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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 H. 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)

Robert Hurst (bass)

Edward W. Sarath (flugelhorn)

Dennis Wilson (trombone)





William Lucas (trumpet)

Randy Napoleon (guitar)

Martha Travers


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

See more department news

Leon Fleisher (photo by Chris Hartlove)
Spring Brings Celebrated Guest Artists to SMTD

Musical artists from across the country and around the world will perform free recitals and/or teach SMTD master classes in coming weeks. more



SMTD logo for eventSenior Recital: Jessica Schmeck, oboe

Sunday, November 13 - 2:00pm
Moore Building, McIntosh Theatre
Free - no tickets required

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
"One of the most positive aspects of my time at U-M was the encouragement from both faculty and peers to bring one’s own musical interests and passion to their studies. This helped to broaden my musical sensibilities and added to my understanding and love for the exploratory tradition in creative and improvised music."
Chad Hochberg, BFA Jazz Studies, 2006

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower