Fall 2020 Yale Jazz Initiative Jazz Combo Coaching Program

All combo activities for Fall 2020 will be virtual.  Meetings with coaches will be online. 

Fall 2020.  Program overview. Students will work on building their basic jazz repertoire and honing their fundamental skills of improvisation and ensemble playing. Combo participants should expect four to six performance assignments designed to foster their skill development in the following areas:

  • Groove and Feel
  • Playing in different time signatures
  • Playing at various tempos
  • Melody interpretation 
  • Knowledge of Jazz Repertoire 
  • Chord Scale Knowledge
  • Jazz Vocabulary 

Assignments should be submitted in the MP3 or MP4 format (decided by coach) using backing tracks provided by the combo coach. Virtual class time will be spent giving the students musical and technical guidance, as well as listening to the class assignments.

If you are interested in auditioning, please review these points.

1.  Combos are organized by semester and style content (see combo categories below).

2.  Musicians will be considered for participation in a combo by audition -– please list your preferred combo section when you submit your materials. 

3.  Combos are formed by the two coaches based on auditions.  You may submit an audition recording with other musicians; but you will be reviewed for your playing alone. 

4.  Each musician who would like to be considered for a combo must submit an audition recording (if several of you are applying and are already in a group, you may use the same recording). Please identify yourself in a group audition. 

5. Musicians may enroll in the combo coaching program for four semesters.  Enrollment will be an option beyond four semesters if there is space and with permission of coach(es). 

Individual instrumental/vocal auditions:

Your virtual audition must include your name, your instrument, and which area study combo group for which you are auditioning.

Prepare a video or audio recording performing three songs (15 minutes in total) demonstrating the ability to improvise over the following:

  1.  12 bar blues (any key)
  2.  Song from the standard literature, e.g. All the Things You AreThere Will Never Be Another YouConfirmationGroovin’ HighOrnithologyScrapple from the AppleCherokeeWoody N’ You, etc.
  3.  Any piece of your choosing

Audition Evaluation:

All auditions are primarily judged on the following criteria:

  • Knowledge of Jazz vocabulary
  • Rhythmic Feel
  • Technique
  • Ability to fulfill your specific role in the ensemble 
  • Musical maturity
  • Individual expression 

5.  Upload your audition recording electronically to this DROPBOX.

If you have any troubles with the dropbox upload, email  your materials or links to thomas.c.duffy@yale.edu

Audition deadline is 5:00 pm. Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. For each recording, please identify yourself, your instrument, and which section you would like to be considered for (see below).

6.  Combos meet with coaches six (6) times per semester.  In a usual year, combos play a final juried recital at the end of each semester. This year final virtual projects will be worked out with the coaches.

7.  Combo constituencies will be reviewed at the end of the semester.  Coaches will have discretion as to whether combos will continue intact or reform, whether musicians will be added or subtracted, and to what content style combos will be assigned.

Coaches: Wayne Escoffery, Jeff Fuller

Combos Sections: 

Swing & Standards Ensemble (Fall Semester)
Coach: Jeff Fuller 
The focus in this combo will be on music of the swing era and standards from the Great American Songbook.  Composers/arrangers and bands will include Duke Ellington, Count Basie and others; standards favored by jazz interpreters will include great composers like Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers and the like.  Students may create original compositions in similar styles.  Emphasis will be placed on melodic and stylistic interpretation, swing feel, groove, and improvisation.  4 - 6 performance assignments will be completed during the semester.

Jazz Legacy Ensemble (Fall and Spring Semesters)
Coach: Wayne Escoffery 
This combo is focused on exploring the music from 1945 through the early 1960s generally referred to as Bebop, Cool and Hard Bop. Through the music of musicians such as Charlie Parker, Bud Powel, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and others, students will work on building their basic Jazz repertoire and honing their fundamental skills of improvisation and ensemble playing. Combo participants should expect four to six performance assignments designed to foster their skill development in the following areas:

  • Groove and Feel
  • Playing in different time signatures
  • Playing at various tempos
  • Melody interpretation 
  • Knowledge of Jazz Repertoire 
  • Chord Scale Knowledge
  • Jazz Vocabulary 

Assignments should be submitted in the MP3 or MP4 format (decided by coach) using backing tracks provided by the combo coach. Virtual class time will be spent giving the students musical and technical guidance, as well as listening to the class assignments.

Modern Jazz Ensemble. (Fall and Spring Semesters)
Coach: Wayne Escoffery (both semesters)
In this combo students will focus on studying Jazz from the 1960s and onward that evolved from the harmonic and rhythmic influences of the Bebop and Hard Bop eras. Through the music of musicians such as Miles Davis, Jackie McLean, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Woody Shaw, Mulgrew Miller and others, students will work on building their Jazz repertoire from this era and honing their abilities for playing modally, over extended harmonies, odd meters and complex rhythms. Students are also encouraged to bring in original compositions. Combo participants should expect four to six performance assignments designed to foster their skill development in the following areas:

  • Groove and Feel
  • Playing in different time signatures
  • Playing at various tempos
  • Melody interpretation 
  • Knowledge of Jazz Repertoire 
  • Chord Scale Knowledge
  • Jazz Vocabulary 

Assignments should be submitted in the MP3 or MP4 format (decided by coach) using backing tracks provided by the combo coach. Virtual class time will be spent giving the students musical and technical guidance, as well as listening to the class assignments.

Latin Jazz and Beyond Ensemble. (Spring Semester)
Coach: Jeff Fuller 
This combo will explore the evolution and integration of Latin Jazz into the Jazz tradition, with discussion of the cultural interface between Latin and jazz musicians from the mid-20th century. A variety of compositions will be tailored to the group’s instrumental make-up and student abilities, and will be chosen from the classis works of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian composer/arrangers and from present-day innovators within the style. Students may create original compositions in similar styles.  Emphasis will be placed on melodic and stylistic interpretation, rhythmic feel, and improvisation. 4 - 6 performance assignments will be complete during the semester.