“…one of the best college bands I’ve heard!!”
-Wynton Marsalis, referring to our Jazz Ensemble “A” band

Our jazz ensembles and combos provide students at ECU with the chance to frequently perform both jazz standards and contemporary jazz compositions. Touring and participation in our yearly Billy Taylor Jazz Festival concerts are other ways our ensemble-playing students stay fully immersed in jazz studies at ECU. Check out our jazz groups below for more information.

Jazz Ensemble “A”

The award-winning East Carolina University Jazz Ensemble “A” (ECUJE) is the select touring group of the East Carolina University School of Music Jazz Studies Program. The ensemble has earned international recognition as one of the premiere university jazz ensembles from the state of North Carolina. Down Beat Magazine selected ECUJE from a nation-wide university jazz program audition to present premiere performances at Carnegie Hall, the famous Birdland Jazz Club in New York City and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. With additional performances at the 1996 Montreux, Switzerland Jazz Festival; International Association of Jazz Educators Conference in Anaheim, California; Southeast Regional MENC Conventions in Savannah, Georgia and Louisville, Kentucky; NCMEA Annual Convention in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and an abundance of other concerts and appearances, including the NBC Network’s “Jay Leno Show,” the ensemble has delighted audiences with “pinpoint pacing” and “fluid swingability.” Standing ovations have become an accustomed response by audiences witnessing the ECUJE deliver diverse programs that always include Be-Bop Era standards, traditional classics of the Big Band/Swing Era, and new, different, contemporary, and original compositions of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. ECUJE was the recipient of the Jazz Fest USA 1997 Gold Award, sponsored by Down Beat Magazine, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and Universal Studios Florida. ECUJE “Jazz Directions 1-1993” compact disc was awarded three stars in the October 1994 issue of Down Beat Magazine, which also stated that the compact disc was “a showcase for the ensemble with a sharply honed Basie cum-bop approach to big-band swing.” The second compact disc “Jazz Directions 2-1997” features the ensemble in live performances with special guest artists Bob Mintzer, (1998/99 Robert L. Jones Distinguished Professor of Music) and Vanessa Rubin. The ECUJE helps organize and also serves as the host and clinic group for the annual ECU School of Music Spring Jazz Festival, which is a two or three-day series of jazz workshops, clinics, and discussions culminating with a gala jazz concert featuring the ensemble with visiting guest jazz artists. In recent years, ECUJE has appeared in concert and workshop/clinic sessions with renowned jazz artists: Dr. Billy Taylor, Branford Marsalis, Bobby Watson, Bob Mintzer, Jimmy Haslip, Russell Ferrante, William Kennedy, Peter Erskine, Yellow Jackets, Benny Green, Marcus Roberts, Houston Person, Etta Jones, Maynard Furgeson, Rufus Reid, William “Keter” Betts, Ethel Ennis, Victor Lewis, Dave Valentine, Mulgrew Miller, Christian McBride, Grady Tate, Vanessa Rubin, Maceo Parker, Melton Mustafa, Leonard “Doc” Gibbs, Kevin Toney, Land Richards, Jiggs Whigham, Roger “Buck” Hill, John Fedchock, Dave Yarborough, Dr. Willie L, Hill, and Wynton Marsalis.

Chamber Jazz Ensembles

The chamber ensembles (5-7 students) familiarize students with jazz performance in a small group setting. Ensembles perform compositions of all various styles, ranging from Louis Armstrong to Stevie Wonder, as well as student composed works. Groups usually consist of one to three horn players and vocal with rhythm section (piano, guitar, vibes, bass and drums) and are selected by audition. Each group performs regularly in a monthly performance which showcases both students and jazz faculty.

Jazz Ensemble “B”

This ensemble is a performing lab band.