Jazz Vocal Ensembles

Barrington Coleman, director
Jazz Vocal Ensemble (MUSC 497), MW 3:00-4:50 PM
Jazz Vocal Combo 1 (MUSC 198), MW 1-1:50 PM
Jazz Vocal Combo 2 (MUSC 198), MW 2-2:50 PM
All meet in 0061A Music Building (The Recording Studio)

Since its inception, Jazz at Illinois has consistently supported and fostered the study of jazz singing, both solo and group. Each year a select group of majors, both undergraduate and graduate, come to Illinois to pursue their passion for jazz singing, and some of them now head major jazz voice departments. We also draw from the university community at large, and non-majors are always encouraged to audition. The Jazz Vocal Ensemble consists of singers with a full, four-piece rhythm section, and explores the wide range of jazz vocal literature, from the Hi-Los and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, to Take Six and The Harlem Voices and much more. At the same time, solo singing, improvisation/scatting is encouraged and developed. The two smaller Jazz Vocal Combos give the opportunity for one to two singers to work with a rhythm section in rehearsal and performance over the course of the semester. Of course development of each singer’s sound and musical “voice” is combined with musicianship and connection with jazz history.  As with all our jazz ensembles, each group performs at least three times per semester, including Krannert Center near semester’s end.

Jazz Vocal Ensemble, Combo, and Big Band soloist experiences for singers – Audition Materials

Objective and purpose: To thoroughly explore, enrich, and cultivate the legacy of jazz and improvisational vocal ensemble music-making through the examination, study, and performance of music which spans the spectrum of innovation.

Required song selections: Two jazz standards in contrasting styles

  • One medium –or- fast tempo swing piece, such as "All of me," by Seymour Simons / Gerald Marks or "All the things you are," by Jerome Kern.
  • One ballad such as "Someone to watch over me," by George Gershwin or "When I fall in love," by Victor Young.
  • And an optional free improvisation on blues progressions.

Such material may be drawn from the Great American Standard Songbook tradition.

Please provide charts of your song selections in your preferred keys.

Source material may be found in hard copy or online access to the Real Book collection of lead sheets. Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long audition tracks may also be used for your live audition session.

Aural skills & sight-singing review; Brief excerpts of songs will be extracted to evaluate your skill set, in addition to examples of melodies that you will be requested to sing by rote or aural recall.

Singers will be assigned opportunities to perform with Jazz Vocal Ensemble, Combo, and / or Big Band based on recommendations from Dr.Coleman and graduate teaching assistant[s].