Duquesne University has long been known both locally and nationally for its jazz program. Directed and coached by some of the finest jazz musicians, our students have the ability to participate in a variety of different jazz ensembles.

Jazz Ensemble

The Jazz Ensemble has been a principal performing group at Duquesne University for many years. Guest soloists have included such artists as Mike Stern, David Leibman, Randy Brecker, John Scofield, Claudio Roditi, Slide Hampton, Michael Davis, Mark Shilansky, Dick Oatts, Denis DiBlasio, Michael Abene, and Phil Woods.

The band enjoys an active schedule that includes concerts on campus, at local schools, and at community events.

Jazz Workshop

Jazz Workshop focuses on students growing as jazz musicians in the traditional big band/jazz orchestra format. Specific attention is given to sectional/ensemble playing, improving sight reading skills, improvisation, and familiarization of different styles. Jazz Workshop studies historically significant repertoire that also provides an opportunity to hone skills that are essential to the working jazz musician. The music of the great master bands of the idiom including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Thad Jones form the bedrock of the group's "book." Jazz Workshop performs at least twice annually on campus.

Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Vocal Jazz Ensemble is a small ensemble that is designed to equip the aspiring jazz singer to sing outside of a solo environment and immerse themselves in developing the skill set of an ensemble singer. Singers will attain these goals by learning how to develop communication skills amongst each other, engaging in discussion surrounding interpretive opinions as they pertain to the jazz idiom, and learning of the repertoire of jazz composers/arrangers both past and present. The VJE will have multiple performance opportunities. Placement in the ensemble is by audition only. Any music major may audition for the vocal ensemble. Students outside of the music school may audition by invitation only.

Jazz Guitar Ensemble

Duquesne's Jazz Guitar Ensemble has gained regional and national attention with featured performances at Carnegie Music Hall and the Tri-State "Guitar's Finest Hour" recitals, local jazz venues, and conventions. The jazz guitar ensemble performs arrangements in the traditional jazz and jazz fusion styles with a rhythm section. Students are encouraged to submit arrangements that are performed each semester.

Jazz Chamber Groups

Jazz Chamber groups are trio through sextet in size and typically feature traditional jazz instrumentation. Students learn a working repertoire of standard jazz material and, along with the instructor, create arrangements specific for their group. Original student compositions can be developed over the course of the semester and are welcomed for all groups.

The jazz chamber groups perform on- and off-campus each year. These groups have been featured annually on the Music on the Mount series, a free series of concerts hosted by the Mary Pappert School of Music and St. Mary of the Mount Parish on Mt. Washington.

Jazz Ensemble Directors and Coaches

Mike Tomaro

Program Director of Jazz Studies, Director of Jazz Ensemble

Performance Department

Mike Tomaro plays a tenor saxophone in front of a gray background

Jeff Bush

Assistant Program Director of Jazz Studies; Director of Jazz Workshop and Jazz Chamber Group Coach

Performance Department

Jeff Bush holds a trombone and stands in front of gray background

Kelley Krepin DeFade

Adjunct Professor of Voice, Director of Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Performance Department

Headshot of Kelley Krepin DeFade in front of leaves.

Eric Susoeff

Adjunct Professor of Jazz Guitar, Director of Jazz Guitar Ensemble

Performance Department

Eric Susoeff with a guitar in front of a gray backdrop.

Thomas Wendt

Adjunct Professor of Jazz Percussion, Jazz Chamber Group Coach

Performance Department

Thomas Wendt holds a cymbal in front of a gray background.

Paul Thompson

Adjunct Professor of Bass, Jazz Chamber Group Coach

Performance Department

Paul Thompson plays bass in front of a gray backdrop.

Upcoming Jazz Events

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Duquesne - Pittsburgh Connection

Pittsburgh has an incredibly vibrant jazz scene that encompasses all styles of the genre. Students are warmly welcomed into venues like the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Con Alma, and others not only as listeners, but very often as players, encouraging them to experience this music at its deepest level.

Mike TomaroProgram Director of Jazz Studies