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.”


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 (New Orleans, LA), JEN Conference 2018 (Dallas, TX) 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 – Spring 2018 

  • Thursday, January 4, 3pm: Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference – Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble (Hyatt Regency, Dallas, TX)
  • Saturday, February 10, 8pm:  American Festival Pops Orchestra, Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble (Hylton Performing Arts Center, Purchase Tickets
  • Wednesday, February 28, 7pm:  Fairfax High School Jazz Night (Mason Jazz Ensemble joins the Fairfax HS Jazz bands for an evening celebrating “Big Band Jazz!” – Fairfax HS, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA 22030) 
  • Saturday, March 10, All Day:  Mason Vocal Jazz Festival w/ Jennifer Barnes and Rosana Eckert (Harris Theatre, Details and Registration: Mason Vocal Jazz Festival
  • Wednesday, March 21, 8pm:  Jazz Combos/Latin American Ensemble (de Laski 3001 – Free and open to the public)
  • Saturday, March 31, 8pm:  Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra with Bria Skonberg (Center for the Arts, Purchase Tickets
  • Monday, April 2, 8pm:  Big Band Showdown (Center for the Arts, Purchase Tickets)
  • Tuesday, April 10, 9:30am – 11am:  OLLI Music Sampler Class (Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 5114 Twinbrook Road, Fairfax, VA) 
  • Wednesday, April 11, 8pm: Jazz Combos/Steel Pan Ensemble (de Laski 3001 – Free and open to the public)
  • Sunday, April 15, 7pm:  Jazz Workshop (Harris Theatre, Free and open to the public)
  • Wednesday, April 25, 8pm & 10pm:  Darden Purcell & Mason Jazz at Blues Alley (Shawn Purcell, Wade Beach, Matt Niess, Harold Summey and friends! Purchase tickets at Blues Alley
  • Saturday, April 28, All Day:  Mason Jazz Festival with the Army Blues! High School and Collegiate Invitational Jazz Festival (Mason School of Music, De Laski Performing Arts Building. Mason Jazz Festival)
  • Sunday, April 29, 2pm:  Big Band Jam! (Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble, Smithsonian Museum of American History, Washington D.C.) 
  • Monday, April 30, 8pm:  International Jazz Day w/ Mason Jazz (Center for the Arts, Purchase Tickets
  • Tuesday, May 1, 4:30pm:  Law Day (Weiner, Spivey and Miller – MJE) 
  • Tuesday, May 1, 8pm:  Mason Jazz Vocal Night (Center for the Arts, Purchase Tickets)



  • Monday, January 29th, 1:30pm:  Tommy Igoe (De Laski 327C, Free and open to the Public) 
  • Friday, March 30, 3pm: Bria Skonberg (De Laski 327C, Free and open to the Public). See Bria 3/31 with the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra at the CFA:  Purchase Tickets

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

  • Wednesday, February 14:  Jazz Voice Studio
  • Wednesday, February 21:  Jazz Combos 
  • Wednesday, February 28:  Latin American Ensemble 
  • Wednesday, March 7:  Jazz Combos
  • Wednesday, April 4:  Steel Pan Ensemble (de Laski 3001) 

RECITALS All recitals are free and open to the public

  • Monday, February 26, 8pm:  Connor Holdridge – Junior Jazz Guitar (Harris Theatre) 
  • Wednesday, March 7, 8pm:  Benjamin Rikhoff – Junior Jazz Bass (Harris Theatre)
  • Sunday, April 15, 1pm:  Tomas Jackson – Senior Jazz Piano (Harris Theatre)
  • Sunday, April 15, 3pm:  Sarah Moyers – Senior Jazz Voice (Harris Theatre)
  • Sunday, April 22, 4pm:  Carlehr Swanson – Junior Jazz Voice (de Laski 3001) 
  • Tuesday, April 24, 8pm:  John-Marc Diner – Junior Jazz Bass (PAB, Choral Room)
  • Tuesday, May 8, 8pm:  Leigh Pilzer – Doctor of Musical Art (de Laski 3001) 







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.