Jazz Studies

The Mason Jazz Studies Department combines performance, curriculum and service to support House Resolution 57 which states jazz is “hereby designated as a rare and valuable national American treasure.”

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The Mason Jazz ensembles offer opportunities for improvisation, performance, recording, writing, leadership and service. They have performed at the Shanghai Concert Hall (Beijing, China), Center for the Arts, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Virginia Music Educators Association Conference (VMEA), Blues Alley, Kansas City Jazz Summit, JEN Conference 2014 (Dallas, TX), JENerations Jazz Festival 2017 (New Orleans, LA) and more. A highpoint of students’ time at George Mason University is Jazz 4 Justice©, an annual concert that combines the Mason Jazz department with local law communities to raise money for the jazz program and public access to justice.


CONCERTS – Fall 2017

  • Saturday. September 23, 5-9pm:  Arts By George (School of Music Showcases – Mason Jazz Ensemble and Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble perform) Purchase Tickets:  artsbygeorge.com
  • Monday, October 2, 8pm & 10pm: Mason Jazz Ensemble at BLUES ALLEY (1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20007 – 202 – 337-4141, Purchase Tickets: HERE
  • Saturday, October 7, 8pm:  Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra w/ Bria Skonberg (Hylton Performing Arts Center, Purchase Tickets: HERE
  • Saturday. October 21, 7-11pm:  Mason Jazz Night at Epicure Cafe (Mason Jazz small ensembles perform at the Epicure Cafe in Fairfax, VA) Information:  http://www.epicurecafe.org)
  • Wednesday. October 25, 8pm:  Jazz Combos/Steel Pan Ensemble (de Laski 3001 – Free and open to the public)
  • Friday, November 10, 8pm:  Jazz 4 Justice (Hylton Performing Arts Center, Purchase Tickets: HERE
  • Saturday, November 11, 4pm:  American Festival Pops Orchestra “Salute to Veterans” (Hylton Performing Arts Center – Free and open to the public) 
  • Saturday, November 11, 8pm:  Jazz 4 Justice (Center for the Arts, Purchase Tickets: HERE
  • Wednesday, November 15, 8pm:  Jazz Workshop (Harris Theatre, Free and open to the public) 
  • Monday, November 20, 8pm:  Mason Jazz Vocal Night (Center for the Arts, Purchase Tickets: HERE)
  • Wednesday, November 29, 8pm: Jazz Combos/Latin American Ensemble (de Laski 3001 – Free and open to the public)
  • Thursday, January 4, 3pm: Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble at the Jazz Education Network Conference! (featured performer at the JEN Conference, Grand Hyatt Regency, Dallas, TX)


DEPARTMENTALS (12:30 – 1:20pm, Harris Theatre, MUSI 300 credit) 

  • Wednesday, October 4:  Jazz Combos
  • Wednesday, October 11:  Jazz Voice Studio
  • Monday, October 23:  Steel Pan Ensemble (de Laski 3001)
  • Wednesday, November 1:  Latin American Ensemble
  • Wednesday, November 15:  Jazz Combos


  • Sunday, August 27, 4-6pm:  Mason Jazz “Welcome Back” Party – Dinner and performance by your Mason Jazz faculty.  (de Laski 3001)  Mandatory for all Jazz majors. Strongly suggested for Jazz minors and those participating in jazz ensembles. 
  • Saturday, October 7: 4pm:  Patrick Foit – Senior Jazz Percussion (Harris Theatre) 
  • Wednesday, October 18, 6pm:  Marcelo Carrion – Senior Jazz Guitar (Harris Theatre)
  • Thursday, November 16, 8pm:  John Longbottom – Senior Jazz Saxophone (Harris Theatre)
  • Saturday, November 18, 4pm:  Taewon “Johnny” Kim – Senior Jazz Voice (Harris Theatre)
  • Sunday, December 10, 5pm:  Tracey Wright – Senior Jazz Voice (Harris Theatre)


Spring 2018 Jazz Ensemble Auditions (current Mason students) 

  • Instrumental Audition Piece:
  • Instrumentalists:  Play the melody for one chorus and improvise for two choruses. In addition, there will be sight-reading on the audition. Please bring your own musical accompaniment/backing track for iPod or CD player.
  • Vocalists:  Sing one song of your choice (jazz preferred), sight-read a solo musical line and sing a brief tonal melody test. Please bring your own musical accompaniment/backing track for either iPod or CD player.
  • Visit the SEATING PLACEMENT AUDITIONS page to sign up for an audition.
  • If all audition slots are filled, please e-mail Dr. Darden Purcell.




The National Jazz Workshop at Mason 2017 was an incredible week of education and performances! Congratulations to Dr. Matt Niess for his hard work putting this camp together! To learn more about the NJW, visit www.nationaljazzworkshop.org.

2018, we hosted two new events, the Mason Vocal Jazz Festival with the New York Voices and the Mason High School Jazz Artist Competition! The Mason Vocal Jazz Festival 2018 is on the books with guest artist/clinicians, Rosana Eckert and Greg Jasperse! Stay tuned for competition information!

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Swing features the Mason Jazz Ensemble (Jim Carroll), Mason Jazz Combo I (Wade Beach), Afro-Cuban Ensemble (Joe McCarthy), Traditional Jazz Ensemble (Dave Robinson), Steel Pan Ensemble (Victor Provost) and the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble (Darden Purcell).  Recorded by CFA Audio Engineer, Billy Kessinger, eighty-six students participated in this project. Purchase at www.cdbaby.com/cd/masonjazz, iTunes, Amazon or e-mail: dpurcel2@gmu.edu. Proceeds benefit the GMU Jazz Foundation for scholarships, internships, trips and future recordings.



The Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble was awarded “Outstanding Ensemble” at the Kansas City Jazz Summit, April 2016, hosted by John Stafford at KCKCC. Two ensembles were awarded and we are thrilled for this honor. “Outstanding Musicianship” awards were also given to Kyra Larson, Sarah Moyers, Huy Ngo and Khanh Ngo.

Jim Carroll and the Mason Jazz Saxophone Ensemble at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in Dallas, TX, January 2014.


Dr. Darden Purcell and members of the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble with indie pop star Ben Folds at their performances with the Virginia Beach Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Syphony Orchestra.


George Mason University: Music Library’s move to Fenwick met with Music and Fanfare! 

George Mason University:  Mason Joins Worldwide Jazz Day Celebration with an All-Jazz Concert!
All About Jazz: Washington D.C. Reclaims it’s role as a Jazz Destination
DownBeat: Jazz Education Network gets NEA grant to support Trad Jazz Curriculum Project
The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper:  A Master of Pan Jazz Ramajay
Northern Virginia Magazine:  GMU’s 12th Annual Jazz 4 Justice concert spotlights “Nothin’ But the Blues
George Mason University:  Musicians and Lawyers Come Together in Jazz 4 Justice
DC Metro Theater Arts:  Mardi Gras with the MJO at George Mason University
DC Metro Theatre Arts:  Jazz 4 Justice – 5 Star Review
Mason Spirit:  Jazz Ensemble Travels to China in Musical Exchange
JazzTimes:  George Mason University – Jazz Schools
Fairfax Times:  Summer Jazz Camp at George Mason offers Life Lessons with focus on Improv Skills