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 many 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 many 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.


Fall 2017 Jazz Ensemble Auditions

  • Stay tuned for dates and repertoire
  • Visit the JAZZ AUDITIONS page for information and sign up link.

CONCERTS – Spring 2017

  • Wed. January 4th – Sat. Jan 7th:  Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference (MJE and MJVE – JENerations Jazz Festival Performances, New Orleans, LA) 
  • Sun. February 12th, 3pm:  American Festival Pops Orchestra (Hylton Performing Arts Center. Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble perform with Tony Maiello and the AFPO. Tickets: http://hyltoncenter.org/calendar/805/)
  • Wed. February 15th, 6:30pm:  Fairfax Jazz Night (Fairfax High School.  Members of the “Voyage” and Jazz Voice students perform for a concert at Fairfax High School.  The Fairfax High School Jazz Bands are under the direction of Mason alumni, Kyle Harrington!) 
  • Sat. February 25th, 6pm:  Friends of Music Mardi Gras Gala (de Laski 3001. Contact Alice Magelssen-Green for event details)
  • Sat. March 4th, 7-11pm:  Mason Jazz Night at Epicure Cafe (Mason Jazz groups perform at the Epicure Cafe in Fairfax, VA.  http://www.epicurecafe.org)
  • Sat. March 11th:  Mason Vocal Jazz Festival (Vocal Jazz Festival with featured artists, the New York Voices. Registration: https://music.gmu.edu/mason-vocal-jazz-festival/)
  • Sat. March 11th, 8pm:  Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra feat the New York Voices (Center for the Arts, Tickets:  http://cfa.gmu.edu/calendar/2295/)
  • Tues. March 21st, 1-5pm:  Music Library Grand Opening (Traditional Jazz Ensemble will perform at the grand reopening of the Mason Music Library!) 
  • Wed. March 29th, 8pm:  Jazz Combos (de Laski 3001 – Free and Open to the public)
  • Mon. April 3rd, 8pm:  Big Band Showdown (Center for the Arts, Tickets: http://cfa.gmu.edu/calendar/2434/)
  • Wed. April 19th, 8pm: Jazz Combos/Traditional Jazz Ensemble (de Laski 3001 – Free and open to the public)
  • Fri. April 21st, 6:30pm:  Jazz, Brews and BBQ (Fairfax Country Club, Tickets:  http://alumni.gmu.edu/jazzbrewsandbbq or 703-993-8641) 
  • Wed. April 26th, 8pm:  Jazz Workshop (de Laski 3001 – Free and open to the public)
  • Sun. April 30th, 2pm:  International Jazz Day with the Mason Jazz Ensemble (Center for the Arts. Purchase Tickets:  http://cfa.gmu.edu/calendar/2449/)
  • Mon. May 1st, 4:30pm:  Law Day (The Mason Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Vocal Ensemble perform at the Weiner, Spivey and Miller Law Day.)
  • Tues. May 2nd, 8pm:  Mason Jazz Vocal Night (Center for the Arts, Tickets:  http://cfa.gmu.edu/calendar/2451/)


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

  • Wed. March 1st: Jazz Voice Studio
  • Wed. March 8th:  Jazz Combos
  • Wed. April 5th:  Traditional Jazz Ensemble
  • Wed. April 12th:  Jazz Combos


  • Fri. January 27th, 3pm:  Jazz Convocation – Mandatory for Jazz Majors. Strongly suggested for Jazz Minors and those participating in jazz ensembles. Performance by your Mason Jazz faculty! (de Laski Performing Arts Building, room 327C) 
  • Thur. February 23rd, 8pm:  Leigh Pilzer – DMA Jazz Saxophone (de Laski 3001)
  • Sun. April 9th, 8pm:  Tomas Jackson – Junior Jazz Piano (de Laski 3001)
  • Sat. April 15, 1pm:  Luis Palacios – DMA Jazz Saxophone (Harris Theatre)
  • Thur. May 4th, 8pm:  Zack Williams – Junior Jazz Bass (de Laski 3001)
  • Sat. May 6th, 4pm:  Joe Donegan – Senior Jazz Trumpet (de Laski 3001)





We are thrilled to announce the release of our CD, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Swing. This CD features fourteen tracks and six performing ensembles including 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 CD at www.cdbaby.com/cd/masonjazz, iTunes or Amazon. For hard copies and bulk ordering, e-mail: dpurcel2@gmu.edu. Proceeds from CD sales benefit the GMU Jazz Foundation for scholarships, internships, trips and future recordings.  Thank you for your support.


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