- Jazz Performance Workshops
- Eastman Jazz Ensemble
- Eastman New Jazz Ensemble
- Eastman Jazz Lab Band
- Eastman Studio Orchestra
Jazz Performance Workshops
Jazz Performance Workshops were instituted in the fall of 1999 under the supervision of Harold Danko, with the purpose of integrating classroom jazz studies and small group performance. Since that time, workshop groups and soloists have consistently won Down Beat Magazine awards and been invited to play at prestigious festivals such as the Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, NY, the JVC Jazz Festival in New York City, and the East Coast Jazz Festival in Maryland. Guest performers and clinicians are invited to work with these ensembles throughout the school year. There are seven sections of JPWs, which meet Mondays and Wednesdays from either 1:35 – 3:25 or 3:35 – 5:25, and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:35 – 3:25. Faculty workshop coaches are Harold Danko, Clay Jenkins, Jeff Campbell, and Dariusz Terefenko.
Eastman Jazz Ensemble
The Eastman Jazz Ensemble has been recognized as one of the world’s premier collegiate jazz performing organizations for three decades. Years before Eastman alumnus Chuck Mangione became the ensemble’s first faculty director, the band was established and governed by Eastman student musicians. In 1970, former Radio City Music Hall musical director Rayburn Wright was hired to develop the Eastman jazz studies and contemporary media program and in 1972 he succeeded Mangione as director of the Jazz Ensemble. Bill Dobbins, who led the group from 1989 to 1994, returned to the position in 2002 after an eight-year tenure as principal director of the WDR Radio Big Band in Cologne, Germany. Fred Sturm served as director from 1995 to 2002. The Eastman Jazz Ensemble has frequently received the award for “Best Big Band” in the Annual Down Beat Magazine Student Music Awards, most recently in 2000. It has frequently been featured at the Annual Conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators, most recently in New York City in 2001. The group has performed at the International Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland and in renowned concert halls throughout the world. Guest performers and conductors with the group have included such highly acclamed jazz artists as Bill Holman, Clare Fischer, Bob Brookmeyer, Benny Carter, Benny Golson, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland, Joe Lovano, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, Toots Thielemans, Kenny Wheeler, and Phil Woods.
Eastman New Jazz Ensemble
The Eastman New Jazz Ensemble was established to showcase the finest contemporary music from around the world written for jazz ensemble. Performing repertoire primarily from the last 20 years, the New Jazz Ensemble plays music not often heard or yet recorded, and frequently premieres new works, including those of student writers. Recent composers who have appeared with the ensemble include Bob Brookmeyer, Jim McNeely, Ellen Rowe, Joey Seller, and Dave Liebman. Led by composer Dave Rivello, the New Jazz Ensemble is open to Eastman students by audition only.
The Eastman Jazz Lab Band is a full 17-piece jazz ensemble, consisting of both undergraduate and graduate students. The ensemble performas a full range of big band repertoire including works by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Thad Jones, Bill Holman, and more. The band also performas arrangements by known Eastman jazz alumni and current Eastman jazz student arrangers. The band is on a new track bringing in an exciting quest soloist for its spring concert each year. The ensemble is directed by Associate Professor Rich Thompson and assisted by a graduate JCM student. The ensemble is open to Eastman and River Campus students by audition only.
The Eastman Studio Orchestra combines the personnel of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble with a full complement of strings, woodwinds, French horn, harp, and percussion from Eastman’s two symphony orchestras. Using the large professional recording studio ensemble, Hollywood film soundstage orchestras, European radio orchestras, and the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra as models, the 70-piece Eastman Studio Orchestra performs a broad range of repertoire that incorporates jazz, classical music, music for film, contemporary pop, and world music. Since 1995, the Eastman Studio Orchestra has performed Duke Ellington’s 1951 Harlem Suite (A Tone Parallel to Harlem), music from Vince Mendoza’s “Epiphany” suite, selections from Nancy Wilson’s Love, Nancy CD, film and Broadway works by Leonard Bernstein, and Eastman student film scoring projects. Works by current Eastman students are regularly performed and recorded by the Eastman Studio Orchestra. Over the past 30 years, renowned artists have been featured with the Eastman Studio Orchestra. Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, David Liebman, Oscar Peterson, Clark Terry, and Phil Woods have been showcased as soloists; composers Michel LeGrand, Bill Holman, and Vince Mendoza have conducted the ensemble in programs featuring their original orchestral works; and the voices of jazz legend Nancy Wilson and Broadway star Davis Gaines have been accompanied by the group. The ensemble has frequently been named the winner of the Down Beat Magazine Student Music Awards “Best Studio Orchestra” category. University and high school studio orchestra programs throughout America have been patterned after the design of the Eastman Studio Orchestra.
Saxology® was originally formed in 1980, when the saxophone and rhythm sections of the top Eastman Jazz Ensemble got together to play the published repertoire of the professional jazz group Supersax. With a dedication toward finding new and interesting ways for the saxophone section to play together, Saxology® has grown into an ensemble with its own unique identity and repertoire. Most all of the arrangements and compositions are written by Ramon Ricker and current or former members of the band. Its “book” now ranges from swing to free, with an ample portion of hard bop music in between. Since its beginning the group has received widespread acclaim including awards in 1981, 1987, 1991 and 1995 from Down Beat magazine for Best College Instrumental Jazz Group. Individually its members have “graduated” to the bands of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Harry Connick, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Freddie Hubbard, and Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Orchestra. Saxology® can often be heard in concert settings in Upstate New York. Other notable performances include two tours of southern Germany, concerts at the International Association of Jazz Educator’s Conference in Washington, D.C. and Boston, the Montreal Quebec and Montreaux, Switzerland Jazz Festivals and the Seventh World Saxophone Congress in Nuremberg, Germany. The group has recorded one LP for Mark Records and two CDs for Advance Music, with Jerry Bergonzi and Bob Mintzer as guest soloists. Saxology® is strictly extracurricular and is assembled on demand for special concerts, performances, and projects.