Through his position as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut, Earl is afforded the opportunity to rehearse the university’s premier large jazz ensemble twice per week. He regularly writes new material for the band, and recorded six arrangements with this group in April 2002. The resultant CD, “UConn Jazz” was released on the SeaBreeze Vista recording label and garnered favorable reviews.
In keeping with the small, selective nature of the UConn jazz studies program and the music department as a whole, the UConn Jazz Ensemble ranges from seven to twelve instrumentalists, rather than the typical seventeen-piece big band seen at most academic institutions. The comparatively small size of the ensemble makes off-campus performances practical, and facilitates instruction in improvisation and musical interaction within rehearsals.
Each semester the ensemble focuses on the music of a specific composer/arranger (or professional band). Recent performance projects have included music by Michael Abene, Phil Allen, Bill Cunliffe, Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Earl MacDonald, Rob McConnell, Jim McNeely, John Mills, Gerry Mulligan, Marty Paich (Art Pepper +11), Jeff Presslaff, Dave Rivello and Nathan Parker-Smith.