Jazz Lab Band – Course Outline

MUSI 1115: Jazz Ensembles

The preparation, study, and performance of large jazz ensemble music, representing a spectrum of styles and periods, as a means to provide understanding of the genre’s historical, social and cultural contexts. CA1.

Credits: One credit each semester. Two laboratory periods. May be repeated for credit.

Rehearsal schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 – 3:45 P.M. Music Building.

Earl MacDonald and John Mastroianni

Jazz Studies Office: MUSB 207. Telephone: 486-0670

Office Hours:
TBA & by appointment

Required Method Book: Rhythm Madness for Trumpet & all treble clef instruments (bass clef available as well), by Rich Willey. This book is available in the UConn Bookstore. Website: boptism.com

Fall 2021 Event Dates

Sunday, September 19…Jazz Showcase Concert in VDM @ 3:00 P.M.

Tuesday, September 21Caroline Davis Master Class in VDM @ 2:00 P.M.

Sunday, October 24…Jazz Combos Concert in VDM @ 3:00 P.M. (FYI)

Sunday, November 7…Jazz Lab Band Concert in VDM @ 3:00 P.M.

Sunday, December 5…Jazz Ensemble Concert in VDM @ 6:00 P.M. (FYI)

Jazz ensembles at the University of Connecticut are open to students from all concentrations within the university who demonstrate the requisite instrumental skill in their audition.

By studying, preparing, and performing repertoire that represents the wide spectrum of jazz styles and eras, the UConn jazz ensembles pay homage to the rich big band tradition. The exact instrumentation, number of class sections, and programmatic concert themes vary from semester to semester, based on enrollment numbers, faculty resources and providing thematic diversification. The ensembles frequently focus on the music of a specific composer, arranger, or professional band, for a semester. Afro-Latin jazz, exploring the intersection of music from Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and the Caribbean is amongst the continuous rotation of repertoire. Additionally, new works composed and/or arranged by UCONN faculty, alumni and students are periodically programmed, thereby providing students with the opportunity to interact with a composer in the process of realizing their artistic vision. All selected repertoires will serve as a vehicle for teaching stylistic nuance, while cultivating an awareness of the music’s historical, social, and cultural significance and contexts. Public engagement is accomplished through providing concerts and workshops at high schools, educational jazz festivals, and music education conferences throughout New England.


Within these large jazz ensembles, the students will…

  • be exposed to a variety of jazz repertoire and be able to place it into historical, social, and cultural contexts.
  • recognize and understand how jazz has amalgamated with other culturally expressive styles, morphing into new subgenres (Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz, Jazz-Rock fusion, Third Stream, contemporary composition, etc.)
  • identify the stylistic nuances of various jazz styles, through the analysis of audio recordings, videos and in-person demonstrations.
  • develop proficiency in interpreting notated jazz ensemble music, including sight-reading.
  • build skills in jazz improvisation and spontaneous musical interaction, as an alternative means of musical expression to Western musical notation practices.
  • improve their ability to sonically blend within their section and across sections of the ensemble (e.g., saxophone with trumpet).
  • cultivate self-reflection practices through critiquing and assessing their personal and group performance in rehearsals and concerts.
  • present exciting, well-programmed concerts of the highest caliber.


  • Rehearsal preparedness, participation and professionalism: 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.
  • Recorded mastery appraisals and reflection: 15%
    • Students will video record themselves or their sections playing selected passages (solis, etc.).
    • In tandem, students will submit a one-page written reflection considering the self-recording, and his/her artistic growth in relation to the specific music, period, style, and composer(s) under current preparation.
    • Due date:
      • Thursday, Oct. 28
  • Written Reflections: 15%
    • A one-page post-concert written reflection will be submitted by each student addressing shortcomings, as well as favorable attributes and outcomes, individually, as a section, and as an ensemble.
    • Due date:
      • Thursday, Nov. 11: post concert reflection
  • Listening assignments: 15%
    • 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 [PDF]
    • Due dates:
      • Monday, Oct. 4 @ 9AM.
      • Thurs., Oct. 21
      • Thurs., Nov. 18
  • Performances: 25%
    • Concerts serve as a principal means for judging musical development, progression and accomplishment over a period of time within ensembles.

Jazz Ensemble Rehearsal & Performance Policies

  1. Students must be in attendance, on time, and prepared for all rehearsals and performances. A HuskyCT announcement will be sent every Friday to let students know what to prepare for rehearsals the following week. If sickness or an emergency 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 text message should be left at least one hour prior to the rehearsal at (203) 494-0358. 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. No digital distractions please!
  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, students 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.

It is the responsibility of all students to acquaint themselves, and to adhere to all university policies. Please review the following:

Students are expected to follow all safety protocols and to keep current with university communications regarding COVID-19.

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


Thanks in advance for your enthusiasm and dedication to making great music!  Have an awesome semester!


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