RIT Jazz Ensemble

This ensemble consists of trumpets, trombones, saxes, piano, drums, bass, and guitar. The repertoire typically includes traditional big band music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Woody Herman, as well as contemporary music of such groups as Spyro Gyra. Music by local composers, such as Matt Harris, are also performed.


Performing Arts events at RIT have been canceled or postponed while campus is closed due to COVID-19. To give you an idea of the types of events that RIT generally hosts, please visit our Events page for a small sample of previously-scheduled performances.

Fall 2020 Audition Information

If you play an instrument and are interested in being a part of a jazz ensemble at RIT we are hard at work planning an exciting semester with different in-person and virtual activities! RIT currently has three different jazz ensembles with rehearsals taking place on various week nights that allow flexible scheduling.

Placement auditions will be scheduled for Thursday, August 20th between 10am and 5pm and will take place outside of the student union (weather permitting) by the door closest to room A120. If you would like to be part of a jazz ensemble please email Professor Herb Smith and Karl Stabnau with your schedule and availability on Thursday 8/20 so you can be assigned an audition time and sent further location instructions. If you have a conflict or cannot make an audition time please let them know as well so alternate arrangements can be made.

Auditions for placement purposes are roughly 8 min and will include:

All Instruments
•    Short jazz sight reading excerpt (swing style)

•    OPTIONAL: two choruses of improvising over a Bb Blues

Instrument Specific Requirements:
•    Brass: Concert Bb major scale to demonstrate range (high and low)

•    Saxophones: “full range” chromatic scale to demonstrate speed and accuracy

•    Piano, Guitar & Bass: Improvised “lead sheet” comping (if comfortable)

•    Drumset: demonstration of grooves you are comfortable with (eg. ballad/brushes, latin, funk, waltz, etc…)

Please feel free to email with any other questions or concerns. We look forward to seeing you this semester!  

Recently Performed Repertoire

  • Jump Jive and Wail - Louis Prima
  • David Berger - Business As Usual
  • Carvan - Ellington, Mills and Tizol
  • Flip Top - Mike Barone
  • Donna Lee - Parker and Davis
  • Birdland - Josef Zawinul
  • That Warm Feeling - Sammy Nestico
  • Honk - Jeff Jarvis


Jazz Ensemble: 5-6:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, SAU A130

Jazz Lab Ensemble: 6:30-10:10 p.m. Wednesdays, SAU A130


Students can register for this 1 credit course.

Credits 1
Preparing for and performing concerts of jazz repertoire offers students the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of and appreciation for music, and its role in society, through the careful analysis of musical forms and ideas, and the comparison of exemplary works from a variety of times, places and social/cultural necessities. The RIT Jazz Ensemble performs three major concerts a year of standard repertoire from the early 20th century to the present. Students from the RIT Jazz Ensemble also have the opportunity to play in a variety of informal performances both on and off campus. Auditions will be held to assess proper placement. Contact instructor for more information.

Ensemble Images


Herbert Smith
Herbert Smith
Applied Music Instructor (Trumpet)
Director of Jazz Ensembles
College of Liberal Arts