Jazz Ensembles

For more information about the College of Music's jazz ensembles, visit the Jazz Studies Program website.

Jazz ensembles include three big bands, each made up of 18 members, and play the repertoire of the great jazz masters as well as a wide range of soul, swing, blues, and gospel. The four octets are eight-piece ensembles that blend the sounds of big band with small group performance. There are also 12 combos, each consisting of four to six members.

Jazz Orchestra I
The nineteen-piece Jazz Orchestra I (The Be-Bop Spartans) is a young, swinging college band playing the repertoire of the great jazz masters as well as a wide range of soul, swing, blues, and gospel. The group’s instrumentation includes saxophone, trombone, trumpet, bass, drums, piano, guitar, and vocalists. Conductor: Rodney Whitaker

Jazz Orchestra II and III
Conductors: Etienne Charles (II), Michael Dease (III)

Jazz Octet I
The eight-piece Jazz Octet I blends the sounds of big band with small group performance. This ensemble features the most advanced students of MSU’s jazz area, giving them plenty of opportunities for improvisation. The group’s instrumentation includes bass, drums, piano, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and vocals. Conductor: Diego Rivera

Jazz Octets II-IV
Octet II - Diego Rivera, conductor
Octet III - Xavier Davis, conductor
Octet IV - Randy Napoleon, conductor

Jazz Combos
There are ten jazz combos in the Jazz Studies program, each consisting of four to six members forming quartets, quintets, and sextets. Students audition at the beginning of each school year and are placed in a combo, which is coached by one of the combo directors or graduate assistants. Class performance time takes place in Hart Recital Hall each week where combos perform two selections. Combo members are responsible for their own repertoire and arrangements. Directors: Randy Gelispie, Michael Dease, Seth Ebersole, Nick Bracewell, Sage Khan, Olin Clark, and Gina Benalcazar.

Jazz Ensemble Audition Information for Students