SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC

FACULTY JAZZ ENSEMBLE

Mission Statement

The SSU Faculty Jazz Ensemble gets together voluntarily for tuning listening skills and exploring ways to refine and inform our improvisations together, whether through free improvisation or straight ahead jazz--co-led by Doug and George. Everyone is encouraged to bring in compositions, works in progress, improvisation games, etc. The purpose of the gatherings is to explore improvisation from a viewpoint that includes free group composing all way through various jazz styles. The goal is to break down habits and open up new ways to listen and play together.  

Why are we getting together?
We are getting together to further our group cohesion and trust.
To explore ways to open-up and enliven our improvisations—the free playing brings clarity, freshness, space, and deep listening, to the standard jazz repertoire.  The jazz repertoire brings history, knowledge, and attitude to our free playing.

What are we doing to address these needs?
We are exploring music games, music meditations, and various music schema to develop listening skills that are not tied to the jazz rules.
When playing jazz tunes and original compositions we are exploring ways to transcend within the traditional jazz format. The connections made in the games will inform the jazz playing.

What principles or beliefs guide our work?
We all believe in developing the skills to understand one another’s voice as players in a group context that can take several shapes: Exercises that inform jazz improvisation, free improvisation, original ideas.
The study of technique is to serve the need to say something through music. That “something” can change and be informed by the group’s cohesion.

Faculty Jazz Ensemble (from left)
Dave Scott, trumpet, Cliff Hugo, bass, George Marsh, drums, Doug Leibinger, trombone,
Kasey Knudsen, sax, Randy Vincent, guitar, Ken Cook, piano, Will Johnson, prepared piano