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Jazz Studies

Play your heart out.

Jazz Studies at LSU have a rich history that can be traced back to the 1950s. Boasting such student alums as trombone legend Carl Fontana, composer/pianist Les Hooper and many others who have made significant contributions to America’s great art form, the School of Music continues to nurture young jazz talent in a vibrant, collaborative musical environment.

 

Jazz Studies Offerings

Ensembles

Conductor: Brian Shaw

The LSU Jazz Ensemble is the premier big band at LSU. The ensemble has performed with many notable guest artists and specializes in classic and modern repertoire from the large jazz ensemble canon. The LSU Jazz Ensemble plays the music of notable jazz composers including Rufus Reid, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Maria Schneider, Bob Brookmeyer, Dave Holland, Darcy Argue, Kenny Wheeler, Jim McNeely, and regularly premieres new works by faculty arrangers and advanced students.

Conductor: Doug Stone

Students in the Jazz Lab Band will receive specific instruction on how to approach jazz big band music with its specific, characteristic, and unique style. Repertoire is selected from significant historic and modern ensembles and composers; Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Bob Mintzer, Matt Harris, and many others.

Conductor: Student-led, with guidance from Willis Delony, Doug Stone, or John Bishop.

Students enrolled in MUS 4255 will be placed in small groups comprised of 3-6 members. In these chamber ensembles, emphasis is placed on advanced improvisation skills, mastery of multiple styles, arranging and composing skills. Students will experience a deep immersion in both the core standard repertory as well as new, contemporary music.


Degrees

The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree is a viable alternative for those students who prefer a more flexible and less intensive music curriculum than is possible under the Bachelor of Music Education or Bachelor of Music curricula.

  • Curriculum includes participation in Jazz Band and Chamber Jazz, Jazz Arranging, Jazz Fundamentals for Teachers, History of Jazz Styles, and Senior Recital.
  • Requires ensemble courses and Primary Applied Jazz Lessons that students should begin taking in their first semester.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE

The Master of Music degree is designed to continue students' fine arts studies with deeper focus and analysis.

  • A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit (33 hours for Music Theory) is required to complete the degree.
  • Up to six hours of graduate credit may be transferred from another institution if such credit satisfies required or elective courses at LSU and is approved by the Area Coordinator of the course area.
  • The master’s degree must be completed within five years.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MASTER OF MUSIC DEGREE

Doctoral students majoring in other performance or academic areas may earn a minor (cognate) in jazz studies. 

 

Notable Jazz Alumni & Recent Guest Artists

The Jazz Studies program is renowned for both its extensive network of alumni and connections with elite artists and clinicians, all of whom regularly visit LSU and interact with students in the jazz studies area and ensembles.

  • Carl Fontana
  • Les Hooper
  • Jon Noffsinger
  • Ricky Draper
  • Brad Walker
  • John Madere
  • Oscar Rossignoli
  • Graham Breedlove
  • Harry Watters
  • Rex Richardson

  • Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson
  • David Baker
  • Wayne Bergeron
  • Jewell Brown
  • Doc Cheetham
  • John Clayton
  • Tony Dagradi
  • Bill Dobbins
  • Rosana Eckert
  • Peter Erskine
  • Robert Glasper
  • Wycliffe Gordon
  • Hilary Kole
  • Branford Marsalis
  • Sasha Masakowski
  • Steve Masakowski
  • Rufus Reid
  • Paquito D’Rivera
  • Ellen Rowe
  • Bobby Shew
  • Fred Sturm
  • Ike Sturm
  • McCoy Tyner
  • Jiggs Whigham
  • Nicole Zuraitis

 

A Brief History of Jazz at LSU

Prior to 1984, the jazz scene at LSU was active but relatively informal, often driven and led by students. In that year, the university made an important commitment to jazz education when it hired its first Director of Jazz Studies, renowned bassist and composer/arranger Bill Grimes. Over the course of his distinguished career on the faculty Dr. Grimes spearheaded the creation of critical coursework and curricula while also establishing a high standard of student jazz performance that continues to be showcased in our two large ensembles and numerous chamber groups.

In 2000, the jazz faculty expanded with the addition of pianist and arranger Dr. Willis Delony, a well-known classical and jazz performer who is now Boyd Professor of Piano and Jazz Studies. In 2007, Dr. Brian Shaw joined the School of Music as both trumpet and jazz instructor. As a performer, Dr. Shaw is a widely-respected trumpeter in both the classical and jazz worlds, and is also a noted composer and arranger.

Upon Dr. Grimes’s retirement in 2018, the virtuoso jazz saxophonist Doug Stone, an alumnus of the Maynard Ferguson band, joined the School of Music faculty. In addition to his teaching duties, Prof. Stone maintains a vigorous, high profile performing schedule while also serving as President of the Louisiana Association for Jazz Education. More recently, guitarist John Bishop, one of the region’s most in demand players, joined the faculty as an applied instructor.