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.

Registration:

Incoming students are encouraged to enroll for MUS 253 (Jazz Ensemble). 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).

Auditions:

Auditions are low-pressure, and consist of the following:

  • WINDS: Perform one of the following 4 jazz selections with backing-track (Autumn Leaves, Billie’s Bounce, Just Friends, Oleo) – Play head then improvise over 1 chorus, and Sight-read jazz excerpt. Optional prepared etude, solo, jazz ensemble excerpt, or improvise over B-flat or F blues w/ backing-track.
  • RHYTHM SECTION: Rhythm section players audition together. Perform one of the following jazz selections (Autumn Leaves, Billie’s Bounce, Just Friends, Oleo) to demonstrate improvisational, comping, walking, or timekeeping abilities, and Sight-read jazz selection.
  • GUITAR PLAYERS: Perform one of the following 4 jazz selections with backing-track or pianist (Autumn Leaves, Billie’s Bounce, Just Friends, Oleo) – Play head then improvise over 1 chorus, and Sight-read jazz excerpt. Showcase knowledge of jazz comping style, voicings and jazz improvisational style.

Download the appropriate charts and backing tracks for your instrument to assist you with your audition preparation here.

For more information about the Jazz Ensembles at the University of Portland, contact director Joseph L. Jefferson, jefferso@up.edu or (503) 943-8776.

Contact

University of Portland
5000 N. Willamette Blvd.,
Portland, Oregon 97203-5798

503.943.8000

webmaster@up.edu