
  • Quarterly seminars and concert performances in the Performing Arts Center at Western Washington University.
  • Works drawn from the standard repertoire as well as student and faculty arrangements and compositions.

Combos "WJC"

Brass · Winds · Rhythm · Voice

  • Rehearsals and sectionals under the guidance of the instructor.
  • Quarterly seminars and concert performances in the Performing Arts Center at Western Washington University.
  • Works drawn from the standard repertoire as well as student and faculty arrangements and compositions.

Jazz Improvisation I & II

  • Instruction in a wide array of topics related to improving jazz improvisation: listening, aural transcription, theory, history, composition, and sight-singing.
  • Focus on improved understanding of harmony and form as related to a set of iconic jazz standards.
  • Instrumental abilities enhanced through specialized practice strategies.

Guest Masterclasses and Performances

Once per quarter students are provided the opportunity to attend free masterclasses/performances by touring professional jazz groups and visiting guest artists. Recent performances include Seattle's Human Spirit (Matt Jorgenson-drums, Thomas Marriott-trumpet, Mark Taylor-sax, Orrin Evans-piano and Essiet Essiet-bass) and Vancouver BC's Cory Weeds Quintet (featuring Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers trombonist-Steve Davis).

Guest Artists/Master Classes:

  • Terry Trotter (pianist with Natalie Cole)
  • Miles Black (piano)
  • Dan Faehnle (guitar with Diana Krall)
  • Donald Bailey (drums with Jimmy Smith)
  • Bill Goodwin (drums)
  • Ali Jackson (drums)
  • Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
  • Wayne Goodman (trombone w/ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra)
  • Jay Thomas, Ernie Krivda, Mike Allen (sax)
  • Claudio Roditi (trumpet with Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D'Rivera)

Looking for more information?

If you have any questions, we're happy to find you an answer. Call the Music Department Office 360-650-3130, or view the directory of faculty and staff.