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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

Instrumental and Vocal Jazz Ensemble Auditions are held the first week of classes in the fall. Please see the Jazz Ensembles webpage for details and audition music files.

Jazz & African-American
Studies Faculty

Jeffrey W. Holmes

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

Robert Ferrier
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

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

Olabode Omojola
Ethnomusicology, African music; Five College Professor (rotating)
209 Pratt Hall, Mt. Holyoke College
(413) 538-2483   Bio   Email

Felipe Salles


Jazz Studies, Saxophone, Composition; Associate Professor
250 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-6051   Bio   Email

Fumi Tomita
Jazz Performance & Pedagogy; String Bass; Assistant Professor
167 Fine Arts Center
(413) 545-3911  Bio   Email


Jazz Events, Fall 2017

Music & Dance Department

Concerts Free for UMass Students!
(except Multibands, Oct. 20)

For more campus jazz events, see the Fine Arts Center site and click on "On Stage" and then Jazz.

Wed, Oct. 4, 7:30pm, Bezanson Hall, FREE
Includes The Lullaby Project for big band, tangos & more

Tues, Oct. 10, 7:30pm, FAC Concert Hall, FREE, tix required
U.S. MARINE BAND "President's Own"
Our own Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig, director (alum '98)

Fri, Oct. 13, 7:30pm, Bowker, $5/10   Tickets
Jeffrey W. Holmes & Thomas Giampietro, directors

Fri, Oct. 20, 7:30pm, FAC Concert Hall $18/25
Jeffrey W. Holmes, producer

Thurs, Oct. 26, 7:30, Bezanson, FREE
Dann Friedman, director

Sat., Dec. 2, 7:30, Bowker, $5/$10  Tickets
Thom Hannum, director

Thurs., Dec. 7, 7:30pm, Bowker, $5/$10  Tickets
Jeffrey W. Holmes, director
New student & faculty works, plus seasonal favorites

Sun, Dec. 10, 2pm, Bezanson, $5/$10   Tickets
Catherine Jensen-Hole, director

Tues, Dec. 12, 7:30pm, Bowker, $5/$10   Tickets
Thomas Giampietro, director  



top of page

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.
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 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.

Recent Visiting Jazz Artists:

Randy Brecker, trumpet
Mike Baggetta Quartet
Cyrus Chestnut, piano
Kenny Garrett Quintet *
Dave Liebman, sax
Sheila Jordan, voice
Earl MacDonald's New Directions Ensemble
Royal Hartigan: Blood Drum Spirit
Free Planet Radio
Chris Merz, MM'90, sax
Ernie Watts, sax *
Dave Samuels & Caribbean Jazz Project *
Jovino Santos Neto, piano
Matt Wilson, drums
Paul Winter, sax
New England Jazz Ensemble
U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors Big Band
U.S. Marine Corps, Jazz Ensemble

* = Sponsored by the Fine Arts Center

Kenny Garrett Kenny Garrett

Blood Drum Spirit Blood Drum Spirit

Student Award Winners:

Downbeat Winners 2015, Outstanding Performance
Caleb Davis, Drums, Jazz Soloist
Jazz Ensemble I, 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.

Christian Tremblay won the 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 received the 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.

Mike Caudill MM'16, tenor sax; Christian Tremblay '16, piano; and Lucas Apostoleris '15, drums, auditioned and were selected for the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Jazz Orchestra. Led by acclaimed jazz recording artist and former member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Sean Jones, the group played two sets at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in Manhattan as well as two nights in Cumberland, MD.

Lucas ApostolerisLucas Apostoleris

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’ CD Ugandan Suite made Downbeat's Best CD's of 2014 list and 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 Ugandan Suite one of the year's highlights." Salles' previous CD, Departure, was on Downbeat's Best CDs of 2013 list. Salles' Northeastern Suite is being performed by the New England Conservatory's Symphonic Winds, William Drury, conductor, in November 2015.


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. His Mirage won First Prize in the 2015 Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble Composition Contest, professional division (listen at He also conducted the 2015 Delaware All-State Jazz Band. Keep in touch!
Rick Hirsch 2015

Jonathan Mele ’93, MM’95 plays in and around New York City, including gigs with Dave Lalama and backing the late Joan Rivers.  He recorded and mixed tracks at his studio for the band Brewster and singer Jerry Costanzo.  In Spain, he played in Seville and Cadiz with Carlos Bermudo ’93 and presented a drumset masterclass at the Andalusia Center for Contemporary Art's Monastery of Cartuja in Seville.

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.

Tony Lechner ’93, MM ’97 released Under the Midnight Stars (The Rosewood Project), an album of original jazz compositions. The album features fellow UMass alumni Jon Fisher, Alec Derian, and Ross Bellenoit, as well as pianist Miro Sprague and vocalist Rose Detmold. Several songs from the album have won Lechner international recognition as a songwriter:
For Oscar:  2012 Grand Prize, Jazz (John Lennon Songwriting Contest)
Mocha Maya:  2011 ‘Lennon Award for Jazz’ (John Lennon Songwriting Contest) 
     & 2011 Grand Prize, Instrumental (Billboard World Song Contest)
Midnight Stars:  2010 Grand Prize, Jazz (Billboard World Song Contest)
Partiste:  placed in the 2010 Paramount Pictures release Dinner for Schmucks

Big Boss, a new CD by composer and jazz guitarist Charlie Apicella ’01, released on the ZOHO label, reveals his jazz-funk style with his band Iron City.  One of his lessons was published in Downbeat.

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, Tapestry 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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