Jazz

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 Ensemble Auditions

To join a jazz ensemble all students must audition during our main ensemble audition dates in September of each year.  Please visit our ensemble audition page for more information regarding dates and requirements. Students unable to audition during September may email the jazz area coordinator, Kevin Woods to possibly arrange an audition at another time.  

Registration

All students must register for an ensemble through Web4U to participate. Each ensemble can be added after audition results have been posted with an override from either Kevin Woods or Lee Anne Frahn. Each ensemble is repeatable for credit and may be used towards elective, graduation requirements, as well as and upper division requirements at the 400 level only. 

Ensembles 

Jazz Orchestra "WJO" and Big Band "WBB"

  • 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.

Combos "WJC"

  • 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.

Vocal Jazz "WVJ"

  • 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)

Questions

For questions regarding auditions, classes and rehearsals please reach out to our Jazz area coordinator, Kevin Woods

Faculty

Jazz

Name Title Phone E-Mail Location
Greg
Feingold

Instructor, Jazz Bass

(708) 707-8322

Gregory.Overhultz-Feingold@wwu.edu

PA 273
Thomas
Harris

Instructor, Vocal Jazz

(360) 650-3130

Thomas.Harris@wwu.edu

Kevin
Woods

Assistant Professor of Music-Director or Jazz Studies

(360) 650-2689

Kevin.Woods@wwu.edu

PA 031