Department of Music

Jazz Band

Jazz at Brown has a history as old as the style itself.

Alumni who played with earlier Brown jazz groups include Red Balaban, '51, former owner of Eddie Condon's and Jimmy Ryan's Jazz Clubs in New York, trombonist Stan Vincent, '57' of the New Black Eagle Jazz Band. In recent years the jazz program at Brown has grown to include instrumental instruction, courses in history, transcription and analysis, composition and arranging, and improvisation, an eighteen member big band, and combos, all available for academic credit. Jazz musicians of the highest caliber such as Professor Timo Vollbrecht, Professor Dana Gooley, Ed Tomassi, Ron Sanfilippo, Paul Mason, Dave Zinno, Daniela Schachter, and Paul Kolesnikow teach these courses and offer private instruction in our Applied Music Program.

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Timo Vollbrecht

a photo of the Brown Jazz Band posing on stage at Grant Recital Hall in 2024


Central to the jazz program is the eighteen-member big band. It consists of five woodwind players (who play saxophones most of the time), eight brass players (four trumpets and four trombones), a vocalist and a "rhythm section" of piano, bass, drums and guitar. This arrangement of musicians has been the traditional jazz "big band" format since the days of the great Ellington, Basie and Goodman bands in the 1930s.

Guest Artists

World class musicians such as Stefon Harris, Guillermo Klein, Branford Marsalis, James Moody, Carl Fontana, Rick Margitza, Dave Pietro, Gerald Wilson, Clark Terry, Bill Watrous, Dick Hyman, Annie Ross, Tito Puente, Joe Henderson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Slide Hampton, Gary Burton, Phil Markowitz, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano, Bob Mintzer, Ingrid Jensen, Conrad Herwig, Eldar Djangirov, Jim Doherty, Anat Cohen, Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Melissa Aldana and Gerry Mulligan have performed with the Brown Jazz Band in concerts on and off campus.

On Tour

The Brown Jazz Band has toured. Previous concert trips have been to Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal, New York (in Carnegie Hall), London and in Tokyo (at Suntory Hall), Hiroshima, Gotenba, Japan, as well as Amsterdam (at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the renowned jazz club Bimhuis) and in Madrid, Spain (at the jazz club Clamores, and at the Unversidad de Alcala de Heneres). In recent years, the Jazz Band has traveled to Rome, Italy, Coimbra, Portugal, Reykjavik, Iceland, Dublin, Ireland, Cuba, and São Miguel, Açores. 


Auditions take place at the start of the semester. Instrumentalists will play a prepared example of jazz repertory of their choosing, execute some sight reading, and demonstrate improvisation over 12-bar blues. For advanced students, the improvisation section may be a show tune standard or jazz standard. Vocalists will sing a prepared standard from the jazz repertory and execute some sight reading.

All musicians must bring a second copy of the chart of their prepared repertory to the audition. If you prefer to bring your own accompanist or group, please let Professor Vollbrecht know. Students may also play over a backing track.

Timo Vollbrecht directs the Brown Jazz Band in a concert at Martinos Auditorium with Stefon Harris


Jazz Combos

Four combos, ranging in size from four to eight musicians rehearse for 90 minutes each week. They are coached by Paul Mason, Dave Zinno, Daniela Schachter, and Ron SanFilippo, professional jazz musicians who teach in the Applied Music Program at Brown.

The Rhythm Section of the Brown Jazz Band functions as a fifth small ensemble, rehearsing and performing its own repertoire in addition to working with the Brown Jazz Band.


  • Mondays and Wednesdays 7:30-8:50pm, Fulton Rehearsal Hall



Students may choose to join one of the department's many performing groups
Students seeking to improve their playing or singing ability have the option of taking individual private lessons with about thirty professional musicians from the greater Boston-Providence area.