Fall 2019 Auditions for Jazz Ensembles and Combos! Wednesday-Friday, August 28-30

Auditions for combos and big bands for the Fall 2019 semester will be held Wednesday, August 28 through Friday, August 30. All university jazz ensembles and combos are open to any student regardless of major. The ensembles encompass all levels of ability from quite experienced to novice performers.

Students may sign up for an audition time on the sign-up sheets on the bulletin board outside of MRH 6.248. Preferred audition dates are as follows:

Saxophones: Wednesday, August 28
Trumpets: Thursday, August 29
Trombones: Friday, August 30

Rhythm section players should attend the rhythm section auditions on Thursday, August 29 3:30 – 5 pm if at all possible. If you cannot make it to audition on the day specified for your instrument, go ahead and sign up for a time on an earlier or later day.

Auditions are low-pressure, and consist of the following activities:

An optional prepared transcribed solo, etude, or jazz ensemble part
Sight-reading in various jazz styles
Optional improvisation over blues or a standard chord progression of your choosing (pianist provided, or you may play with a play-along CD)
Rhythm Section
Rhythm section players audition in sections and play one blues or standard jazz selection to demonstrate improvisational and comping, walking, or timekeeping abilities. If your repertoire is limited, a fake book or lead sheet is recommended.

Guitar Players: Knowledge of jazz comping style and voicings and jazz improvisational style are required to be placed in a jazz ensemble.

If the jazz faculty feels your improvisational abilities are not advanced enough to participate in a jazz ensemble, we may request that you take Beginning Jazz Improvisation (MUS 218J) before joining a combo in a subsequent semester.

All students interested in a jazz combo must audition and then attend the organizational meeting, to be held on Tuesday, September 3 at 7 pm in MRH 6.248.

We look forward to hearing you!

AIME at The Elephant Room, Sunday 5/12!

Sunday night, 5/12!
AIME performs at the Elephant Room 9:30pm-1:30am.


AIME, the 2018 Graduate Student Jazz Combo Downbeat Student Recording Award winner, is a select jazz ensemble of six to ten members performing unique repertoire that encompasses a wide variety of styles. Emphasizing extended improvisation, members of the ensemble compose the music specifically for the group’s instrumentation. Recent projects include the “Jazz at the Blanton” concert series, where UT jazz composers create music for AIME based on exhibits at the Blanton Museum of Art, and regular appearances at the Elephant Room jazz club.

AIME horn players perform at Blanton museum of art

Video: UT Jazz Composers – Paulo Santos and Ben Zeff

Composers Paulo Santos and Ben Zeff talk with Director of Jazz Studies, Jeff Hellmer, about their recent works. Interviews followed by the University of Texas Jazz Orchestra concert premiers.



Video: UT Jazz Composers – Thomas Wenglinski, “Clear Visions”

Check out this great interview with pianist/composer (and 2019 winner of the Stribling Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Jazz Studies), Thomas Wenglinski. He talks about his recent jazz orchestra work, Clear Visions.

The interview, hosted by Director of Jazz Studies, Jeff Hellmer, is followed by the premiere of Clear Visions but the UT Jazz Orchestra.

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Video: UT Jazz Composers – Interview with Dr. John Mills and Round Table Discussion

Interview with composer, Dr. John Mills, and the UT Jazz Orchestra premier of his new work, “Equilibrium”.

Dr. Mills is Professor of Jazz Composition and Jazz Saxophone at the University of Texas at Austin. Moderated by Director of Jazz Studies, Prof. Jeff Hellmer.

UT Jazz Composers – Round Table Discussion

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Professor John Mills Receives Austin Jazz Society Hall of Fame Award

Professor of Jazz Composition and Jazz Saxophone, Dr. John Mills, has been inducted into the Austin Jazz Society Hall of Fame 2019. He joins fellow Austin jazz greats including Dr. James Polk and Kenny Dorham. This year’s other inductees include Michael Mordecai and Lefalco “Corkey” Robinson.

Dr. John Mills receives AJS honor

Upcoming Concert: “John Mills Plays the Poetry of Cornelius Eady”

We have a very special concert coming up this Sunday, April 14th, 7pm at Recital Studio MRH 2.608:

Professor John Mills presents a concert of original music in collaboration with acclaimed poet, Cornelius Eady.

I’d like you to know that I’m celebrating the completion of a special Jazz+Poetry collaboration with the Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet/playwright Cornelius Eady. He has collected 13 poems, many jazz-themed, for which I’ve composed settings specific to the mood of each. It’s been wonderful, living with these brilliant poems in the recording studio, and now the CD project is mixed and mastered. Cornelius and I will perform it all live, thanks the supporting talents of UT Jazz faculty and alumni, as well as the COFA Doty Fellowship that first got the project rolling.

I hope that you can join us this Sunday, April 14, at 7pm in the Recital Studio.

– Dr. John Mills


Dr. John Mills playing tenor sax, profile Poet, Cornelius Eady, headshot


AIME Ensemble Live Videos – “Training Wheels” and “Upshot”

AIME Ensemble performs original compositions by band members Matt Maldonado and Cameron Riggs.

Coming Up: The University of Texas Jazz Orchestra with Joe Lovano! 4/13/19

portrait of saxophonist Joe LovanoSaturday 4/13/19 – the University of Texas Jazz Orchestra will present a concert guest artist and internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano. The program includes premiers of student and faculty compositions and arrangements.

Tickets here: UT Jazz Orchestra with Joe Lovano

Directed by Professor Jeff Hellmer, the UT Jazz Orchestra is the Butler School of Music’s premier jazz ensemble. In recent years, the Jazz Orchestra has performed with such luminaries as Michael Brecker, Maria Schneider, Stefon Harris, Joshua Redman, Cyrus Chestnut, and Conrad Herwig.

After 30 albums as a leader and at least 25 years in the spotlight, it’s clear Joe Lovano is more than a dominant figure in jazz. He’s jazz’s answer to George Clooney or Jeff Bridges, a vibrant player who delivers an award-worthy performance every time out.” – Wall Street Journal

Grammy-winning saxophonist, composer, and producer Joe Lovano joins the UT Jazz Orchestra as part of the Butler School of Music’s annual Longhorn Jazz Festival.

Joe Lovano’s impressive career has found him touring with jazz greats such as the Woody Herman Thundering Herd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, McCoy Tyner, John Scofield, and Jack DeJohnette. Lovano has also created a body of work for his own large ensembles including strings, woodwinds, his horn-rich Nonet, and more recently, his newest iteration of the classic quartet.

Upcoming Lecture April 4: Jazz Scholar, Prof. Kimberly Hannon-Teal

Mark your calendars for this upcoming talk with visiting jazz scholar, Dr. Kimberly Hannon-Teal (University of Arkansas). Hosted by Prof. Charles Carson and the Center for American Music.

Thursday 4/4. 5pm @ Recital Studio MRH 2.608

Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn - photograph“Hearing Collaboration: Individual and Collective Voices of the Duke Ellington Orchestra”

In order to strengthen perceptions of jazz as high art, early jazz criticism, and later the young field of jazz studies, often presented Duke Ellington as a remarkably strong individual composer by drawing parallels between him and canonical composers of Western art music. While this narrative served an important twentieth-century purpose in celebrating his art in particular and the broader arenas of jazz and African American music in a cultural environment that often positioned such music as primitive, unrefined, or overly commercial, it bears revisiting in a twenty-first-century context, especially as it does not easily account for Ellington’s well documented practice of collaborative composition. This study explores what Ellington’s music can teach us about community, collaboration, loss, and healing through close readings of works as performed before and after the deaths of featured Ellington Orchestra members, drawing on multiple recordings of various solos in reference to the soloists’ written part books to tease out the relationship between Ellington’s written and sounding music. A series of vignettes examining the “voices” of Joe Nanton, Jimmy Blanton, and Johnny Hodges delineates a number of techniques for navigating death and remembrance based largely in the manipulation of instrumental timbre. These strategies range from a careful emulation of deceased performers to the opposing approach of highlighting a missing musician’s absence through direct contrast, ultimately showing how diverse voices defined the Ellington Orchestra’s sound. Informed by Stanyek and Piekut’s (2010) theorization of the intermundane in posthumous duets like Nat and Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable, this study highlights overlapping labors and identities of living and dead musicians in the Ellington Orchestra in order to reframe their music and creative processes, looking away from the isolated pedestal of the individual composer toward a view that includes a network of collaboration and community.