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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)

Andrew Bishop (saxophone)

Michael Gould (drums/percussion)


Associated Faculty

Sean Dobbins (drums)

Marion Hayden (bass)

Mark Kirschenmann (Creative Arts Orchestra)

Benny Green (piano)

Robert Hurst (bass)

Edward W. Sarath

Dennis Wilson (trombone)



Cary Kocher (vibes)

William Lucas (trumpet)

Miles Okazaki (guitar)

Martha Travers


Moore Building's new Brehm Pavilion (photo: Michigan Photography, Eric Bronson)
E.V. Moore Building reopens following $29.5 million renovation and expansion

SMTD's Earl V. Moore Building reopens, introduces brand new Brehm Pavilion. more

William and Delores Brehm (photo by Mark Mastropietro)
SMTD Receives $1 Million Gift for Pianos From William and Delores Brehm

Lead donors to the Moore Building renovation and expansion make additional gift to outfit the building with new pianos.  more

See more department news

SMTD logo for newsSMTD Receives Quick Win/Discovery Grant for Cultural Entrepreneurship Project

University grant will support program to help performing arts students develop entrepreneurial skills in the transformed cultural landscape of the 21st century. more



SMTD logo for eventDave Liebman Quartet Masterclass

Monday, October 12 - 6:00pm
Earl V. Moore Building, Carolyn and Milton Kevreson Rehearsal Hall
Free - no tickets required

SMTD logo for eventJazz Masterclass/Performance: Tim Berne and Decay

Friday, October 23 - 3:00pm
Stearns Building, Cady Room
Free - no tickets required

See more department events

SMTD logo for eventDon Chisholm Jazz Vocal Masterclass Series

September 27 - November 22
Stearns Building, Cady Room
Free - no tickets required

SMTD logo for eventJazz Lab Ensemble

Wednesday, October 28 - 8:00pm
Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.), Auditorium
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
"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