Jazz Ensemble


The Williams Jazz Ensemble (big band), directed by Kris Allen (see www.allenjazz.com) is the cornerstone of a large and vibrant community of jazz faculty and students. Our curriculum includes academic courses (see below*), ensembles (traditional big band, by audition, and several small ensembles), and applied lessons on primary jazz instruments.  Ensembles are led by Kris Allen (big band and combo), Avery Sharpe (sextet), Laura Pierce (Jazz Vocal Ensemble), and John Wheeler (jazz/rock ensemble).  Senior Lecturer in Music Andy Jaffe (see www.andyjaffe.com) who is also affiliated with Africana Studies, teaches a variety of focused jazz history and theory classes.
Our jazz applied lesson faculty, some of whom appear in the quicktime video link at the very bottom of this page in a faculty recital, include Conor Meehan, drums; Avery Sharpe, bass; John Nazarenko, piano; Michael Kolodny, saxophone; Laura Pierce, vocals; Nathan Botts, trumpet;  and John Wheeler, trombone. All are active professionals.

Every year the jazz program brings guest artists and clinicians to campus for performances and to work with students. Past visitors have included the Branford Marsalis Quartet, The David Sanchez Quintet, Winard Harper, The Marcus Roberts Trio, Ellingtonian John Lamb, and Saxophonist Claire Daly, among others. Guest lecturers have included Dr. Yusef Lateef, Ravi Coltrane, Dan Morgenstern, Don Sickler, Dr. Lewis Porter, and many others. 

The Williams Jazz Ensemble and small combos perform on and off campus. The ensemble makes appearances throughout western Massachusetts and performs in Boston and New York. Periodically the WJE tours further afield including international tours.

FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS: Whether you are planning to apply early or regular decision, we advise that you visit campus to speak with us and attend classes and if appropriate sit in on a rehearsal (Admissions can facilitate with an overnight stay as well).  To set up a visit please email Andy Jaffe (ajaffe@williams.edu) and Jazz Ensemble Director Kris Allen (kallen@williams.edu) for further information and scheduling.

2013 Auditions: Sept. 3, 2013

* In addition to jazz applied lessons, the curriculum includes the following academic courses:

NOTE: Andy Jaffe will be offering a new Jazz Composition Survey course, entitled "A Composer's History of Jazz" (Mu 152) in the Fall of 2013.  Kris Allen will be offering a new history course, "Charlie Parker and the (R)evolution of Modern Jazz" (MUS 254) in the Spring of 2014.

The following are continuing courses (some with new catalog numbers -- see Music Department Major Requirements for further information on the newly designed major for which incoming students in the Fall of '13 will be eligible):

Mu 104b Jazz Theory and Improvisation (Jaffe)  Formerly Mu 212
Mu 204 Jazz Theory and Improvisation II (Jaffe)  Formerly Mu 213
Mu 309 Jazz Arranging and Composition (Jaffe) Formerly Mu 217
Mu 221T Jazz Ear Training (Jaffe)
Mu 240 Intro to the Music of Ellington (Jaffe)
Mu 241 Intro to the Music of Coltrane (Jaffe)

13/14 Performances:

Oct. 25, 8pm - Jazz Ensemble
Dec. 4, 7pm - Small Jazz Ensembles
May 2, 8pm - Jazz Ensemble with guest
May 14, 7pm - Small Jazz Ensembles

12/13 Performances:

Oct. 26, 8pm - Jazz Ensemble
Dec. 5, 7pm - Small Jazz Ensembles
April 26, 8pm - Jazz Ensemble with guest
May 8, 7pm - Small Jazz Ensembles

11/12 Performances:

Oct. 29, 8pm @ '62 Center
Dec. 7, 7pm - Jazz Improvisation
Dec. 8, 7pm - Small Jazz Ensembles
April 27, 8pm - Jazz Ensemble with guest Sean Jones, trumpet
May 9, 7pm - Small Jazz Ensembles

For more information or if you have questions, please feel free to contact Kris Allen ( kris.allen@williams.edu) .View our short video of the Jazz Ensemble by clicking here.

To view youtubes of the Jazz Ensemble's performance with guest artist Lionel Loueke on April 26th 2013, go to the following youtube page:


To see photos of ensemble from our soundcheck on the 26th go to:

To see a youtube of our joint concert in the Fall 2012 with the New England Jazz Ensemble at The Pittsfield Jazz Festival:

Don't Git Sassy

To view Youtube links of our concert on May 6, 2011, featuring guest artist Gary Smulyan, click on the following links:

Too Young for the Blues

Stockholm Sweetnin'

Smoke Signals


Olivia's Arrival

Hold Back Tomorrow

Blues for C M

Cinematic Suite

For photos of 2010 Eph-Palooza: click here.

To view Youtube links of our concert on March 6 2010, featuring guest artist Don Braden, click on the following links:

  Swingin at the Haven 

  Blues for Baltimore

  Boogie Stop Shuffle

  The Vail Jumpers

  Close Your Eyes


  The Landing Zone


  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

  The Boiling Point

For photos of 2010 Eph-Palooza: click here.

To see photos of the rehearsal for the March 7, 2008 Concert, click here.


10/11 Performances:

   Eph Palooza     Nov. 11     May 6     May 12 

09/10 Performances:

   Eph Palooza     Dec. 10     March 6     May 11     May 13 

08/09 Performances:

   Eph Palooza    Dec. 4      March 6     April 14 

 07/08 Performances: 

   Eph Palooza    Nov. 10      March 7     April 24 

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