Jazz Studies

    Welcome to VCU Jazz, a community that fosters the spirit of creative exploration. Faculty and students thrive together on the opportunities that arise as they grow and learn.

    The VCU Jazz Studies program offers a professional course of study that teaches the skills required to:

    • Excel in the creation and performance of written and unwritten music (pre-planned and improvised), especially that described by the term “jazz”
    • Consider one’s own educational experiences as a springboard for future teaching and audience development
    • Interact in the world of media, technology and business so as to bring one’s creative works effectively into the public’s awareness and thus sustain a successful career

    The VCU Jazz Studies program provides its students outstanding opportunities to pursue jazz performance and writing, as evidenced in part by such successful former students as Steve Wilson (sax, Chick Corea’s Origin); James Genus (bass, Saturday Night Live Band; recordings with Dave Douglas, Michael Brecker, Mike Stern and John Abercrombie); Victor Goines (sax/clarinet, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; director, Juilliard Jazz Studies); Alvester Garnett (drums, recordings with Abbey Lincoln, Cyrus Chestnut, James Carter); Mark Shim (sax, Blue Note recording artist, member of Terence Blanchard sextet); Al Waters (sax, featured with Ray Charles) and Alvin Walker (trombone, Count Basie Orchestra).

    Some 60 majors are enrolled in VCU’s Jazz Studies Program, providing a diverse community of students dedicated to playing and writing jazz music. VCU’s student jazz orchestras have been recognized for winning top honors in four appearances at the Notre Dame Intercollegiate Jazz Festival, appearing at the Smithsonian Institution and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festivals and producing eight acclaimed recordings: “The Tattooed Bride,” “Things to Come,” “Mood Indigo,” “The World on a String,” “It Could Happen to You,” “A Joyful Noise,” “Front Burner,” and “Leap of Faith.”

    VCU students have benefited from visits by numerous guest artists and clinicians including violinist Joe Kennedy Jr.; vocalist René Marie; saxophonists Steve Lacy, Frank Foster, Benny Carter, Branford Marsalis, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Fred Haas, and alumni Victor Goines and Steve Wilson; trumpeters Clark Terry, Woody Shaw, Thad Jones, Wynton Marsalis and Brian Lynch; trombonists Art Baron and Ray Anderson; guitarists Gene Bertoncini and Jimmy Bruno; pianists Jaki Byard, Barry Harris and Billy Taylor; bassists Dave Holland, Chris Lightcap and alumnus James Genus; percussionist Mayra Casales; drummers Louie Bellson, Max Roach and alumnus Alvester Garnett; composer Gunther Schuller; and the Woody Herman and Count Basie orchestras.

    If you have questions about the VCU Jazz Studies program, contact Antonio García, director of Jazz Studies, at ajgarcia@vcu.edu or (804) 827-0699.

    Interested in auditioning? Please view the jazz studies audition tips.


    The faculty of VCU’s Jazz Studies program have been recognized by students, alumni and the jazz community for their accomplishments as musicians, instructors and much more. To learn more about their experience and achievements on the stage, in the classroom and in the community, select a faculty member from the list below.

    Taylor Barnett, Jazz Improvisation, Jazz Theory
    John D’earth, Artist in Residence (Trumpet, Jazz Orchestra I)
    Victor Dvoskin, Bass
    Michael Ess, Guitar, SJE
    Antonio García, Director of Jazz Studies, SJE, Jazz Orchestra I, Trombone, Music Industry
    Wells Hanley, Piano
    Bryan Hooten, Jazz Orchestra II
    Darryl Harper, Jazz History
    J.C. Kuhl, Saxophone
    Adam Larrabee, Guitar
    Tony Martucci, Drum Set, SJE
    Randall Pharr, Bass
    Doug Richards, Arranging
    Rex Richardson, Trumpet

    Alumni Videos

    Steve Wilson, VCUarts alumnus documentary

    Samson Trinh, VCUarts alumnus documentary