Jazz Studies and Ensembles

Dr. Dave Stamps, director

The Gustavus Jazz Studies program has a long history of excellence throughout the state of Minnesota and northern midwest. In 2015, the Gustavus Jazz Ensemble won the College Big Band Division at the prestigious Eau Claire Jazz Festival. The following year, the ensemble travelled to Greece and Macedonia for a performance and cultural immersion tour. This coming January, the Gustavus Jazz Ensemble will commence on a performance tour across South Dakota and Colorado in tandem with the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra.

The program boasts two large big bands, a vocal jazz ensemble, five combos, and a jazz guitar collective. Course offerings include: jazz history, improvisation, music industry & entrepreneurship, applied lessons, and independent studies in composition and arranging.

GJAZZ 2017


2018-19 Instrumental Jazz Ensemble Auditions

Students interested in participating in a large jazz ensemble and/or combo should check-in for their audition outside of room 103 in the Music Building.

Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Jazz Guitar, and Jazz Mallet auditions include:

  • major scales
  • sight-reading
  • a prepared etude (downloadable below!)
  • optional – improvisation over a Blues or standard tune of your choice
  • Saxophonists are encouraged to indicate doubling abilities on flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet

Rhythm Section (piano, bass, and drum set) auditions will be in a group format for returning students and one on one for first year students. They will include:

  • demonstration of swing, latin, and rock/funk grooves
  • interaction with other rhythm section members (returning students only)
  • prepared performance of the jazz standard Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma (lead sheets can be found online or in The Real Book - Volume 1). Special attention should be paid to playing the melody, comping chord changes or walking bass lines, and marking the tune’s form.
  • optional – improvisation over a Blues or standard tune of your choice

Vocal auditions include:

  • two contrasting prepared songs from the Great American Songbook
  • a sight-singing exercise
  • a brief interview regarding your past experience fronting an ensemble.


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