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Jazz Ensemble

The Jazz Ensemble and Combos at the University of Portland are active music groups with high performing standards. Students of all years are accepted, freshmen through graduate students. Jazz Ensemble members are not required to be music majors, and are not required to be members of other performing groups or be taking private lessons at the University. Admission to the ensemble is through audition with the director, although every effort is made to include all students with the desire to play. Auditions for the combos occur in conjunction with jazz ensemble auditions. Additionally, The jazz combo performs on all of the concerts with the large jazz ensemble. 

Instrumentation is standard of jazz band groups: 5 saxes, 4 trombones, 5 trumpets, bass, piano, drums, and guitar. This ensemble performs a variety of musical styles including, but not limited to, Jazz Standards, Latin, Blues, Ballads, and Funk.  Students are also taught jazz improvisation and stylistic techniques for playing jazz in ensembles that vary in size. The jazz combo is a select group of 4 – 8 musicians. This group works to improve understanding of small group jazz as well as a focus towards constant development as an improviser. These groups perform for events on campus and for various events around the city.

Jazz Ensemble Auditions

Auditions for acceptance and chair placement are held the first Tuesday and Thursday (if needed) in Mago Hunt Arts Center during rehearsal time (4:10pm - 5:35pm) at the beginning of the semester. After auditions, selected jazz combo participants will need to enroll in MUS 447 C (Jazz Combo).

Audition Materials

  • WINDS: 1) Perform the melody of Charlie Parker’s ‘Billie’s Bounce’ with provided backing track. Play head one time then improvise over one chorus. 2) Sight-read jazz excerpt. 3) Prepared etude, solo, jazz ensemble excerpt, or additional jazz standard with improvisation (bring concert chart if you are selecting this option)
    • Lead Trumpet and Trombone: Please prepare an jazz ensemble excerpt highlighting your range
  • RHYTHM SECTION (Piano, Guitar, Bass, Drums): Rhythm section players audition together. Perform one of the following jazz selections (Oleo, Recorda Me, Body and Soul, Billie’s Bounce) to demonstrate improvisational, comping, walking, or timekeeping abilities, and sight-read jazz selection.
  • VOCALISTS: Please reach out to Dr. Postle ( for possible singing opportunities with the jazz ensemble during the semester.

Jazz Ensenble Audition Pack


Dr. Matthew Postle

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

University of Portland