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Jazz Combos

Jazz Ensembles

All musicians with an interest in jazz are invited to audition for the jazz combo program. Participants receive some coaching from professional jazz players and have access to Department of Music rehearsal spaces, equipment (drums, amps, pianos, etc.) and music (Stanford Jazz Workshop sheet music and fakebooks). Combos perform at the end of each quarter. Some groups play gigs in the community (optional).

Interested in playing in a jazz combo?

Most combos form in Autumn Quarter which is a good time to get involved because there are open auditions and more options for new players or returning players looking for a group. Students are encouraged to audition in Autumn Quarter to play in Autumn, Winter or Spring Quarter.

Placement is at the discretion of the jazz combo faculty and is dependent on several factors including instrumental balance, the availability of suitably matched partners, coaching, and other resources. Often the greatest challenge is to match players who share a comparable level of experience and are also all available to rehearse at the same time when coaching is available. As many groups as possible will be included.

Those who are not able to match with a group or otherwise find a spot, may be able to join in later if space becomes available.

Playing music in a jazz combo can be one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling ways to grow musically and explore with others the artistic possibilities of creatively interactive music. With dedicated practice, over time we become better able to play what we hear and feel at the moment that we feel and hear it, and to express ourselves individually while supporting each other in the moment.

While playing jazz can be musically challenging, deeply engaging, and a lot of fun(!) there are a few responsibilities and requirements to consider before joining in. Playing in a combo is a team endeavor that requires all players to be present and engaged at every rehearsal so that the group and its individuals can achieve their highest potential.

Before getting involved with combo formation, everyone (including returning players) should read the syllabus to make sure the 2023-24 program works for you.

How to join a combo

In addition to reading the syllabus, everyone who wants to join a combo must fill out the Jazz Combo Participation Form (MUSIC 181). Filling out that form along with the information in the syllabus should give you a good sense of how the program works and what you need to do now to get involved.

To get full consideration, you must complete the form by Monday, September 25, 2023. Sooner is better, because you’ll have more time to prepare for an audition and/or to coordinate a rehearsal day if you are proposing to return as a pre-formed group.

If you miss the deadline, fill out the form, and also send an email to jazzline [at] (jazzline[at]stanford[dot]edu) alerting the faculty team so we will be aware to look for your information. We will try to include you if possible.

On the Jazz Combo Participation form you’ll find the following three paths into the program explained in greater detail.

  1. Autumn Quarter Auditions – required for new people and returning players who are looking for placement in a group, were not active in the program last spring, or want to be considered on a different instrument.
  2. Pre-formed group – a limited number of self-organizing returning players may be able to form a group. Instructions to propose a pre-formed group are on the Form. It’s different than in the past.
  3. Jazz Skills Combo – an entry level group offered only in Autumn Quarter. No audition necessary. This group meets weekly on Mondays, noon to 1pm.

Next steps: read the syllabus and complete the Jazz Combo Participation Form

Combo questions? Contact Jim Nadel: jazzline [at] (jazzline[at]stanford[dot]edu)

Other Jazz Ensembles contacts:

  • Jazz Orchestra (MUSIC 161B): Mike Galisatus, mgsjo55 [at] (mgsjo55[at]stanford[dot]edu)
  • Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (MUSIC 161E): Murray Low, murlow [at] (murlow[at]stanford[dot]edu)
  • Jazz Skills (MUSIC 181 section 2): Bob Murphy, murphjazz [at] (murphjazz[at]yahoo[dot]com)