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.
Mike Tomaro, director
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.
In addition to the standard jazz repertoire, the ensemble regularly performs themed concerts. Past concerts have included the music of Frank Zappa, Sting & The Police, The Beatles, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Henry Mancini, The 70's Horn Bands (Chicago; Earth, Wind & Fire; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Tower of Power), and Michael Jackson. They have also performed music of movies and television.
In 2013, the Duquesne University Jazz Ensemble had the opportunity to collaborate with the Pittsburgh Pirates. An original theme was recorded that was used for the starting lineup promo video shown at every home game that season.
The band enjoys an active schedule that includes concerts on campus, at local schools, and at community events.
Jeff Bush, director
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
Kelley Krepin DeFade, director
Vocal Jazz Ensemble is a small ensemble, 8–12 students, 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
Eric Susoeff, director
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.