Jazz @ Lawrence

Featuring a faculty of outstanding depth and breadth along with a robust array of courses and performance opportunities, Lawrence has one of the leading undergraduate jazz education programs in the nation. Whether you're interested in pursuing a career as a jazz artist or simply looking for an introduction to this demanding musical discipline, Lawrence can provide you with an unparalleled experience.

In September of 2019, the Lawrence Jazz Department introduced their new Bachelor of Musical Arts Degree in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation, which allows students interested in jazz and contemporary improvisational music the great flexibilty to explore and develop their own unique musical path. More information about this new degree and how to apply can be found here.

In addition, Lawrence offers a Bachelor of Music Degree with a Jazz Emphasis and a broad range of jazz ensembles, courses, and private instruction. Long recognized among the finest undergraduate jazz ensemble in the country, the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE) has been cited four times as the winner or outstanding U.S. collegiate jazz group in the "Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards", including the Lawrence Jazz Band and the Jazz Workshop Ensemble round out the large jazz ensemble experience.

6-8 Lawrence Jazz Small Groups meet twice weekly throughout the school year in “jazz performance classrooms.” Working combos of 5-8 students study small group performance practice and improvisation in sessions that thoughtfully link theory and practice, emphasize jazz repertoire and explore contemporary improvisational concepts. IGLU (Improvisation Group of Lawrence University) is an ensemble dedicated to improvising in various styles including rock, 20th century classical, Arabic Taqasim, klezmer, jazz, electronic and Korean Sinawi music to name a few. The large ensembles, small groups, IGLU and an intense sequence of jazz composition and arranging courses are closely integrated, allowing for frequent performances and recordings of student works. Lawrence jazz students have won numerous Downbeat Magazine “Student Music Awards"  in the instrumental soloist, original composition, arranging and recording categories.

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble was named the "Undergraduate College Winner" in Downbeat's 2019 Student Music Award's large jazz ensemble category for a second year in a row, winning as the top large ensemble in 2018 as well. In 2018, seniors Jake Victor and Jack Kilkelly-Schmidt  (in the Jake Victor 5TET ensemble) also took top honors in the undergraduate college category for their small jazz combo project “Twisted Heads", which they recorded while studying abroad at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.  This is the fifth year in a row that Lawrence students have been the recipients of these prestigious honors.

In 2017, senior Sam Genualdi received the "Outstanding Original Composition" award for his piece "Treelight", and senior Tim Carrigg earned national recognition from DownBeat as the 2016 "Undergraduate Winner" for "Namaste", an original composition for large ensemble.  It was the second year in a row Carrigg has been honored by DownBeat.  In 2015, he won the undergraduate jazz arrangement category for his large ensemble chart “Once Upon a Time.”

Tambo Toké, Lawrence’s Afro-Cuban percussion group, was cited for an Outstanding Performance award in the college undergraduate Latin Jazz Ensemble category as well.  Lawrence has been recognized 30 times since DownBeat launched its student music awards competition in 1978.

READ MORE about Lawrence's Downbeat award recipients:


Visiting Artists

  • Vocalists Lizz Wright, Jackie Allen, Theo Bleckman, Cyrille Aimée, Eliane Elias, Kurt Elling, Jon Hendricks, Diana Krall, Carolyn Leonhart, Kevin Mahogany, Kate McGarry, Bobby McFerrin, Jane Monheit, Gretchen Parlato, Dianne Reeves, Marlena Shaw, Janis Siegel, Luciana Souza, Tierney Sutton, Steve March Tormé, and Cassandra Wilson
  • Saxophonists Michael Brecker, Wayne Escoffery, Joel Frahm, Kenny Garrett, Benny Golson, Joe Lovano, Branford Marsalis, Donny McCaslin, Gerry Mulligan, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Wayne Shorter, Tim Garland and Phil Woods
  • Trumpeters Terence Blanchard, Dave Douglas, Dizzy Gillespie, Tim Hagans, Roy Hargrove, Clay Jenkins, Ingrid Jensen, Brian Lynch, Wynton Marsalis, Ambrose Akinmusire, Jeremy Pelt, Terrell Stafford, Clark Terry, and Kenny Wheeler
  • Trombonists Bob Brookmeyer, Robin Eubanks, Alan Ferber, Wycliffe Gordon, Slide Hampton, Conrad Herwig, J.J. Johnson, Delfeayo Marsalis and Jim Pugh
  • Guitarists John Abercrombie, Bill Frisell, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel and John Scofield
  • Vibes Joe Locke
  • Pianists Vijay Iyer, Uri Caine, Bill Carrothers, Gerald Clayton, Chick Corea, Eliane Elias, Matt Harris, Fred Hersch, Ahmad Jamal, Lars Jansson, Geoffrey Keezer, Lyle Mays, Jon Cowherd, John Medeski, Brad Mehldau, Danilo Perez, Marcus Roberts, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and McCoy Tyner   
  • Bassists John Clayton, Jr., Scott Colley, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson, Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Rufus Reid, Ike Sturm, Steve Swallow, and Eberhard Weber
  • Drummers Brian Blade, Jonathan Blake, Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Zach Harmon, Dave King, Billy Kilson, Bill Stewart, Terry Lyne Carrington and Matt Wilson
  • Composers Bob Brookmeyer, Uri Caine, Alan Ferber, Benny Golson, Matt Harris, Lars Jansson, Gunther Schuller, Maria Schneider, and Wayne Shorter
  • Ensembles The Bad Plus, Branford Marsalis Quartet, Chris Potter Underground, Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts, Terence Blanchard Quintet, Mingus Big Band, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Chick Corea Elektric Band, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, New York Voices, Dave Holland Quintet, Phil Woods Quintet, Bill Frisell Trio, The Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny Unity Group, Robert Glasper Experience, The Clayton Brothers, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Freshman Studies - “All Blues”

Faculty Jazz Quartet featuring Tim Albright

Faculty Jazz Quartet - “Fables of Faubus”

Faculty Jazz Quartet

The Minneapolis Gig

The Chicago Gig