Jazz Studies

The UNC Jazz Studies program has earned numerous accolades throughout its 30 year history, including more than 100 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards. Student and faculty groups frequently perform on national and international stages, including tours of China, France and Romania in recent years. The program offers jazz degrees at the Bachelor, Master and Doctoral levels with challenging and rewarding experiences in studying and performing jazz.

Jazz Ensembles 

The award-winning jazz ensembles at the University of Northern Colorado offer students performance opportunities in big bands, combos, vocal jazz groups, and Latin jazz. With over 30 years of history, UNC's jazz ensembles have earned numerous accolades, including:

  • More than 100 Downbeat Student Music Awards. GRAMMY nomination for the album Hot IV by Vocal Jazz I.
  • Numerous performances at national and international conferences including The Jazz Education Network, the International Association for Jazz Education, and others.

More than 150 students participate in jazz ensembles. Although the groups are comprised primarily of music majors, they are open to all students by audition. Placement auditions are held at the beginning of the fall semester.

UNC Big Bands

Big Bands

UNC's five big bands, known as "Lab Bands," have a long history of being among the best college jazz ensembles in the country, and offer students exciting, challenging, and rewarding musical experiences. 

Vocal Jazz 

Vocal Jazz

Vocal Jazz at UNC has a long tradition of national and international acclaim, and UNC's Vocal Jazz I was the first college vocal group to ever receive a Grammy nomination.

Jazz Combos

Jazz Combos

UNC's eight small jazz ensembles (or combos) offer challenging and rewarding experiences in studying and performing jazz. Over the years, UNC's jazz combos have performed throughout the country and have won many awards.

Guitar Ensemble

Guitar Ensemble

The UNC Jazz Guitar Ensemble is a specialized group dedicated to celebrating the instrument’s rich history in Jazz. This group presents the students with a special environment where they perform in a section of 5 to 8 guitarists, plus rhythm section.



Our alumni have careers in jazz all over the world:

Ben Haugland, DA '13, Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano, Texas Tech
Jenna McSwain, MM '10, Professional Musician, New Orleans
Angela Parrish, MM '12, Singer/Songwriter, Los Angeles
Kate Skinner, MM '10, Jazz Lecturer, University of Idaho, Moscow
Chris Smith, DA '13, Professional Musician, New York City'

Success Stories

"UNC was the first place I ever truly felt I belonged."

Angela Parrish (MM '12), Singer/Songwriter
Featured in the film La La Land

Angela Parrish, UNC Alum

Faculty & Staff

John Adler, School of Music Faculty

John Adler

Head, Brass and Percussion
Trumpet, Professor of Music

Erik Applegate, School of Music Faculty

Erik Applegate

Jazz Bass
Professor of Music

Kenyon Brenner, School of Music Faculty

Kenyon Brenner

Jazz Saxophone
Instructor of Music

Rex Burchett, School of Music Staff

Rex Burchett

Publishing Manager
UNC Jazz Press

David Caffey, School of Music Faculty

David Caffey

Jazz Composition, Pedagogy
Professor of Music

Andrew Dahlke, School of Music Faculty

Andrew Dahlke

Professor of Music

Julia Dollison, School of Music Faculty

Julia Dollison

Vocal Jazz
Instructor of Music

Socrates Garcia, School of Music Faculty

Socrates Garcia

Director of Music Technology
Assistant Professor of Music

Joel Harris, School of Music Faculty

Joel Harris

Jazz History
Instructor of Music

Steve Kovalcheck, School of Music Faculty

Steve Kovalcheck

Jazz Guitar
Assistant Professor of Music

Dana Landry, School of Music Faculty

Dana Landry

Director of Jazz Studies
Jazz Piano, Professor of Music

Kerry Marsh, School of Music Faculty

Kerry Marsh

Vocal Jazz Director
Instructor of Music

Amy Murphy, School of Music Staff

Amy Murphy

Managing Producer, UNC Greeley Jazz Festival
Vocal Jazz, Instructor of Music

Kelsey Shiba, School of Music Staff

Kelsey Shiba

Associate Director of Jazz Studies
UNC Jazz Press
Frasier 58
(970) 351-1943

Jim White, School of Music Faculty

Jim White

Jazz Drums
Associate Professor of Music

Nat Wickham, School of Music Faculty

Nat Wickham

Professor of Music