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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 Ensemble Auditions are held on the week of Sept. 8, 2015. Audition sign up is outside Rm. 252, Fine Arts Center Music wing. Click for instrumental Jazz Ensemble Audition details (pdf).
Audition music available in Music office or online: Saxophone  Trumpet  TenorTrombone  BassTrb/Tuba  Guitar-Piano  Bass  Drumset

Vocal Jazz Ensemble
: click for Ensemble/Audition info, excerpts for Soprano/Alto or Tenor/Bass


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

Jazz Guitar; Adjunct Faculty
149L Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-2227   Bio   Email

Thomas Giampietro
Jazz Studies (Drum Set); Lecturer
149M Fine Arts Center
(413) 577-1709   Bio   Email

Donald James

Ethnomusicology; Lecturer
149 Fine Arts Center
TBA: Phone #    Bio   Email

Catherine Jensen-Hole
Vocal Jazz, Undergraduate Composition & Arranging; Visiting Assistant Professor
149F Fine Arts Center
(413) 577-2459   Bio   Email

Salvatore Macchia
Jazz & Classical Bass, Composition; Professor
281 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-6053   Bio   Email

Felipe Salles
Jazz Studies, Saxophone, Composition; Assistant Professor
167 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-6051   Bio   Email














Jazz Events

Spring 2015

Thurs., Jan. 29, 8pm, Bezanson
Catherine Jensen-Hole, Felipe Salles, Thomas Giampietro, Jeffrey W. Holmes, Robert Ferrier & guests

Thurs., Feb. 5, 7:30pm, Bowker
Fine Arts Center Series   Info/Tickets

Thurs, Feb. 12, 8pm, Bezanson, FREE
Graduate jazz composers present new works; with Jazz Ensemble I

Thurs, Feb. 19, 7:30pm, Bowker
Spotlight on the Music of 1969

Jazz Ensemble I, Chapel Jazz, Jazz Lab, Vocal Jazz & Combos   Tickets

Thurs., Feb. 26, 8pm, Bezanson
Magic Triangle Series  Info/Tickets

Sat., Feb. 28, 8:30am-6pm, Bezanson & Music wing, FREE
17th Annual H.S. JAZZ FESTIVAL 
H.S. Big Bands, Combos & Vocal Jazz Ensembles; Clinics/Adjudications by faculty & guest Eddie Palmieri
Ensemble Registration
Winning H.S. band plays at 7:30pm
Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra, 8pm, Concert Hall, FAC Series   Info/Tickets

Sat., March 7, 9am-5pm, Hampshire College, FREE

Mon., Mar. 9, 7:30 & 9:30pm,
Amherst Brewing Co., Donations
Tribute to Frank Sinatra

Jeffrey W. Holmes, director
Guest vocalists Devin Beck, Ben Beal, Will Malvey & Ryan Hollander 

Sat., Mar. 28, 8:30am-8pm, Bezanson
Hosts: Jonathan Hulting-Cohen & Felipe Salles; Guests: Robert Young & Rudresh Mahanthappa
Registration/details available soon

Thurs., April 2, 8pm, Bowker
Inner Diaspora

Magic Triangle Series   Info/Tickets

Tues., April 7, 8pm, Bezanson, FREE
Mara Penatzer & Wes Smith, directors

Tues., April 14, 8pm, Bowker
Felipe Salles,, director

Sun., April 26, 8pm, Bezanson
Catherine Jensen-Hole, director

Wed., April 29, 8pm, Bowker
Jeffrey W. Holmes, director

Thurs., April 30, 8pm, Bezanson
Burning Bridge

Magic Triangle Series  Info/Tickets


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.

Visiting Jazz Artists from 2013-14:

Cyrus Chestnut, piano
Kenny Garrett Quintet *
Christopher Merz, MM'90
New England Jazz Ensemble
U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors Big Band
U.S. Marine Corps, Jazz Ensemble

Other recent Visiting Jazz Artists:

Randy Brecker, trumpet
Dave Liebman, sax
Sheila Jordan, voice
Earl MacDonald's New Directions Ensemble
Royal Hartigan: Blood Drum Spirit
Free Planet Radio
Ernie Watts, sax *
Dave Samuels & Caribbean Jazz Project *
Jovino Santos Neto, piano
Matt Wilson, drums

* = Sponsored by the Fine Arts Center

Kenny Garrett Kenny Garrett

Blood Drum Spirit Blood Drum Spirit

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

Davis-Elligers-Caudill At the Villanova Jazz Festival: Our jazz combo City of Four placed first in the Combo Division. Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Jeff Holmes, was first in the Big Band Division. Drummer Caleb Davis '15, trumpeter Sean Elligers MM'15 and saxophonist Mike Caudill '14 (pictured) received Outstanding Soloist awards. The sax and trumpet sections of Jazz Ensemble I received the Best Section awards.

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.

Christian Tremblay, Fletcher Henderson/Max Roach Endowed Scholarship Award

Jeffrey Schneider MM'14 and Michael Caudill '14 each won an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award.

Lucas Apostoleris '15, Howard M. Lebow Memorial Scholarship. At the Jazz Education Network conference in Dallas, Lucas' September Again was selected for performance in the Student Composition Showcase

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’ new CD, Ugandan Suite, received this review from All About Jazz: "Shape-shifting tunes, influences from all over the globe, superb musicianship, layered percussions, an inspired two reed front line rising up from those ebullient layerings, and an ensemble groove of the highest order make Salles' Ugandan Suite one of the year's highlights." Salles' previous CD, Departure, was on Downbeat's Best CDs of 2013 list. His tour of Finland included masterclasses/clinics and performances in Helsinki, Jyvaskyla, Kokkola and Kuopio. As the visiting Ida Beam Distinguished Scholar at the University of Iowa, Salles was the featured composer/soloist with three ensembles, and gave a lecture/demonstration and a sax masterclass.


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.

Ugandan Suite, Capri Records, 2014

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

Ugandan Suite


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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