The jazz department at The Moores School of Music is small but exceptional. The department has steadily grown since the 1980s, when Noe Marmolejo took over the position as director; only recently has the program begun to grow exponentially in both its scope and size. The jazz department features two ensembles, Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble, with an occasional Jazz Combo offering in certain semesters. Classroom courses within jazz studies include Jazz History I and II, Survey of Jazz Masters, Analysis of Jazz Improvisation, and Listening to Jazz (for non-music majors).
The goal of the jazz department focuses on exposing students to the historical and technical performance practices found in the entire spectrum of jazz with a philosophy that aims at creating a balance between educational and performance excellence. Improvisation and adaptation are important concepts to the program; each is viewed as an important skill to be used in any performance.
The jazz department has also hosted The Moores School of Music Jazz Festival since 1999. This annual event welcomes junior high and high school jazz ensembles to perform in an adjudicated festival setting for a panel of judges comprised of local professional jazz musicians. Click here for a history of the festival.