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Jazz Ensembles

The VCU Jazz community fosters the spirit of creative exploration. Our faculty and students have numerous opportunities for creative expression in the department’s jazz orchestras and small jazz ensembles. Jazz Studies ensembles and orchestras have received recognition and top honors for their performances and recordings. Ranging from small jazz combos to big band orchestrations, the jazz ensembles incorporate a variety of styles and works.

Fall 2014 Audition Dates

Thursday, August 21 (VCU classes begin)

  • Noon-5:30p, MC 2014 VCU Jazz Horn (especially Saxes!) auditions for large and small jazz ensembles.

Friday, August 22

  • 9:30-10:40a, 12:20-2p, MC 2014–Jazz Horn auditions. (No saxes 10-10:40a or 12:20-1p.)
  • 2:10-5p, MC 2014–Jazz Guitar/Piano auditions.

Monday, August 25

  • 9:30-10:30a: MC 2014–Jazz Piano/Bass/Drum auditions
  • 12:30-4p, MC 2014–Jazz Piano/Bass/Drum auditions
  • 4-5p, MC 2014–Deliberations

Late Tuesday, August 26 or early Wednesday, August 27

  • Posting of ensemble rosters on Jazz Board outside MC 2014. All ensemble members must then register for the correct ensemble, and auditionees not placed in an ensemble they may have registered for must then drop the course so as to avoid receiving a failing grade at the end of the semester.

Wednesday, August 27 (Last day for students to add/drop a course.)

  •  3:40-5:30p, MC 1003–First rehearsal of Jazz Orchestra I

Thursday, August 28

  • 4:40-6:20p, MC 1003–First rehearsal of Jazz Orchestra II.

Audition Information and Requirements

All interested students are required to read the applicable portions of the VCU Jazz Studies Handbook  [PDF] regarding audition scheduling and policies. You must arrive at your audition with a completed VCU Jazz Audition Form.

  • Horns: Unaccompanied performance of a melody and, if possible, improvised solo over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. You may be asked to perform an accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice, as well as basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique.
  • Piano: Performance of a melody and accompaniment and, if possible, improvised solo over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. You may be asked to perform basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique, as well as comping of a variety of styles on request, especially swing, bossa and samba.
  • Guitar and bass: Performance of a melody and, if possible, improvised solo over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. You may be asked to perform an accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice, as well as basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique, and comping of a variety of styles on request, especially swing, bossa and samba.
  • Drums: Unaccompanied performance of a variety of styles on request, including swing, ballad, waltz, bossa, samba and Afro-Cuban, plus possibly trading fours. Drummers are required to bring their own cymbals, hi-hat clutch, sticks and brushes.
  • Percussion: Unaccompanied performance of styles including bossa, samba and Afro-Cuban. Congas, bongos and some hand percussion are available at the audition.
  • All: Sight-reading as provided by the jurors.

Required Rhythmic Reading

All students auditioning for jazz ensembles must download the following jazz rhythm documents: Audition Rhythms sheet [PDF] and practice with swing and even eighths to prepare for your audition. Bring this sheet with you to your audition as you may be asked to start and stop at any measure.

You are also expected to review the examples below.
Since swing phrasing typically presents a greater challenge than even-eighths, this page is marked to reveal how and why medium-swing phrases are articulated. While viewing this sheet online, click “Example 1” in the upper-left corner to hear a sound-file of the audition rhythms being played with acceptable style. Practice reading either of these two sheets while listening to the sound-file to check to check your playing for errors.
jazz-rhythem1
An additional example (below) also allows you to view and listen to the audition rhythms being played with unacceptable style, followed by proper phrasing. Click “Example 2” in the upper-left corner to hear a sound-file of the audition rhythms being played with unacceptable style.
jazz-rhythem2