Jazz at Columbia

Jazz at Columbia Image

There are many opportunities to study and perform Jazz at Columbia.  Below are some key online resources to learn more about Columbia's vibrant Jazz scene.

Student Jazz Programs

For information on the Jazz Concentration, Jazz in the Music Major and in Music Humanities, and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program, directed by Prof. Christopher Washburne.  

Jazz Studies Online Website
Digital resources for studying and teaching Jazz, maintained by Prof. John Szwed.

Music, charts, and study materials for students in Jazz courses. (Restricted content for logged in users only.)


The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University






The Center for Jazz Studies
An interdisciplinary research Center.  Prof. John Szwed, Director


Jazz News and Events


Jazz at Columbia -- News and Events

Tyshawn Sorey Wins 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award!

The Department of Music proudly congratulates Columbia DMA student Tyshawn Sorey, who has received a prestigious 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award from the Doris Duke Foundation Performing Arts Awards. 

From the Doris Duke Impact Awards Website:

Born and raised in Newark, NJ Tyshawn Sorey blends composition and improvisation across a variety of styles and genres. As an instrumentalist, he is known for his skillful open, groove-oriented, and through-composed forms and for his virtuosity on drums, piano, and trombone. The International Contemporary Ensemble, Spektral Quartet, and TAK Ensemble have performed his compositions, which integrate African diasporic, Western classical, and avant-garde musical forms. As a bandleader, he has released four critically acclaimed recordings. The most recent, Alloy (Pi, 2014), features a half-hour-long work and explores extremes of sonic sparseness and density. He has been selected as a Danish International Visiting Artist (2013) and for the Other Minds Residency (2012). He has lectured on composition and improvisation at Columbia University, Banff Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, and Hochschule fur Musik Koln, among other institutions. In 2015, he will appear with his trio at Rotterdam's North Sea Jazz Festival and NYC's Village Vanguard.

What are the creative challenges you face as an artist?
"Logically extending my musical upbringing, my creative output relies on the convergence of myriad performance traditions. This type of work, however, presents its own set of challenges. As my work synthesizes a wide spectrum of genres and, simultaneously, contests extant aesthetic constructions of place; it is a considerable undertaking to garner greater visibility for its performance and reception. I aim to carve out significantly more time for composition, practice, and promotion, activities that are all fundamental to presenting and advancing the vitality and visibility of my work. In addition, it is my hope to publish musical scores, recordings, and written literature on my music to make it more known and knowable to a wider public. Finally, I seek to contribute to creative excellence by balancing improvisation and formal structure through a body of work that is at once personal, direct, and visceral."

Learn more about Tyshawn Sorey's music and follow his career on his Facebook page, his Twitter, and his personal website.

2015: An Incredible Year for the Department of Music!

Columbia University Music Department graduate and undergraduate students, alumni, and faculty had an incredible year in 2015! Below is a partial listing of some of the highlights of the year. 


Congratulations to everyone!






Nili Belkind (PhD, Ethnomusicology, 2014)  was appointed to a two-year Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities-Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Eric Chasalow (Composition DMA alumnus) is Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Brandeis University


Alessandra Ciucci (GS alumna and former Mellon postdoctoral fellow in Music) has been appointed Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Columbia.


Congratulations to our 2015 Graduates!

The Department of Music warmly congratulates our Class of 2015 Graduates! We wish you all every success on the road ahead!


Music Majors:
Ziyad Abdelfattah
Stephan Adamow
Amy Garvey
Samuel Karlinski
Yeana Lee (Departmental Honors)
Robert Lyman
Miles Oliva
Joseph Quintas
Andrew Rodriguez
Mitchell Veith (Departmental Honors)

Music Concentrators: 
Kevin Chen
Devon Mehring
Sonall Mehta
Emma Riley

Audrey Amsellem (Departmental Honors)
Benjamin Loya
Josephine Tang

Courtney Craig (Ethnomusicology)
Katherine Huet
Sophie Lewis (Ethnomusicology)
Isabella Livorni 
Rachel Susser 
Zeynep Toraman
Cecile Urmenyhazi (Ethnomusicology)

Shannon Garland
Melissa Gonzalez
David Gutkin
Jonathan "Toby" King
Ashley Nail
Martha Newland
Alexander Rothe

DMA in Composition
Sophia "Zosha" di Castri
Geoffrey Holbrook
Yoshiaki Onishi


Vilde Aaslid and Matthew Goodheart Appointed as Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows

The Department has appointed Vilde Aaslid and Matthew Goodheart as Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows for 2015-17. 
Vilde Aaslid is an interdisciplinary music scholar with interests in text and improvisation. She completed her PhD in Critical and Comparative Studies in Music at the University of Virginia in 2014, supported by a Jefferson Scholars Foundation fellowship. Her current book project examines the cultural and aesthetic interrelation of improvised music and poetry, building on her dissertation on jazz poetry intersection. Her work on Charles Mingus recently appeared in the Journal of the Society for American Music. She is also an active performer of the Norwegian hardanger fiddle and practitioner of traditional Norwegian singing and dancing.
Matthew Goodheart is a composer, improviser, and sound artist who completed a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in 2013. Following an early career as a free-jazz pianist, he has developed a wide body of work that explores the relationships between performer, instrument, and listener. His diverse creations range from large-scale microtonal compositions to open improvisations to immersive sound installations - all unified by the analytic techniques and performative methodologies that bring forth the unique and subtle acoustic properties of individual musical instruments. Goodheart's approach results in a "generative foundation" for exploring issues of perception, technology, cultural ritual, and the psycho-physical impact of acoustic phenomena. He has won numerous awards and honors, including the 2014 Berlin Prize, and a 2013-14 Fulbright Grant to the Czech Republic where he worked with the historic quartertone pianos designed by Alois Haba.

PhD Alumnus Nicholas Higgins Appointed Guest Faculty at Sarah Lawrence College!

The Department of Music warmly congratulates Dr. Nicholas (Niko) Higgins, (PhD, Ethnomusicology, 2013), who has been appointed to a (renewable) Guest Faculty position at Sarah Lawrence College.

Dr. Higgins' PhD dissertation is entitled "Confusion in the Karnatic Capital: Fusion in Chennai, India."  It was advised by Prof. Christopher Washburne.  Dr. Higgins has previously taught at Columbia University and at The New School.

PhD Alumnus Aaron Johnson Appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Aaron Johnson (Ph.D., Historical Musicology, 2014) will be joining the Department of Music at the University of Pittsburgh in fall 2015 as Assistant Professor of Music in Jazz Studies. In 2014-15 he was Visiting Assistant Professor at Bates College. 

After a career as an electrical engineer with Telcordia and a jazz performer (low brass) in New York, Johnson returned to academia and completed a degree in musicology with a dissertation entitled "Jazz and Radio in the United States: Mediation, Genre, and Patronage" (Columbia University, 2014). He was the reviews editor for Current Musicology, has presented papers in the United States and the United Kingdom, and has published an article in Musical Quarterly on Duke Ellington's radio broadcasts. While at Columbia he won the Meyerson Award for excellence in teaching Music Humanities.

MPP Spring 2015 Concerts (4/2-5/3)

Music Performance Program at Columbia University
Magdalena Stern-Baczewska, Director


Spring 2015 Student Concerts


April 22nd - World Music Concert, Union Theological Seminary, Social Hall
Bluegrass Ensemble directed by James Kerr, 7pm
Klezmer Ensemble directed by Jeff Warschauer, 8pm
Middle Eastern Ensemble directed by Amir Elsaffar, 9pm

April 22nd - "Concert Spirituals and the Black Soprano," featuring Magdalena Baczewska- piano, Marti Newland - soprano, and Paul T. Kwami - organ. Panel discussion to follow.
St Paul's Chapel, Columbia University, 7-9pm

Professor George E. Lewis to receive honorary Doctor of Music degree from the University of Edinburgh


The Department of Music warmly congratulates Professor George E. Lewis, Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music, who will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Edinburgh on June 27, 2015.

You can read more about Professor Lewis's work and accomplishments on his faculty bio, and see the full list of University of Edinburgh honorary graduates here.


DMA Alumna Courtney Bryan's "Sanctum" Premieres at Jazz at Lincoln Center

DMA Alumna Courtney Bryan's American Composers Orchestra commission, Sanctum, will have its world premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center in "Blues Symphony & Beyond" on April 9th!

As the Jazz event listing describes it: "The world premiere of Sanctum by Courtney Bryan, a New Orleans-based composer, pianist, organist, and band-leader, and alumna of ACO's Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, explores improvisation in Holiness-preaching traditions."

You can read recent interviews with Dr. Bryan about this premiere: ACO Sound Advice blog and All About Jazz magazine.

Current Musicology turns 50: A New Website and Conference! (CDRS Blog)

Cross-posted from the blog of the The Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS)



Current Musicology turns 50: A New Website and Conference

The Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) is pleased to have partnered with Current Musicology, a leading journal for scholarly research on music, to launch their new website at currentmusicology.columbia.edu.

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