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, ranging from the larger ensembles (listed below) to jazz chamber groups. Additionally, guitar students can perform with the Jazz Guitar Ensemble.
The Jazz Ensemble, directed by Mike Tomaro, 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 and is used for the starting lineup promo video shown at every home game. Click below to see and hear the results of that collaboration.
The band enjoys an active schedule that includes concerts on campus, at local schools, and at community events.
Under the direction of trombonist Jeff Bush, 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.