Jazz Ensembles

jazz ensemble
The Jazz Ensembles at Sacramento State University are active in performing a wide variety of styles; from the cutting edge contemporary composers such as Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Vince Mendoza, Bill Holman and Bob Brookmeyer to the classics of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones and Charles Mingus. Both large group ensembles perform regular concerts on campus and at top local, regional and international jazz festivals. In 2016, Jazz Ensemble I was the recipient of the college division outstanding Downbeat Student Music Award. And in 2010, the ensemble took 1st place in the annual Reno Jazz Festival in the college division. Other accolades include being selected as a finalist in the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival six times. Prominent guest artists who have performed with the Sacramento State Jazz Ensemble include Eric Marienthal, Donny McCaslin, Ernie Watts, Kenny Werner, Carl Allen, Jon Faddis, Bobby Shew, Mark Levine and the Latin Tinge, Conrad Herwig, Bob Mintzer, Wayne Wallace, Ingrid Jensen, Tim Ries, Geoff Keezer, Scott Whitfield, Dave Pietro, Paul McKee, Wayne Bergeron, Terell Stafford, Steve Turre, and Wycliffe Gordon.

The Ensembles are composed of standard big band instrumentation of five trumpets, four or five trombones, five woodwinds, piano, bass, guitar, drums and miscellaneous percussion.

Music majors, non-music majors and students enrolled through the College of Extended Studies may participate in the Sac State Jazz Ensembles.

Placement in ensembles is by audition only.

Auditions for all jazz performing groups at Sacramento State will be held during the first day of class of each semester. The results from the audition are usually posted the following day. Sign-up sheets are posted on the Jazz Studies Bulletin Board (located outside the Music Recital Hall - across from M151) prior to the first week of classes.

What can I expect on auditions for the jazz ensembles?

HORN PLAYERS (non-jazz chairs):

The sole basis for placement in bands will be sight-reading. During the sight-reading audition, consideration will be given to time, feel, range, tone, intonation and aggressiveness. Several styles, such as swing, funk, ballad and Latin, may be used in the audition.

HORN PLAYERS (jazz chairs only):

Those students interested in playing a jazz chair in a band and/or playing in a jazz combo will go through the sight-reading audition first. After the sight-reading, students interested in improvisation will be asked to play changes at sight with a play-a-long recording.


Each student will be asked to read a variety of jazz literature as well as just playing time. In addition, each rhythm section player will be asked to solo over changes. Drummers should know all styles of drumming including, but not limited to, up-tempo and medium swing, jazz waltz, funk, shuffle, samba, etc.

The course number for Jazz Ensembles is MUSC 143J. There are two sections.

  • Section 1, Jazz Ensemble I, Meets on Tuesday & Thursday from 1:30-2:45 pm in the Music Recital Hall
  • Section 2, Jazz Ensemble II, Meets on Tuesday & Thursday from 4:00-5:20 pm in the Music Recital Hall

For more information please contact Steve Roach.

Listen to the Sacramento State Jazz Ensembles

Sacramento State 2016 Jazz Ensemble I
Boop Boo Be Doop Bill Holman 4:58
First Love Song Bob Brookmeyer 6:26
Eeyore Regan Brough 7:31

Sacramento State 2015 Jazz Ensemble I
Skittish Jim McNeely 10:57
Evangelon Regan Brough 9:16
Minor's Holiday Kenny Dorham 4:04

Sacramento State 2014 Jazz Ensemble I
Big Swing Face Bill Potts 6:14
Women's Dance Milcho Leviev/arr. by Levi Saelua 11:53
A Hymn for Her Fred Sturm 5:12
Contusion Stevie Wonder/arr. by Levi Saelua 7:03

Sacramento State 2013 Jazz Ensemble I
Soupbone John Clayton 6:39
The Very Best Of Times Gordon Goodwin 7:40
For Maria Bob Brookmeyer 6:08
Theme From Mr Broadway Dave Brubeck, arr. Joe Gilman 8:33
Little Dave J.J. Johnson 4:15

Sacramento State 2012 Jazz Ensemble I
Here's That Rainy Day Van Heusen & Burke/ arr. Chris Walden 7:26
Phase Dance Pat Metheney & Lyle Mays/arr. by Tim Weiss 8:01
It's You Or No One Cahn & Styne/ arr. by Rob Lussier 2:21
Transit Darcy James Argue 6:59

Sacramento State 2011 Jazz Ensemble I
Everything In It's Right Place Radiohead/ arr. James Miley 9:31
Fast Brazil Donny McCaslin/ arr. Matt Harris 6:52
M Donny McCaslin 7:22
Tacit Dance Kenny Garrett /arr. by Rob Lussier 5:11

Sacramento State 2010 Jazz Ensemble I
Sweet Time Suite:
     Part I & II
Kenny Wheeler 10:52
Esta Noche Wayne Wallace 6:42

Sacramento State 2009 Jazz Ensemble I
Thought Trains Mike Holober 6:50
Indian Riffs arr Matt Catingub 6:18
Jump Down Spin Around arr Mike Holober 12:00

Sacramento State 2008 Jazz Ensemble I
Beautiful Love arr. Paul McKee 5:46
The Peacocks arr. Bill Holman 8:38
Juba by Dave Pietro 7:29

Sacramento State 2007 Jazz Ensemble I
You Must Believe in Spring arr. Vern Sielert 9:24
When You Go by Geoffrey Keezer 7:42
Giant Steps arr. George Stone 6:45