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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


Bob James
U-M Homecoming Features Star-Studded Free Events

Homecoming weekend (Oct. 30-Nov. 2) to feature free concerts and events with celebrated SMTD alums. more

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Anisha Nandi, from The Michigan Daily, sat down with professor Michael Gould to talk about his "Remember Me" show. The video can be seen on the Michigan Daily website.

See more department news

George Gershwin at piano that was donated to SMTD. (Photo courtesy of the Ira Gershwin Archive)
U-M Unveils Historic Gershwin Piano at Free Public Concert

A fully restored 1933 Model A Steinway piano, previously belonging to George Gershwin, will be unveiled at a free public concert in Hill Auditorium on Friday, October 10 at 8:30 p.m. more

SMTD logo for newsSMTD Welcomes New Faculty

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



image for Collage ConcertCollage Concert

Saturday, January 17 - 8:00pm
Hill Auditorium
Reserved seating $28/$22/$10 with student ID

image for Don Chisholm Vocal Jazz Masterclass: Sunny WilkinsonDon Chisholm Vocal Jazz Masterclass: Sunny Wilkinson

January 18 - February 22
Stearns Building, Cady Room
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