Jazz & Contemporary Music

Jazz and Contemporary Music

The legacy of jazz is boundaryless innovation.

Longy’s Jazz and Contemporary Music program provides an open environment in which students experiment and create to find their artistic voice and gain the experience and versatility necessary for success in an ever-changing professional world.  Engaging in improvisation, composition, and performance practices, untethered to any one discipline or genre, students will build off the foundations of jazz and explore beyond—to modern contemporary, global folk traditions, bluegrass, Rock, Hip Hop, as well as other popular idioms—to define the music of the now and the future.

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Meet some of our #LongyBound incoming students!

Your Faculty

Eric Hofbauer, chair, guitar
Sara Bielanski, voice
Leo Blanco, piano, composition, ensembles
Dave Bryant*, ensembles
Peter Cassino, piano, improvisation, ensembles
Peter Evans, composition
Jay Flood *
Ana Guigui, voice
Greg Hopkins, trumpet, composition

Charlie Kohlhase*, ensembles
John Lockwood, upright/electric bass, ensembles
Nando Michelin*, ensembles
Randall Pingrey
Ben Schwendener, composition
Neal Smith, drums
Stan Strickland, saxophone, flute
Nikola Tomić, trumpet
Sylvie Zakarian*, percussion

*No private studio

In addition to the faculty listed above, Jazz and Contemporary Music students are free to receive half of their program’s private lessons with a classical instrumental instructor from Longy’s world-class faculty.

Your Longy Experience

“Longy's JCM dept has uniquely positioned itself as an environment where open-minded—and open-eared—musicians can develop as cross-style/post-genre improvisers and composers who continue to push the art forward."”

Eric HofbauerDepartment Chair of Jazz and Contemporary Music

Program Highlights

The Jazz and Contemporary Music (JCM) Department is a close-knit cohort of students, each on a unique path to mastering their artistry and musicianship. Small, project-based courses, unparalleled access to faculty, and an abundance of opportunities to collaborate create a supportive environment that fosters curiosity, experimentation, and comradery. Highlights include:

The Jazz and Contemporary Music Seminar, the centerpiece of the JCM graduate program, gives students the chance to collaborate on arrangements, engage with faculty and visiting lecturers on contemporary music topics, and demonstrate their current projects.

Each year, the JCM department presents six concerts at one of Boston’s most respected jazz clubs, the Lilypad. The performances, called The L-8 Shift, are student-produced and curated, open to the public, and enable Longy students to present their work in a professional setting.

Each spring, the JCM department presents a Guest Artist Collaborative Concert. Encompassing a wide  array of musical styles and backgrounds, each artist shares their distinctive skills through several days of coachings, masterclasses, and rehearsals. The residency culminates in a final concert, where JCM students play alongside world-class, internationally recognized professionals and faculty.

There are not separate degree programs for performers and composers in the JCM Department. To highlight the necessity of both skill sets for 21st century musicians, students will concentrate in one discipline but study both. Although the bulk of students’ studio instruction will be in their chosen concentration, they take one semester of secondary concentration lessons (performers take composition lessons, while composers take lessons on their primary instruments). They are also encouraged to use elective credits to take more complementary lessons if they so choose.

Longy’s JCM Department courses focus on the intersections inherent in contemporary music.

At the crossroads of post-modern music theory are two courses particularly suited for conceptual expansion:
The Lydian Chromatic Concept (parts 1 and 2) explore the nuances of George Russell’s innovative system, providing new perspectives in improvisation, composition and analysis.
Advanced Theory for Improvisers delves into wide-ranging concepts—from pan-modality, to nontraditional harmonic structures, poly-tonal relationships, odd/mixed/polymeters, and more.

A cross-style, post-genre perspective on music history and analysis invites students to discover deeper connections in music language at the intersection of influence and cultural context.
American Sonic Practice
(parts 1-4) challenges the conventions of historical categorization by discussing the striking kindred elements in the music of diverse composers such as Ives, Ellington, Cage, Partch, Zappa, and Sun Ra.
Sound and Style: Rulebreakers
analyze the techniques that created style mavericks like Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix, and J Dilla, while Sound and Style: Provocateurs digs into the songwriting innovations of singer/producers like Bessie Smith, Joni Mitchell, and Björk.

The heart of the JCM program are the ensembles and advanced chamber ensemble courses which all focus on the intersection of improvisation and composition from a myriad of repertoire perspectives.
Jazz Immersions focuses on three iconic jazz composers each semester, rotating through a total of 9 composers and 100 years of jazz language.
South American Jazz embarks on an immersive study of repertoire and rhythms from around the continent.
Perspectives in Free Music investigates the methods of Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, and others.
Prehistoric Jazz deconstructs and reimagines modern classical repertoire as improvisational launchpads.
No Boundaries Big Band examines rare large ensemble arrangements.
Modern Times: Collaborative & Improvised Film Scoring
culminates with an ensemble composing and arranging a structured improvisational score, performance, and silent film screening.
The Art of the Trio explores repertoire as an intimate study of nuanced interaction.
The Folk Tradition Ensemble traverses folk and improvisation traditions from around the world, from Balkan/Klezmer to Turkish/Middle Eastern, American (Blues, Gospel, Bluegrass), and Chinese/Pan-Asian.
Flying Solo develops a well-crafted repertoire for solo performance that is a reflection of both unique personal style and social relevance.