Frequently Asked Questions

The Yale Jazz Ensemble

Veterans of performances at New York City’s Village Vanguard and Iridium Jazz Club, Ronnie Scott’s of London, and the Villanova and Williams Jazz Festivals, the Yale Jazz Ensemble is a standard big band made up of 18 musicians (5 saxes, 5 trombones, 5 trumpets, piano, guitar, bass, drums). The group presents 2-4 formal concerts a year but plays any number of other engagements on or off-campus.

What kind of time commitment is involved?

The Yale Jazz Ensemble rehearses two hours per week (Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m.). The ensemble performs two concerts per year at Yale’s Sprague Hall and performs a few other off- and on-campus concerts. The Yale Bands as a whole also sponsors a variety of extramusical social events at which all Jazz Ensemble members are welcome.

What type of music does the YJE play?

The Yale Jazz Ensemble plays almost anything composed for big band, although it does specialize in the charts that swing the most. The repertoire for a standard concert might include an early Duke Ellington chart, a Thad Jones/Mel Lewis piece, newer music by Gordon Goodwin, a big-band jazz standard, a funk-fusion chart, and/or a novelty chart. The group also aggressively programs pieces by its members!

Who is the director of the YJE?

Thomas C. Duffy directs the Yale Jazz Ensemble.

What else does the Yale jazz scene have to offer?

Academic offerings:

  • The School of Music offers a course in jazz improvisation, taught by Grammy-award winning saxophonist Wayne Escoffery.
  • Jazz combos may audition to be assigned a chamber music coach. See course offerings in the School of Music.

Some say there is a student organization for every student at Yale, and it’s usually difficult to find a weekend without some type of musical performance. There are many different smaller jazz groups at Yale, ranging in specialties from standards to funk to free jazz, some of which have members in the YJE, and some of which do not. (See Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective). Yale also hosts concerts by professional musicians throughout the year: the Ellington Jazz Series brings to campus the most time-honored and most innovative jazz artists.

How do I get involved in the Yale Jazz Ensemble?

The Yale Bands Information meeting will be held Monday, August 26, 2019, from 6:30 to 7:30 PM in Room 301 Hendrie Hall in the Adams Center for Musical Arts, 165 Elm St. At this meeting, you can get more information about the YJE, meet current YJE members, and sign up for audition slots. We hope to see you there!

How can I learn more about the YJE?

Contact Stephanie Hubbard, the Yale Bands manager, via email at or by phone at (203) 432-4111; or Thomas C. Duffy, music director, by email at