Jazz Ensembles

JAZZ ENSEMBLES DURING COVID-19:

During the COVID-19 crisis, the UW Jazz Ensembles will move online as recording ensembles. Under the production guidance of the ensemble directors, students will record songs/projects that are made up of layered instrument tracks recorded individually by the students. Students will sign up for a single section of MUS 262 (undergraduate students) or MUS 562 (graduate students), which will be team-taught by four ensemble directors, Johannes Wallmann, Les Thimmig, Peter Dominguez, and Nick Moran. Personnel will vary for each project, and performers will be assigned to projects based on instrumentation needed, experience, and personnel interests. Over the course of the semester, each student will participate in multiple projects, covering a range of different jazz styles.

The jazz ensemble class will meet weekly online on Wednesdays, 6-8 pm, to discuss logistics and technology, assign personnel to new projects, and listen to completed recordings and works-in-progress. Individual recording projects will work largely asynchronously under the direction of a project producer who may also schedule other online check-ins or discussion.

No prior recording experience is necessary, and students new to multitrack recording will be guided through the process. Minimum hardware requirements will be any setup that allows the student to play back an audio file through headphones, while recording themselves playing along with the audio file. A relatively inexpensive USB-microphone is optional but can enhance students’ experience; however, we recommend that students do not make any such purchases until they have met with their studio instructors (in the case of music majors) or have received notice of a successful audition (in the case of non-majors). The recording software for the jazz recording ensembles is Audacity, which is a freeware program available for Mac, Windows, and Unix.

Pending several factors, including the successful suppression of viral spread on campus and exemptions to the state, county, and university mask requirements for wind players, optional-attendance in-person rehearsals and a live or live-streamed performance of some of the recording projects may be scheduled for November.

AUDITIONS:

Jazz studies majors do not need to audition and will receive a permission code to enroll directly.

Other music majors and non-majors are welcome to audition for the jazz ensembles. For full consideration, interested students should send a link to a private YouTube audition video to wallmann@wisc.edu no later than 8 pm on Tuesday, September 1. The audition video should show the student playing the jazz standard “East of the Sun” using the sheet music and play-along tracks posted at https://uwmadison.box.com/v/JazzAudition

Wind instruments: 1 chorus melody, 2 choruses improvised solo
Voice: 1 chorus melody. Optional: 1 chorus improvised scat solo
Guitar, piano, vibraphone: 1 chorus melody, 1 chorus improvised solo, 1 chorus comping
Bass: 1 chorus with a 2-feel, 1 chorus walking, 1 chorus improvised solo
Drums: play the entire chart (please note that the drum chart and play-along are for a different piece)


Johannes Wallmann, Director of Jazz Studies

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Jazz Studies program at the UW–Madison Mead Witter School of Music offers a wide variety of ensembles for undergraduate and graduate students to join, both music majors and non-music majors alike. Jazz students have opportunities to perform both on and off campus numerous times per year, in groups ranging from the traditional big band setting to small contemporary ensembles to Latin jazz-focused combos.

Click here for audition information.

Contact:
performingorgs@music.wisc.edu
(608) 263-1770

  • UW Jazz Orchestra (The Big Band)

    Johannes Wallmann, director

    Rehearsal Schedule: Monday and Wednesday, 3:30 PM–5:30 PM; 1321 Humanities Bldg.
    Fall 2019 concerts: Monday, October 21; Friday, November 22
    Course Number: 660-262 (for undergraduate credit), 660-562 (for graduate credit); 1 credit.
    Prerequisites: Audition. Saxophonists: flute and/or clarinet doubling experience preferred, but not required.
    Description: The UWJO consists of 5 saxophones (2 altos, 2 tenors, 1 baritone), 4–5 trumpets, 4–5 trombones, piano, guitar, bass, and drums. The group workshops and performs music ranging from classic big band repertoire to contemporary and cutting-edge concert jazz music by today’s leading jazz composers. Twice-weekly rehearsals, plus on-campus and off-campus performances.

  • Blue Note Ensemble (Small Group)

    Chris Rottmayer, director

    Rehearsal Schedule: Tuesday 6:00–8:00 PM; 1321 Humanities Bldg.
    Fall 2019 concerts: Tuesday, October 15; Friday, November 15; Friday, December 6
    Course Number: 660-262 (for undergraduate credit), 660-562 (for graduate credit); 1 credit.
    Prerequisites: Audition.
    Description: The Blue Note Ensemble consists of 2–3 frontline instruments (trumpets, trombones, saxophones, other woodwinds or high strings), 1–2 comping instruments (piano, guitar, vibraphone), bass, and drums. It performs music from the post-bop jazz period of the 1950s and 1960s (such as the music of Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, or Art Blakey). Each semester primarily focuses on the music of a single jazz artist.

  • Contemporary Jazz Ensemble (Small Group)

    Johannes Wallmann, director

    Rehearsal Schedule: Wednesday 6:00–8:00 PM, 1321 Humanities Bldg.
    Fall 2019 concerts: Friday, October 4; Tuesday, October 15; Tuesday, December 3
    Course Number: 660-262 (for undergraduate credit), 660-562 (for graduate credit); 1 credit.
    Prerequisite: Audition.
    Description: The Contemporary Jazz Ensemble consists of 2–3 frontline instruments (trumpets, trombones, saxophones, other woodwinds or high strings), 1–2 comping instruments (piano, guitar, vibraphone), bass, and drums. This small group performs contemporary, mainstream jazz repertoire from the last two decades (such as the music of Dave Douglas, Terence Blanchard, Kenny Wheeler, Chris Potter, David Binney, Dave Holland, and Brian Blade) as well as student compositions.

  • Jazz Composers Group

    Les Thimmig, director

    Rehearsal Schedule: Tuesday 3:30–5:30 PM
    Fall 2019 concerts: Wednesday, October 23; Wednesday, December 3; Friday, December 13
    Course Number: 660-004; 1 credit.
    Prerequisites: Audition.
    Description: A small jazz ensemble focused primarily on student compositions, consisting of trumpet, alto saxophone and tenor saxophone with woodwind doubles, trombone, piano, bass, and guitar.

  • Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble (small group)

    Nick Moran, director

    Rehearsal Schedule: Thursday 6:00–8:00 PM; 1321 Humanities Bldg.
    Fall 2019 concerts: Monday, October 21; Friday, November 15; Wednesday, December 4
    Course Number: 660-262 (for undergraduate credit), 660-562 (for graduate credit); 1 credit.
    Prerequisite: Audition.
    Description: A small jazz ensemble that covers a wide range of Afro-Cuban music, including son, son montuno, guaracha, mambo, bembe, danzón, guaguancó, cha-cha-chá, mozambique, rumba, and bolero. Students in the Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble work with the rhythmic concepts of clave in practical application, including improvisation and theoretical knowledge. The group consists of 2–4 frontline instruments (brass, woodwinds, or strings), 1–2 comping instruments (piano, guitar, vibraphone), bass, drums, and percussion.

  • Jazz Standards Ensemble (Small Group)

    Nick Moran, director

    Rehearsal Schedule: Thursdays 3:30–5:30 PM; 1321 Humanities Bldg.
    Fall 2019 concerts: Friday, October 4; Wednesday, October 23; Wednesday, December 4
    Course Number: 660-262 (for undergraduate credit), 660-562 (for graduate credit); 1 credit.
    Prerequisite: Audition.
    Description: The Jazz Standards Ensemble performs music from the standard jazz repertoire. It consists of 2–3 frontline instruments (trumpets, trombones, saxophones, other woodwinds or high strings), 1–2 comping instruments (piano, guitar, vibraphone), bass, and drums.