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 Studies program (instrumental and vocal) offers opportunities for improvisation, performance, recording, writing, leadership and service. Our ensembles have performed at the Shanghai Concert Hall (Beijing, China), Center for the Arts, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Virginia Music Educators Association Conference, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Blues Alley, Kansas City Jazz Summit, JEN Conferences 2014, 2018 (Dallas, TX), JENerations Jazz Festival 2017 (New Orleans, LA), University of Trinidad and Tobago and more. Our students have won “Outstanding Ensemble” accolades, military band positions and DownBeat Student Music Awards.

A high point of students’ time at George Mason University is Jazz4Justice, an annual concert that combines the Jazz department with local law communities to raise money for academic initiatives and public access to justice.

Our students and jazz community have the benefit of attending master classes with world-class musicians throughout the year. Past artists include Eric Alexander, Peter Erskine, Doc Severinsen, Peter Bernstein, Byron Stripling, Bobby Floyd, Chip McNeill, Bria Skonberg, and more. Spring 2022, we are excited to host American composer, Jazz Orchestra leader and multiple Grammy award-winner, Maria Schneider.


ENSEMBLESOpen to all university students, based on audition






  • January 5, 3pm:  Dr. Kevin McDonald research presentation at the Jazz Education Network Conference. Hyatt Regency, Dallas, TX. Dr. McDonald will present his dissertation “Hearing the Civil Rights Movement in the Music of Max Roach.”
  • February 23 – 25:  Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble presentation at ACDA-Southern Region Conference, Duke Performing Arts Center, Raleigh, NC. Dr. Darden Purcell will present “Shaping the Sound – Attaining Authentic Artistry in your Jazz Vocal and Pop Ensemble.”
  • February 26, 10am – 10pm:  Mason Jazz Festival (Harris Theatre) – Invitational event open to middle school, high school, collegiate and community Jazz ensembles.  Closing Festival concert is the US Army Blues Jazz Ensemble! Festival Details:  music.gmu.edu/JazzFest
  • March 28, 8pm:  Big Band Showdown (Center for the Arts) – Join Jim Carroll and the Mason Jazz Ensemble for an evening of Big Band era hits! Purchase Tickets:  cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/big-band-showdown/
  • April 2, 7pm:  Mason Jazz Voice/Guitar Night at Epicure Cafeepicurecafe.org/
  • April 13, 8pm:  Mason Jazz Combos (De Laski 3001) – Director, Wade Beach – free and open to the public
  • April 16, 8pm:  Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra featuring Grammy Award-winning composer, Maria Schneider (Center for the Arts) – Witness jazz perfection with NEA Jazz Master, Schneider, and the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra (directed by Jim Carroll), comprised of the most remarkable jazz performers in the metro region, in this highly anticipated event. Purchase Tickets:  cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/metropolitan-jazz-orchestra/
  • April 20, 8pm & 10pm:  Darden Purcell/Shawn Purcell “Ella and Joe Pass Tribute” at Blues Alley.  Ticket Information coming soon.
  • April 25, 8pm:  Mason Jazz Vocal Night (Center for the Arts) – Join Dr. Darden Purcell, Jazz Voice Studio singers and the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble for an evening celebrating Jazz Standards and Great American Songbook hits. Purchase Tickets:  cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/mason-jazz-vocal-night/
  • April 27, 8pm:  Jazz Workshop (De Laski 3001) – Director, John Kocur – free and open to the public
  • April 30, 8pm:  International Jazz Day (Center for the Arts) Purchase Tickets:  cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/international-jazz-day/
  • May 4, 8pm:  Steel Pan Ensemble/Braddock Road Brass Band/Latin American Ensemble (De Laski 3001) – Directors, Victor Provost, Graham Breedlove, Juan Megna – free and open to the public
  • May 7, Time TBD:  Jazz & Wine Festival at Blenheim Manor – Mason Jazz ensembles and faculty perform. More details TBD.


  • Wed. Februrary 9, 1:30pm:  Pat Bianchi/Shawn Purcell/Jason Tiemann Trio  (De Laski 327C) 
  • Fri. April 15, 3:00pm:  Grammy Award-winning Composer, Maria Schneider (Center for the Arts) 
  • Thurs. April 28, 1:30pm:  Victor Provost, Dan Wilson , Alex Brown, Tony DePaulis, James Johnson III (De Laski 327C – Bandroom) 

JAZZ RECITALS – Spring 2022

  • Monday, April 4, 6pm:  Hannah Pennisi, Steel Pan, Senior Recital (Center for the Arts) 
  • Monday, April 4, 8pm:  Ronald Lee Jr, Steel Pan, Senior Recital (Center for the Arts) 
  • Monday, April 18, 6pm:  Allan Fogelson, Jazz Guitar, Senior Recital (Center for the Arts) 
  • Monday, April 18, 8pm:  Raymond Mason, Steel Pan, Master of Music Recital (Center for the Arts) 
  • Friday, April 29, 6pm:  Ali Rezaeipour, Jazz Guitar, Senior Recital (Center for the Arts) 
  • Friday, April 29, 8pm:  Dominique Bianco, Jazz Voice, Senior Recital (Center for the Arts) 
  • Monday, May 9, 5pm:  Charles Murdock, Jazz Voice Junior Rectial (Harris Theatre) 
  • Monday, May 9, 7pm:  Bryan Dicks, Jazz Guitar Junior Recital (Harris Theatre) 
  • Tuesday, May 10, 5pm:  Nathan Hockey, Steel Pan Junior Recital (Harris Theatre) 
  • Tuesday, May 10, 7pm:  Jackson Hollaway, Jazz Guitar, Senior Recital (Harris Theatre) 

MASON JAZZ MONDAYS – Departmental Concerts (12:30pm, De Laski 327C)

  • Mon. Feb 14 – Jazz Combos
  • Mon. Feb 21 – Jazz Combos
  • Mon. Feb 28 – Jazz Workshop
  • Mon. Mar 7 – Steel Pan Ensemble
  • Mon. Mar 28 – Latin American Ensemble
  • Mon. Apr 11 – Braddock Road Brass Band

ENSEMBLE AUDITIONS – Fall 2022 (current Mason students) 

  • Instrumental 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, Phone or CD player. (Bring adapter if your phone does not have a headphone jack)
  • 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, Phone 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
DownBeat Student Music Awards

The Latin American Ensemble is honored to have been awarded “Latin Group, Graduate College – Outstanding Performance” for 3 years in a row (2019, 2020, 2021) in the DownBeat Student Music Awards! Congratulations to our students and director, Juan Megna!






E-mail dpurcel2@gmu.edu for hard copies.


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