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Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation


Art forms evolve through the interplay of two contrasting, yet complementary forces--the ongoing quest for new possibilities, and the continual inquiry into past forms and practices. When this present-past interplay is centered at the heart of artistic training, students not only gain optimal mastery of skills and concepts within their field, they also experience their field as a vehicle for a broader, cross-disciplinary exploration.

The Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation has harnessed these principles and emerged as a leading new educational voice. Combining the finest in traditional jazz training with systematic study of jazz's eclectic offshoots, along with innovative, interdisciplinary options which are at the cutting edge of pedagogical thought, the department offers students a variety of educational pathways few schools can match.


Ellen Rowe (Chair, piano)

Geri Allen (piano)

Andrew Bishop (saxophone)

Michael Gould (drums/percussion)



Associated Faculty

Sean Dobbins (drums)

Marion Hayden (bass)

Ingrid Jensen (trumpet)

Mark Kirschenmann (Creative Arts Orchestra)

Benny Green (piano; beginning in Fall 2014)

Robert Hurst (bass)

Edward W. Sarath

Dennis Wilson (trombone)




Cary Kocher (vibes)

William Lucas (trumpet)

Miles Okazaki (guitar; beginning in Fall 2014)

Martha Travers


SMTD logo for newsSMTD Welcomes New Faculty

Meet Danielle Belen. Jason DeBord, Joseph Gascho, Benny Green, Tim McAllister, Kola Owlabi, and Courtney Snyder. more

image for Prof. Ed Sarath Receives U-M's "Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award"
Prof. Ed Sarath Receives U-M's "Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award"

Sarath chosen for his dedication to insuring that Afrological musical traditions are presented in equal parts to Eurological practices. more

See more department news

SMTD logo for newsCommencement Award Winners Announced

Winners of the 2014 senior class commencement awards will be honored and presented with their awards at the commencement ceremonies on May 2. more

SMTD logo for newsA Multimedia Installation on Climate Change

World Without Ice installation by Professors Michael Gould, Stephen Rush and Henry Pollack helps audiences experience global warming through sight/sound/temperature.  more


Jazz Ensemble's Rhythm Section
Professor Ellen Rowe directs the Jazz Ensemble Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation Masters Student Colin Campbell  Undergraduate jazz trumpeter Joshua MizruchiReed & Brass Section of the Jazz EnsembleUndergraduate Jazz drummer Quentin Joseph
"My years at Michigan helped me to expand my creative horizons in every dimension....After graduating I moved to Austin, TX in May of 2012, got married, and am working 3 jobs which I love. I'm a performer, a music teacher and a fitness coach. My education at the University of Michigan prepared me to approach all of these jobs with creativity, awareness, and the integration of individuality, tradition, and innovation."
Billy Satterwhite, MM 2012

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower