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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Yale Jazz Ensemble?

Veterans of performances at New York City's Village Vanguard and Iridium Jazz Club, Ronnie Scott's of London, and the Villanova and Williams Jazz Festivals, the Yale Jazz Ensemble is a standard big band made up of 18 musicians (5 saxes, 5 trombones, 5 trumpets, piano, guitar, bass, drums). The group presents 4 formal concerts a year but plays any number of other engagements on or off-campus.

How does one audition for the Jazz Ensemble?

Auditions for the Yale Jazz Ensemble will be held Saturday, August 31, 2013 in Room 301 Hendrie Hall, 165 Elm Street. Auditions will include several prepared excerpts (PDFs are available for download HERE) taken from the coming year's program, the opportunity to improvise if you choose, and some sightreading. The Yale Bands has some instruments available for rental for those of you who do not have your own. Call us if you have any questions about auditions (203) 432-4111.

What kind of time commitment is involved?

The Yale Jazz Ensemble rehearses two hours per week every Wednesday night from 7-9:30. The ensemble performs two concerts per year at Yale's Sprague Hall and performs a few other off- and on-campus concerts. The Yale Bands as a whole also sponsors a variety of extramusical social events at which all Jazz Ensemble members are welcome.

What type of music does the YJE play?

The Yale Jazz Ensemble plays almost anything composed for big band, although it does specialize in the charts that swing the most. The repertoire for a standard concert might include an early Duke Ellington chart, a Count Basie tune, a newer piece by Toshiko Akiyoshi, a Stan Kenton-style latin chart, and a '70s funk-fusion piece. The group has also been known to read original compositions by its members.

Who is the director of the YJE?

Thomas C. Duffy directs the Yale Jazz Ensemble.

What else does the Yale jazz scene have to offer?

For a starter, auditionees who were not seated in the YJE are put in touch in order to form small ensembles of their own. There are many different smaller jazz groups at Yale, ranging in specialties from standards to funk to free jazz, some of which have members in the YJE, and some of which do not. Some say there is a student organization for every student at Yale, and it's usually difficult to find a weekend without some type of musical performance. Yale also attracts a wealth of professional musicians throughout the year, including Dave Brubeck, Elvin Jones, and the late Tito Puente, among others.

How do I get involved in the Yale Jazz Ensemble?

The Yale Bands Information meeting will be held Sunday, August 25, from 9:00-10:00 PM in Room 301 Hendrie Hall. At this meeting, you can get more information about the YJE, meet current YJE members, and sign up for audition slots. We hope to see you there!

How can I learn more about the YJE?

Contact Stephanie Hubbard, the Yale Bands manager, via email at or by phone at (203) 432-4111; or Thomas C. Duffy, music director, by email at