American University's jazz program is dedicated to providing an educational and enriching atmosphere through which the campus community can learn and foster an appreciation for jazz. Through performances, classes, symposia, student ensembles and clubs, students are able to engage in the historical, cultural, stylistic, and artistic aspects of jazz music. Furthermore, AU Jazz is engaged in outreach efforts throughout Washington, DC, to expose the community to the greatness that is "America's Classical Music."
The AU Jazz Orchestra (PERF-145-002) is a big band ensemble for students and faculty who wish to study and perform jazz music. Classes are held every Wednesday Night, 5:30–8:00, at the Katzen Arts Center. The Jazz Orchestra has about three to four performances per year with two main concerts in the Katzen Arts Center Abramson Recital Hall.
The AU Workshop explores the intersection between jazz and other kinds of music including (but not limited to) funk, fusion, rock and contemporary classical. Student’s input and creative energy are a central element of the ensemble. Each semester the members of the ensemble create a concert concept that is realized through student arrangements and newly composed original works for the ensemble. The ensemble’s most recent concert, Collage, was performed without break by incorporating musical interludes. The concert also included film elements and a DJ.
Improvisation is also a primary emphasis of the group and encompasses a number of musical styles. To that end, each rehearsal includes an improvisational component to improve student’s ability and comfort level in this area. The goal of the ensemble is to explore the merging of styles that has been a tradition in all genres of music and is revitalizing the art form today.
The AU Jazz Combo
The Jazz Combo is a smaller ensemble for students and faculty who wish to study and perform jazz music in a more intimate setting. The Combo performs jazz standards as well as original compositions. There is a focus onimprovisation while also exploring swing, bebop, hard bop, jazz fusion, funk, blues, and R&B styles. The Jazz Combo performs with the Jazz Ensemble at concerts, campus events, and around the city of DC. The Combo also hosts a weekly on-campus jam session that's free and open to the public.