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Jazz & African-American

Music Studies

Welcome to the UMass Amherst Jazz Program!
Scroll down or click on one of the links:
Jazz Faculty
   *     Jazz Events
Jazz Ensembles     *     Jazz Degree Programs
Jazz Program News    *    Recordings

Audition Requirements for Undergrad Admission

Jazz Faculty

Jeffrey W. Holmes

Director of Jazz & African-American Music Studies Program; Conductor, Composition; Professor
252 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-6046   Bio  Email
  New CD-Oct 2012

T. Dennis Brown

Music Education; Associate Professor (Jazz History)
265 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-6135   Bio   Email

Jazz Guitar; Adjunct Faculty
149L Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-2227   Bio   Email
Jazz Studies (Drum Set); Lecturer
149M Fine Arts Center
(413) 577-1709   Bio   Email
Vocal Jazz, Undergraduate Composition & Arranging; Visiting Assistant Professor
149F Fine Arts Center
(413) 577-2459   Bio   Email
Jazz & Classical Bass, Composition; Professor
281 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-6053   Bio   Email
Jazz Studies, Saxophone, Composition; Assistant Professor
167 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-6051   Bio   Email

Jazz Events,
Spring 2014

Please purchase tickets online or call the Box Office: 413-545-2511

Thurs, Jan. 30, 8pm, Bezanson
Guest ensemble from CT including Profs. Holmes & Sporny

Thurs, Feb. 6, 8pm, Bezanson, FREE

Grad Chamber Jazz Ensemble & Jazz Ensemble I play new works by Grad Composers

Fri/Sat, March 7/8, Bezanson, FREE
Lynn Klock, host
Celebrating Prof. Klock's 35 years at UMass
Details: 75th Anniversary page

Sun, March 9, 2pm, FAC Concert Hall, FREE
Spotlight on Jazz Alumni spanning six decades
Jeffrey W. Holmes, producer
Details: 75th Anniversary page

Tues, April 5, 8:30am-6pm, Music wing, FREE
Guest clinician Kenny Garrett Quintet, also performing in 8pm concert, Tickets/info

Sun, April 27, 5pm, Bezanson
Catherine Jensen-Hole, director

Tues, April 29, 8pm, Bowker
Tom Giampietro, director
Spotlighting UMass jazz vocalists

Wed, April 30, 8pm, Bowker
Jeffrey W. Holmes, director


Jazz Ensembles

Jeffrey W. Holmes, director
This award-winning Big Band has gained national and international recognition including top honors at major collegiate jazz festivals and conferences, and ensemble, individual performing, and writing citations from Downbeat Magazine's Annual Student Music Awards. Guest jazz artists are commonly featured with this ensemble. (Recent guests: Sheila Jordan, voice; Jovino Santos Neto, piano)

Members of Studio Orchestra

Strings, winds and percussion augment Jazz Ensemble I to form the Studio Orchestra, seven times named Best Collegiate Studio Orchestra and three times Best Blues/Pop/Rock Ensemble by Downbeat. Faculty and student works are performed prominently along with significant historic repertoire.

Felipe Salles & Thomas Giampietro, directors
Presents traditional big-band literature, experimental compositions, and pop and rock music.

This big-band ensemble performs a varied repertoire, and is conducted by Graduate Jazz majors.

Catherine Jensen-Hole, director
The primary ensemble for vocal jazz studies, it has been named Best Collegiate Jazz Choir by Downbeat magazine. Consisting of 8-12 singers and a rhythm section that is often augmented by horns, the ensemble performs both standard and contemporary jazz repertoire arranged by faculty, students and nationally-recognized vocal jazz arrangers.
Members of Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Jazz Faculty and Jazz Graduate students, directors/coaches
Multiple ensembles perform standard and student-written materials in concert and weekly recital settings.

This Fine Arts Center two-week summer program, although not a part of Music Department curricula or degree programs, takes place in the Music wing of the Fine Arts Center and includes jazz faculty members from the Department. (To learn more, please see the website)


Jazz Degree Programs

Undergraduate Jazz Degree Program:

Jazz & African-American Music Studies (JAAMS):
Director: Professor Jeffrey W. Holmes,, (413) 545-6046

A jazz performance program which requires junior and senior recitals, plus courses that include jazz history, African-American music, jazz arranging and composition, jazz theory and improvisation, instrument- and voice-related classes, and applied lessons. Students also participate in a broad range of performance styles and ensembles, which is of great use when entering professional careers.
Links to detailed course subplans (pdf format) in Jazz:

See also the Undergraduate Music Programs page & the
Undergraduate Audition Requirements page


Graduate Jazz Degree Program:

Jazz Composition & Arranging
Director: Prof. Jeffrey W. Holmes,, (413) 545-6046
Entry Requirements on the Graduate Audition Requirements page
For Subplan/Degree Checklist: (PDF, Word Doc)
Download Graduate Music Handbook (pdf)
See also the Graduate Music Programs page

The jazz composition and arranging Masters program is intended for musicians who desire to pursue graduate study in the field of jazz studies in order to enhance their own artistry and prepare for professional careers in the jazz field.

Please note: There is no graduate degree in Jazz performance, but candidates for the Masters degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging (click for requirements) may study one of the traditional jazz instruments: saxophone, trumpet, trombone, percussion/drums, bass, piano, voice or guitar, as well as play in jazz ensembles.



Jazz Program News

Jazz Quintet in Colombia Jazz Quintet --Micah Maurio MM'13, trumpet; Mat Schumer MM'12, sax; Chris Baymon, piano; Dave Hassell '11, bass and Ted Sullivan '11, drums--spent 10 days performing and teaching with the Second University Jazz Festival in Colombia, South America at the universities in Medellin, Pereira and Manizales, the library in La Ceja, and at various public sites.

Jazz Ensemble I & Studio Orchestra performed at the National Association for Music Education 2013 Biennial Eastern Division Conference under the direction of Jeffrey W. Holmes.  The guest singer was Sheila Jordan, 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Masters Honoree and vocal jazz icon.

Our amazing list of Visiting Artists from 2012-13:
Blood Drum Spirit/Royal Hartigan
Gary Burton, vibraphonist *
Sheila Jordan, NEA Masters Honoree, voice
Richard Kelley, jazz trumpet, Boston Pops
Dave Liebman, Grammy-winning saxophonist
Earl MacDonald & Hartford Jazz Society's
   New Directions Ensemble
Jane Monheit, voice *
Dick Oatts, jazz sax, Temple University
Dave Samuels, mallets & Caribbean Jazz Project *
Rob Zappulla, voice

Dave Liebman Dave Liebman

* = Sponsored by the Fine Arts Center

Student Award Winners:

Downbeat Winners
Gregory R. Blair ’13
, Jazz Arrangement
Jeff Schneider MM’13, Jazz Soloist
UMASS Chamber Funk Ensemble, Blues/Pop/Rock Group

Jeffrey Schneider MM'14 and Micah Maurio MM'13 were selected for the Jazz Performance and Jazz Composition areas of the Mentor Program of the Jazz Education Network. The national program pairs college/university jazz students, on a track toward a career in performance, education or the business of music and the arts, with experts in their chosen field.

Chris Sartori, Fletcher Henderson/Max Roach Endowed Scholarship Award

Michael Caudill, Frank Prentice Rand Scholarship & Theodore Presser Foundation Award

Gregory Blair, Class of 1945 Merit Scholarship

Lucas Apostoleris, Howard M. Lebow Memorial Scholarship

Faculty News:

Jazz drummer Thomas Giampietro was featured on the Sabian Cymbal artist's page. He released his first CD as a leader, A Faith Rewarded, available on CDBaby (see Recordings, below).

Catherine Jensen-Hole was guest conductor of the Maine All State Honors Jazz Choir.  She performed and taught for two weeks at the 2012 Jazz in July program.

Of One's Own, the CD of the Jeff Holmes Quartet, was released by Miles High Records. The CD includes acoustic jazz quartet music featuring five original works by Professor Holmes, re-workings of the standards Poinciana and So Long Farewell (from the Sound of Music), and arrangements of contemporary and more traditional straight ahead jazz with Latin and Gospel influences.  The CD is available locally at Turn It Up, Barnes & Noble, Newbury Comics, Amherst Music House and Gerry’s Music, and on, itunes and cduniverse.

Felipe Salles’ article, “Integrating the Rhythms of Brazil into Your Classroom” appeared in the Massachusetts Music News. He co-produced the debut CD A Better Fate by Eric Erhardt, veteran saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist. All of the music on his new CD, Departure, was composed by Salles for his quintet, which includes internationally known jazz trumpeter, Randy Brecker.  In this, Salles’ fifth CD as leader of an ensemble, he blends elements of Brazilian music, jazz and pop, while exploring 20th century classical music’s 12-tone rows, symmetric modes and super-imposition of poly chords. A review on @Critical Jazz said, “Fresh compositions cutting new ground, haunting and cutting a wide musical path through a variety of genres, Salles has seemingly taken a musical road less traveled…” Latin Jazz Network said: “All of Salles' mastery and uniqueness on the tenor saxophone is captured on Departure, a beautifully angular composition that mixes a truly exquisite and exotic melody with the offbeat jabbing of a constantly shifting rhythm."    The CD, on the Tapestry label, is available at, and also received glowing reviews in Downbeat, Facts on Wax and the Urban Flux.


Jazz Alumni News:

Alto saxophonist Libby Richman '76 performed in the New York City area with her jazz group (including her husband John Philpott) at Wave Hill Garden and Cultural Center, Bronx, as part of the BxIndie Music at Sunset concert series.  She celebrated Women's History Month with a concert at The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT.

Fantasia on an Ellington Theme by Rick Hirsch '92 was performed by the 2013 All-State Jazz Ensembles in Arizona and Kentucky; his work Free Food? was played at the 2013 Pennsylvania All-State Jazz Ensemble.  The works can be heard at   Rick reports “an excellent hang” at the JEN conference with Chris Merz MM ’90 and Chris Kozak ’98, MM’01.
Rick Hirsch

Throughout 2012, Jonathan Mele ’93, MM’95 was in the studio recording with, among others, the Jeff Holmes Big Band and singer Jerry Costanzo.  He played on numerous jingles including Virgin Airways Australia, Ziploc, State Farm, and in the movie Sparkle.  Mele performed live with Joe Piscopo, the New England Jazz Ensemble at Pittsfield, MA Jazz Festival and in the New York City area.

David Pope '95, saxophonist and composer, was named Distinguished Teacher of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University  for 2012-13.  He has been on the faculty since 2000 and recently presented a recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington , D.C.

Ibeji, a CD by Paul Lieberman MM'08 , appeared on several Best of 2011 lists including Jon Garelick's of the Boston Phoenix. He received twin nominations on the website Latin Jazz Corner, for Brazilian Jazz Album of the Year and Latin Jazz Flutist of the Year. His music received outstanding reviews on Step Tempest and Jazz Times. All About Jazz said: stunning, heartfelt, and emotional. Lieberman, [who] is a soulful player on any instrument, conveying deep emotional content... demonstrates his instrumental mastery and reveals himself as a formidable composer.
Paul Lieberman

Alex Lee-Clark MM’10 won the Ithaca College Jazz Composition Competition in the College/Pro category for his work Rolo Tomassi.


Student & Faculty Recordings

Student Ensemble Recordings
(click to listen to audio mp3 file)

Studio Orchestra
Irving Berlin's Let's Face the Music and Dance (arr. Mike Tomaro/Jeffrey W. Holmes)

Jazz Combo
Alex Lee Clark's The Big Lebowski Suite, "Walter Sobchak"

Jazz Ensemble I
Chris Lapidas' Black Jack

Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Brooks Bowman's East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)
(Additional lyrics by Catherine Jensen-Hole)

JAZZ FOR THE HOLIDAYS, a live, 2-disc CD set, featuring highlights from five "Jazz for the Holidays & Beyond" concerts by UMass' award-winning Jazz Ensemble I and guests, directed by Jeffrey W. Holmes; also includes a special bonus track featuring the late Horace Clarence Boyer. Available online at (lowest price, $11.99 plus tax & shipping, listen to samples) or

Faculty CDs

Thomas Giampietro, Drummer

Selected Discography

Jazz Recordings:

As Leader:
A Faith Rewarded
- Tom Giampietro Quartet (2013)
with Don Aliquo, Chris Walters & Jonathan Wires
CDUniverse, CD Baby, Itunes & Amazon

As co-leader:
The Affinity Trio (2010)
with Don Aliquo and Jonathan Wires
CD Baby, Amazon

A Faith Rewarded

As a sideman:
Go Round - Jeff Coffin
Commonality - Jeff Coffin
Cool Blue Swing
- Chris Walters
Joy Unspeakable - Liz Johnson
Annie and the Hot Club- Annie Sellick
Refreshingly Cool - Rachel Price

Bluegrass/American Recordings:

As a sideman:
Aquafier - Andy Hall
Sound of the Slide Guitar - Andy Hall
Comin' On Strong - David Peterson


Jeffrey W. Holmes, Jazz Bandleader, Composer, Trumpeter & Pianist

Of One's Own, Jeff Holmes Quartet (Release Oct. 16, 2012)
Jeff Holmes, piano, composer/arranger all tracks; Adam Kolker, tenor, soprano & bass clarinet; James Cammack, basses; Steve Johns, drums
Label: Miles High Records
Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble,

Chicago Exitos!
Artist: New York Latin All-Stars featuring Eddie Ganz
Jeff Holmes, trumpet/flugelhorn and horn arranger, all tracks
Chicago II Records, available: Amazon,, Itunes

It's A Grand Night For Swinging,
New England Jazz Ensemble
with guests John Abercrombie, guitar; Ali Ryerson, flute & Giacomo Gates, vocal
Jeff Holmes, Lead trumpet all tracks; arranger: It's A Grand Night For Swinging, Jazz Folk, Labour Day, Risky Business
CDBaby, Amazon

Earth Music, Paul Winter Consort
Jeff Holmes composer, and performer (piano), Amazon

Earth Music by Paul Winter


Felipe Salles, Jazz Composer & Saxophonist
Listed: Felipe Salles Group/Quintet recordings. Click for complete list.

Departure, featuring Randy Brecker, Tapestry Records, 2012

Timeline, modern jazz-Brazilian to Afro-Cuban, Curare Records, 2009

South American Suite, Jazz harmony & improvisation with Brazilian rhythms, Curare Records, 2007

Mind Motions, Brazilian, Latin & traditional jazz, Fresh Sound/New Talent, 2003

Further South, Brazilian, Latin & traditional jazz, Fresh Sound/New Talent, 2001




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