UConn Jazz 10tet – Course Outline

Spring Semester, 2019

Course #: MUSI 1115, 5305, section 2 (one credit)
Rehearsal schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 – 4 p.m. Room: MUSB 107
Director: Earl MacDonald
Office: MUSB 207. Telephone: 860-486-0670
Office Hours: Mondays, 10 – 11AM; Wednesdays, 12:05 – 1PM, and by appointment (room MUSB 207)

By establishing middle ground between the 17-piece big band and combos, the UConn Jazz 10tet complements the curricular ensemble offerings within the University of Connecticut’s jazz program. Ranging from nine to twelve instrumentalists (although usually ten), the small size of the ensemble facilitates instruction in improvisation and musical interaction within rehearsals. Typically, the Jazz 10tet focuses on the music of a specific composer, arranger or professional band for a semester. Past composers include Michael Abene, Phil Allen, Bill Cunliffe, Miles Davis (Birth of the Cool), Gil Evans, Jeff Fuller, Earl MacDonald, Rob McConnell, Jim McNeely, John Mills, Michael Phillip Mossman, Gerry Mulligan, Marty Paich (Art Pepper +11), Dave Rivello and Nathan Parker-Smith.

This semester, the ensemble will prepare music by John Mills (the professor of jazz composition at University of Texas at Austin), as well as arrangements of classic BlueNote™era jazz repertoire from the late 1950s and ’60s, arranged by Mark Taylor, Mike Tomaro, and Michael Philip Mossman. Student performances will be historically and stylistically informed by studying the original, small group, recorded versions. Insight into the arranging process will be gained, by noting where the new versions deviate from and expound upon the originals.

Within this ensemble, the students will…

  • become acquainted with the stylistic nuances of swing, through the analysis of audio recordings, videos and in-person demonstrations.
  • develop proficiency in interpreting notated jazz ensemble music.
  • refine the art of blending their sound within their section and across sections of the ensemble (ie. saxophone with trumpet).
  • build skills in jazz improvisation, musicianship and musical interaction.
  • strive to elevate their individual sight-reading expertise.
  • cultivate self-reflection practices through critiquing and assessing their personal and group performance in concerts and rehearsals.
  • be exposed to a variety of jazz repertoire and be able to place it into historical and social context.
  • add to their cumulative, preparatory experience for professional performance situations (including being aware of varying of rehearsal and practice techniques).
  • present exciting, well-programmed concerts of the highest caliber.
  • have fun, playing great music!

On-campus performances:

  • Feb. 17 (Sun.):  Jazz Showcase.  3PM. VDM.
  • April 2 (Tues.): UConn Jazz 10tet. 7 PM. Ballard Institute Theatre


  • Rehearsal preparedness, etiquette and participation: 30%
    • For all rehearsals and performances, students are expected to: have practiced & prepared the assigned music (including listening to preexisting recordings, if applicable), be in attendance and on time, bring the necessary equipment, and act responsibly & professionally. [See the policies outlined below.]
  • Recorded mastery appraisals: 20%
    • Using their smartphones, students will be asked to video record themselves or their sections playing selected passages (solis, etc.). The recordings will be uploaded for the director’s viewing and assessment.
  • Written Reflections: 10%
    • Two, one-page written reflections will be submitted by each student. One will be written following a rehearsal, and the other, post-performance. The reflection should address favorable attributes/outcomes (individually, as a section, and as an ensemble), as well as shortcomings and next steps.
  • Listening reports: 15%
    • Outside of class, students will listen to three albums, representing the essentially influential jazz orchestras of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis. For each of the three albums, a questionnaire form will be completed to convey what was heard and how it relates to common day artistic jazz practices.
  • Performances: 25%
    • For judging development, progression and accomplishment over a period of time, concerts serve the same function as midterm and final examinations in traditional courses.

* The programming, course content and grading scheme are subject to modification at the directors discretion.

Jazz Ensemble Rehearsal & Performance Policies

  1. Students must be in attendance and on time at all rehearsals and performances. If sickness or an emergency situation requires that the student be absent from a rehearsal, the student must arrange for a substitute. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the instructor in advance and get the music to the substitute. (It is also the responsibility of the student to get his/her music back from the substitute for the next rehearsal.) Failure to provide the substitute with the music for rehearsal, or failure to get the music back for the next rehearsal may result in the lowering of the student’s final grade. A voicemail message should be left at least one hour prior to the rehearsal at (860) 486-0670. An unexcused absence will result in the lowering of the student’s grade. Students with three unexcused absences will be immediately dropped from the class and assigned an “F” for the semester. Only the instructor may determine what constitutes an “excused absence”. Repeated tardiness will result in a lowering of the student’s final grade.
  2. Performances scheduled after the semester begins will be mandatory for the student if no objection is raised at the time of the query. Any student who misses a performance without permission in advance from the instructor will be immediately dropped from the class and assigned an “F” for the semester.
  3. No food or drink (except water) is allowed in the rehearsal room.
  4. Cell phones are to be turned off and not used during rehearsals and performances. “Texting”during rehearsals is not permitted.
  5. Any music handed out to students during the semester is the sole responsibility of that student. Failure to return any music to the jazz department that was handed out during the year will require the student to pay for replacement of the missing music. When music is no longer available from the publisher, student will submit a complete part transcribed from the score utilizing a music notation program (Finale, Sibelius, etc.) NO EXCEPTIONS! Grades will not be issued until all music is returned.
  6. Students are expected to act responsibly and professionally at all rehearsals and performances. Concert attire is semi-formal: ties/coats for men. No tennis shoes, jeans, sunglasses or hats. At NO TIME are students permitted to drink alcohol at/before a jazz rehearsal or performance.

Policies from the University Senate, the Office of Institutional Equity, the Office of the Provost, and Community Standards can be viewed at the following web page:


The University of Connecticut is committed to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and assuring that the learning environment is accessible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. Students who require accommodations should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities, Wilbur Cross Building Room 204, (860) 486-2020 or http://csd.uconn.edu/.

In case of inclement weather, a natural disaster, or a campus emergency, the University communicates through email and text message. Students are encouraged to sign up for alerts through http://alert.uconn.edu. Students should be aware of emergency procedures, and further information is available through the Office of Emergency Management at http://publicsafety.uconn.edu/emergency/.

Some useful telephone numbers:

  • Counseling and Mental Health Services: 486-4705 (after hours: 486-3427) www.cmhs.uconn.edu
  • Career Services: 486-3013 www.career.uconn.edu
  • Alcohol and Other Drug Services: 486-9431 www.aod.uconn.edu
  • Dean of Students Office: 486-3426 www.dos.uconn.edu

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