2017 Performers

Alma College Percussion Ensemble

Director: David Zerbe

The Alma College Percussion Ensemble, founded in 1989 by David Zerbe, is a multi-faceted performance ensemble. The group performs traditional chamber music as well as world music, jazz, and steel drum music. Recent appearances include main stage performances at the 2006- 2016, 48th - 58th Annual Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival; 2004-2005 and 2008-2009 Ford Detroit International Jazz Festivals; sharing the stage with Chick Corea and Hank Jones for the opening concert in the 2009 Parade the Circle at the Cleveland Museum of Art; the 2007 Port Townsend (Wash.) Jazz Festival; the 2007 Michigan Music Conference at DeVos Hall, Grand Rapids; 2006 Rhythm Outreach Chicago; the 2004 Great Events Series at Michigan Technological University; and with the Alma Choirs at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, the Detroit Opera House, and the Midland Center for the Arts. While on tour with the Alma College Concert Band, the ensemble has performed concerts in Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, Orlando, and throughout Michigan. Percussion studio members have also been featured performing Orff’s Carmina Burana and Shchedrins’s Carmen with the Alma Symphony Orchestra. Recent graduates have performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Grand Rapids Symphony, as well as many regional orchestras.

Current members of the ensemble are in demand throughout the state as private instructors, and percussion ensemble and marching percussion coaches. In addition, the percussion ensemble co-hosts the Alma College/Hohner Institute of Percussion “Summer Percussion Workshop” in affiliation with Yamaha Corporation of America’s “Sounds of Summer Camps.” This comprehensive two-week hands-on workshop provides participants with a broad experience in instrument percussion performance and clinics from master percussionists.

The band personnel is: David Zerbe (director), Dave Fair (assistant director), Drew Belanger, Molly Bosek, Jordan Campbell, Anna Dobyns, Shanley Dorn, Jeremy Fieber, Brianna Fitzpatrick, James Gaddy, Brianne Giddis, Dane Grimes, Jacob Holt, Aubree Hooper, Sara Jacobs, Jill Kemper, Aaron Krause, Daniel Lynch, Rachel Nemeth, Logan St. John, Zavien Stickler, Mollie Strunk, and Ivy Vanpoppelen.

Columbia College Fusion Ensemble

Director: Bill Boris

The Columbia College Fusion Ensemble has appeared at the Notre Dame and Elmhurst Jazz Festivals over the past 5 years receiving many Outstanding Soloist awards and Division 1 scores. The group has performed at the Jazz Showcase with Stephon Harris, Wycliffe Gordon and Dave Douglas. The ensemble was invited to perform at the 2017 Jazz Education Network in New Orleans featuring Wycliffe Gordon. The ensemble represents the Columbia College Music department’s focus on contemporary music and features student compositions.

Roosevelt University Large Jazz Ensemble

Director: Marshall Vente

The current edition of the LJE is a non-standard big band with 3 trumpets, trombone, French Horn (or Flugelhorn), Tuba; 3 saxes; piano, bass, drums guitar; and vocalist.

Pianist, composer, arranger, Marshall Vente began as conductor in 2014 and has provided new custom arrangements for the ensemble, focusing on the landmark compositions of modern jazz. This includes the work of composers Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, Thad Jones, Roland Kirk, Billy Harper, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Betty Carter, Herbie Hancock, Billy Strayhorn and many others. Also, Brazilian composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Edu Lobo, Milton Nascimento and Hermeto Pascoal are also featured. 

The ensemble recently performed and recorded a new score of all four movements of John Coltrane’s masterpiece A Love Supreme featuring quest saxophonist Brian Gephart. 

Other arrangers for the ensemble include the work of David Matthews and Gil Evans, both of whom were Marshall’s mentors under two consecutive Jazz Apprentice Grants awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts in the 1980’s. 

The ensemble performs every semester at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, and at collegiate jazz festivals including Notre Dame, Elmhurst and the National Jazz Educator’s Network Conference.

University of Alabama Jazz Ensemble

Director: Christopher Kozak

The University of Alabama Jazz Ensemble, directed by Christopher Kozak provides a professional atmosphere for students interested in the many aspects of jazz. This award winning group has performed at numerous jazz festivals, including: Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, Mobile Jazz Festival, Wichita Jazz Festival to name a few and performs throughout the region in schools and conferences. Its repertoire covers musical styles from the 1940s to contemporary arrangements, including those written and arranged by students. The ensemble has also performed in France and the Carribean. Some of the excellent guests and clinicians of our Jazz Program have included Donny McCaslin, Dave Douglas, Jeff Coffin, Matt Wilson, Randy Brecker, Dizzy Gillespie, Rick Margitza, Gene Bertoncini, Jamey Aebersold, Jerry Tachoir, Birch Johnson, Gunther Schuller, Ken Watters, Cleveland Eaton, the Lincoln Center Sextet and Jimmy Walker. This group is the nucleus for the Hilaritas Holiday Studio Orchestra. The Jazz Ensemble is open by audition to any student, regardless of major. 

University of Illinois Jazz Combo 1

Director: Tito Carrillo

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Jazz Studies Division boasts 8 jazz combos, and 18 large and small jazz ensembles total.  Each jazz combo is coached by one of our 7 esteemed jazz faculty, which include jazz coordinator and jazz saxophone professor Chip McNeill and jazz trombone professor Jim Pugh.  In the past, UIUC jazz groups have been recognized with awards at numerous jazz festivals, including first place for the UIUC Jazz Combo I at the University of North Texas Jazz Festival, in addition to conference performances and Downbeat award recognition.  The UIUC Jazz Combo I, led by professor of jazz trumpet Tito Carrillo, performs a wide palette of styles within the jazz idiom, and original student compositions and arrangements are strongly encouraged. The band personnel is Justin Copeland (trumpet), Andrew Lautenbach (tenor saxophone), Cesar Mendoza (trombone), Whitney Ashe (piano), Andrey Gonçalves (bass), and Frank Kurtz (drums).

University of Illinois Latin Jazz Ensemble

Director: Tito Carrillo

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Jazz Studies Division boasts 5 large jazz ensembles, and 18 jazz ensembles total.  The esteemed jazz faculty direct three of the large ensembles, with jazz coordinator and jazz saxophone professor Chip McNeill directing the UIUC Concert Jazz Band, jazz trombone professor Jim Pugh directing UIUC Jazz Band II, and professor of jazz trumpet Tito Carrillo directing the UIUC Latin Jazz Ensemble.  In the past, UIUC jazz groups have been recognized with awards at numerous jazz festivals and conference presentations, including a featured performance by the UIUC Latin Jazz Ensemble at the final International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) conference in Toronto, Canada.  The University of Illinois Latin Jazz Ensemble performs a wide palette of Afro-Latin styles with a focus both on authenticity of style and fostering creativity within the ensemble, and original student compositions and arrangements are strongly encouraged.  

The band personnel is:  Saxophones- Jordan VanHemert (alto), Ben Nichols (tenor), and Zach Schmitt, (baritone) Trumpets- Donny Albrecht (lead) Barkey Bryant, Justin Copeland, Jacob Mehlman, Trombones- David Fletcher (lead), Cesar Mendoza, Sean Durkin (bass), Rhythm- Vance Bollinger (piano), Paul Mock (guitar), Jonathan Small (bass), Tyler Shields (drums)  Latin percussion- Rich Daniels, Nik Erickson, Luisa Ruge-Jones  Vocalist- Luisa Ruge-Jones.

University of Notre Dame Jazz Band

Directors: Larry Dwyer & Matt Merten


Jazz Band 1 is Notre Dame’s top performing jazz ensemble, consisting primarily of non-music majors from every field of study at the University. Selected by audition at the beginning of the school year, the members rehearse 90 minutes a week. The group has three primary goals: (1) to play a variety of musical styles within the jazz idiom, (2) to perform original arrangements from major jazz orchestras such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Clayton-Hamilton, etc., and (3) to encourage students in the group to develop and display their skills at improvisation. The University of Notre Dame Jazz Band annually plays at four campus concerts and does a concert tour to Chicago.

At Notre Dame’s CJF, director Larry Dwyer was named Best Trombonist in 1965 and 1966, was the student leader of ND’s jazz band and combo at the 1966 CJF, and served as a CJF judge in 1987. He is now in his sixteenth year as director of jazz studies at Notre Dame. Director Matt Merten founded Notre Dame’s New Orleans Brass Brand, and is in his twelfth year as a band director at the University of Notre Dame.

The band personnel is: (saxophones) Jessie Wurzer – alto sax, Nicole Blandin – alto sax, Jeff Marino – tenor sax, John Dean – tenor sax, Will Badart – baritone sax, (trumpets) Tom Kane, Jack Wurzer, Craig Reingold, James Ryan, Joey Pye, (trombones) Ryan Boyle, Zach Trewitt, Tim Chang, Caleb Johnson, (rhythm section) Alex Mansour - piano, David Ju - guitar, Jake Gillespie and John O’Neill - bass, Patrick Falvey and Chris Jasinski - drums, (vocalist) Bailey McEachen.

University of Notre Dame New Orleans Brass Band

Director: Matt Merten

The University of Notre Dame New Orleans Brass Band plays traditional and contemporary New Orleans music, and features songs in the style of groups such as the Rebirth Brass Band, the Youngblood Brass Band, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Traditional brass bands in New Orleans combined European march music with the African rhythms and improvisation used in jazz music. In recent decades the New Orleans brass band tradition has incorporated elements of funk and hip hop music. 

Notre Dame’s Brass Band performs at numerous events each year, including concerts at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, informal performances at Legends and Reckers on campus, and at off-campus venues. The group also tours to Chicago annually with Notre Dame’s Jazz Band 1. Director Matt Merten founded Notre Dame’s New Orleans Brass Band in 2004, and is in his twelfth year as a band director at the University of Notre Dame.

The band personnel is: (saxophones) Jessie Wurzer – alto sax, Nicole Blandin – alto & baritone sax, Jeff Marino – tenor sax & clarinet, (trumpets) Tom Kane, Jack Wurzer, Danny Martin, (trombones) Clay Springman, Ryan Boyle, Zach Trewitt, (sousaphone), David Mateyka, Luis Fernandez, Wei Cao, (drumline), John Dean, Theresa Saad, Patrick Falvey, (vocalist) Michelle Mann.

Western Michigan University Jazz Orchestra

Director: Dr. Scott Cowan

Western Michigan University's award-winning JAZZ ORCHESTRA is directed by Dr. Scott Cowan. The 18-member ensemble has received international acclaim for its high performance standards and creative approach to big band jazz. Recognitions include twice winner and once outstanding performance in the college big band category of the Down Beat Magazine annual DB student music awards, a heralded performance in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, over 20 Outstanding Band recognitions at the annual Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, and performances at the New York City Jazz Festival, the Midwest Clinic and International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences. The ensemble's CD's, Travel Notes (2014), Boogaloo Land (2005), Spritely Overdue (1996), Disposable Income (1997), Blue Miles (1998), Sweet Tango (1999), and Cosmosis in (2002) have received rave reviews from the United States to London, and are available on Sea Breeze Vista Recordings.