Combos: There are 9 to 12 ‘combos’ or small groups, ranging from 4-7 players. Each are coached by a faculty member, and rehearse at least once per week. The emphasis is on learning to improvise and play jazz.

The Vocal Jazz Ensemble, led by Ryan Billington, is comprised of four to eight singers plus a rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass and drums. These ensembles are open to all voice majors and any instrumentalists who like to sing. Any university student is welcome to audition. Ensembles focus on jazz styles and fuses them together with funk, pop, and rock styles.

A Capella Ensemble, led by Carolyn Curry, is an auditioned student ensemble that performs a wide range of popular music featuring songwriters, funk, pop, folk, rock, jazz and a variety of styles. Ensemble membership includes vocal and instrumental majors, and students from the arts, science, business and education faculties. The group performs in two or three concerts per academic year in collaboration with other performing groups and occasionally for other events.

The Guitar Ensemble, directed by Kevin Brunkhorst, consists of five guitars plus bass and drums. It plays charts written by students and Prof. Brunkhorst. The music can be difficult but interesting, ranging from straight-ahead swing to progressive rock and fusion. The focus is on reading, lead playing, and ensemble sound. Admission to this is by audition only, and is separate from combo credit. Videos of recent Guitar Ensemble performances can be found on YouTube by following this link.

The Nonet, directed by Paul Tynan, has five horns plus a rhythm section of guitar, piano, bass, and drums. They perform charts written by students of MUSI 420 Arranging, faculty members, and professional writers. It’s partially for the players to learn and play more challenging music, and partially for the composers, some of whom are in the ensemble, to hear their work.