image of jazz combo with vocalist in recital hall

Jazz Studies

Furman’s Jazz Studies program is proud to offer a wide variety of courses and performing ensembles that focus on all styles of jazz and the art of improvisation. The Furman Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Matt Olson, performs traditional and contemporary big band literature, entertaining groups with concerts on campus and throughout the Upstate. Smaller jazz combos are an important part of that jazz experience. Their focus is on small-group jazz performance and the art of jazz improvisation for a wide variety of instrumentation including jazz vocals.  The combos perform for a variety of functions, from formal Furman galas to lunch time in the Trone University Center. The groups are open to all Furman students regardless of major or instrument. Placement auditions are held at the start of the school year.  No prior jazz experience needed!

Our jazz students can be found in multiple local venues performing alongside their teachers and regional professional musicians. In addition to the extensive interaction we have with the local jazz scene, the Jazz Studies program brings several world-class guest artists to campus each year to perform and work with our students.

Recent artists include:

Fall Placement Information

Jazz Ensemble and Combo 2021 Auditions

Our jazz auditions are designed to be a low-key way for us to accurately assess your experience level as a jazz musician. Even if you have had LITTLE or NO experience in jazz, please feel free to audition. We will do our very best to include everyone we can in our program! Our combos are open to students whose interest is in any sort of contemporary music – jazz, rock, and beyond – so please do audition for us!

We are returning to in-person auditions this year. All of the details are below. Copies of any required music are available electronically on Furman’s Music Department website. If you cannot locate the required music or have ANY QUESTIONS about the auditions, please email Dr. Matt Olson at Matt.Olson@furman.edu.

Audition Requirements

Horn Players (and any non-traditional jazz instrumentalists (flute, violin….)

Horn auditions will occur in Dr. Matt Olson’s office (McAlister Auditorium 207) between 2:30- 3:45 PM on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, August 25-27, 2021. Sign up for a time on Doodle using this link:

https://doodle.com/poll/4s7fpppgk36un6y6?utm_source=poll&utm_medium=link

Please play something of your choosing, preferably something from the jazz idiom…a jazz etude, solo transcription, the melody to a jazz song, or something similar. If you don’t have anything, feel free to play something non-jazz so we can hear you play your instrument. Or, email Dr. Olson at Matt.Olson@furman.edu to ask for a suggestion of something to play. If you are comfortable doing so (not required), please improvise over a jazz tune like a blues, preferably with a backing track of some sort. We will ask you to sight-read a short selection as well.

Rhythm Section (Piano, guitar, bass, and drums)

Rhythm section audition will occur in the Daniel Music Building Room D13 (“band room”) between 7:00- 8:30 PM on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. Sign up for a time on Doodle using this link:

https://doodle.com/poll/pacdk4b3gn8m7r2i?utm_source=poll&utm_medium=link

Piano and Guitar

Select a song of your choice to perform for us. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a traditional jazz song. Show us what you do! Be sure to play both the melody and the chords of the song. If you are comfortable doing so (not required), please improvise over a jazz tune like a blues, preferably with a backing track of some sort. If you need suggestions – email Professor Matt Dingledine at Matt.Dingledine@furman.edu.

Bass

Select a song of your choice to perform for us. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a traditional jazz song. Show us what you do! We do want to hear you function as a bass player too, so please play a bass line or two for us, preferably something swing with a walking bass line and something Latin like a bossa nova. If you are comfortable doing so (not required), please improvise over a jazz tune like a blues, preferably with a backing track of some sort. If you need suggestions – email Professor Matt Dingledine at Matt.Dingledine@furman.edu.

Drums

Please demonstrate your ability to play as many of these grooves that you can (it’s ok if you don’t know some of these…play what you know):

  • Medium swing
  • Bossa Nova
  • Samba
  • Jazz Ballad (please use brushes here)
  • Rock
  • Your favorite groove!

We want to gain a sense of your time feel and versatility.

General Information

Audition results will be emailed to each student who auditioned by Monday, August 30.

The Furman Jazz Ensemble will rehearse each Monday and Thursday from 3:00-4:15 PM.

The Furman Jazz Combos will rehearse twice each week for 60 minutes, once with a faculty coach. Times will be determined once the ensembles are formed.

Our performance schedule is still being finalized.

Jazz Faculty