jazz ensembles


Welcome to the Thompson Jazz Studies Program at the University of Colorado Boulder College of Music!

Enrollment + audition info

CU Boulder jazz ensembles offer students exposure to a variety of jazz styles through the rehearsal and performance of classic literature as well as the most current writing for jazz ensemble. The Concert Jazz Ensemble was recognized in DownBeat’s 2014 Student Music Awards as one of the nation’s outstanding big bands and—in 2015—was invited to perform at the “Next Generation Festival” in Monterey, California. Our jazz ensembles take pride in performing arrangements and original compositions by CU Boulder students and faculty.


CU Boulder Vocal Jazz Ensemble

This ensemble is open to both music majors and non-music majors, and comprises the study and performance of various jazz styles—including swing, Latin jazz, a cappella and contemporary arrangements of new jazz standards and reharmonized pop tunes. This course further serves as an investigation of the challenges of music making in a select ensemble setting with microphones, improvisation, guest instrumentalists and soloists.

Concert Jazz Ensemble

The Concert Jazz Ensemble, the Thompson Jazz Studies Program’s premier ensemble, performs music from the rich legacy of big band music—from its early swing days to music by contemporary innovators.

Jazz Ensemble II

Jazz Ensemble II comprises both jazz and non-jazz majors who perform a wide selection of repertoire for big band. Students develop their mastery of styles, ensemble playing and improvisation.

Jazz Ensemble III

Jazz Ensemble III comprises College of Music students focused on both performance and music education. Students explore concepts of jazz pedagogy related to ensemble performance and improvisation while developing their skills in different jazz styles.

Thompson Latin Jazz Ensemble

The Thompson Latin Jazz Ensemble studies music from the Caribbean and South America and its integration and ties with jazz. Traditional and contemporary forms of Latin music are surveyed, including Afro jazz, Afro-Cuban, danzón, salsa, calypso and cha-cha-chá—as well as Brazilian forms, such as samba and baião.

Jazz Combos

Jazz combos are organized to develop improvisational skills in a small group setting and to study significant periods, styles and artists in jazz history. Combo members are also encouraged to develop their own arranging and composing skills, and to use the combos as a vehicle for their own creative efforts. One of our combos was recently recognized in DownBeat’s 2016 Student Music Awards as one of the nation’s outstanding small jazz ensembles.


John Gunther
Director, Thompson Jazz Studies Program

Bijoux Barbosa
Instructor, Jazz Studies

Paul Falk
Director, Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Brad Goode
Associate Professor of Jazz Studies

Jeff Jenkins
Instructor, Jazz Studies

Paul McKee
Associate Professor of Jazz Studies

Paul Romaine
Instructor, Jazz Studies