Jazz Ensemble performs on the Ferst stage

Jazz Ensembles

Jazz Ensembles

The Georgia Tech Jazz Program, under the direction of Dr. Chip Crotts, provides a great opportunity to study one of America’s greatest and most unique art forms. The Jazz Ensembles explore music from the late 1920’s through the present day, including works by composers such as Duke Ellington, Bill Holman, Sammy Nestico, Charles Mingus and Pat Metheny. Emphasis in these groups is focused on ensemble playing and the art of improvisation, an essential element in jazz tradition.

Typically, 2 large jazz ensembles are offered each semester, as well as the opportunity to perform in one of our 3-4 small jazz combos. Each ensemble presents several concerts during an academic semester, in addition to on and off-campus events throughout the year.  The Jazz Program also strives to bring professional artists to campus on a regular basis, and students will often have the opportunity to perform with these musicians and clinicians in concert during the year.

In conjunction with the Ferst Center for the Arts, students also receive opportunities for clinics and masterclasses with jazz musicians who perform on campus as part of their yearly series. Guests of the Jazz Program in past years have included Arturo Sandoval, Earl Klugh, Maynard Ferguson, Roger Ingram, Dimitri Vassilakis, Joe Gransden, Dan Wall, Melvin Jones and Jon Faddis, among others.

Housed in the West Village, the Jazz Program is comprised of 85-90 talented students from across all academic majors at the Institute. As one of the larger jazz programs in the Southeast, the opportunities at Georgia Tech provide a fantastic musical outlet for students interested in jazz and improvisation. This creative outlet helps to balance the academic rigors of Georgia Tech and provide an enjoyable musical experience in the process.

Dr. Chip Crotts (D.M.A., Univ. of Texas at Austin): Director of Jazz Studies (Jazz Ensembles, History of Jazz)


Justin Varnes: Drumset

Ben Weatherford: Guitar

Matt Kaminski: Piano

Melvin Jones: Trumpet

Rob Opitz: Trumpet

John Sandfort: Saxophone

Taryn Newborne: Vocals

Jazz Ensemble rehearsals are Tues/Thurs from 3:30-4:45pm, while the Jazz Combos meet Tues/Thurs from 5:00-6:15pm. Both jazz ensembles are run by a faculty director, while each combo rehearses once per week with a combo coach, and once per week for separately. A sample weekly Jazz Ensemble rehearsal schedule can be found below:


3:05 Tuning

3:15 It Might as Well Be Spring

3:30 Two Seconds to Midnight

3:45- But Beautiful

4:00-  Four Brothers (No saxes, brass and percussion backgrounds only)



3:05 Tuning

3:15 Vocal chart

3:30 But Beautiful (Solos w/ backgrounds)

3:45 Two Seconds to Midnight

4:00 Doozy (Supersax with Rhythm Section)

The GT Jazz Ensembles performs 4-5 concerts per year, while the Jazz Combos perform 2-3 concerts each year. Both jazz ensemble and combos are also requested at numerous institute and award ceremonies for performance throughout the academic calendar year.

Auditions are required for participation in the jazz ensembles or combos. Auditions are typically held on the first two days of each academic semester and sign-up sheets can be found on the door of West Village 171, the first day prior to each semester.  All audition requirements can be found on the auditions page. While every effort is made to provide an opportunity for all students, group size and experience level will often dictate our ability to do so. Ability to read music and play by ear is highly desirable, but not always required, given each unique ensemble setting.

Students can earn humanities credit by participating in the Jazz Ensembles, as well as general elective credits by performing in one of our Combos, provided they meet the requirements listed in your Georgia Tech Catalog.  Each semester will earn you one (1) credit towards your total count as determined by the Institute. 

Course Name: Jazz Ensemble

MUSI 3311

Course Name: Jazz Combo

MUSI 3321

Recent Performance Videos

2023 Jazz Ensemble Concert with Guest Artist Rex Richardson

The Jazz Ensemble with Rex Richardson performs Richardson's "Seize Every Day," a piece he composed and dedicated to the memory his friend and colleague.

Jazz Combos Concert - Spring 2023

The Jazz Combo performs "And Then There Was the Blues." Watch for the saxophone dialogue towards the end of the piece!

Learn More

More Concert Videos

Watch more School of Music performances on our YouTube Channel


The School of Music offers a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles.


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