Listen to Jazz Ensemble Recordings
The IUP Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Kevin E. Eisensmith, is one of the many accredited ensembles within the Department of Music at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Made up of 20 musicians from various fields of study within the university, the ensemble was started in 1938 as a dance band by Mr. Valgene Roush, and later, known as “The Mellowmen,” was directed by Mr. Charlie Davis. It continued through the 1970s and 1980s under the direction of Dr. Daniel DiCicco, evolving with the changes of jazz and popular music. Dr. Gary Bird led the band from the late 1980s until 1998.
Today’s band performs a mixture of jazz styles from Latin to swing and ballads to fusion, and performs approximately 20 times during the year. With a venue of high school jazz festivals, assembly programs, and competitions throughout the state, the Ensemble, along with the IUP Jazz Band, also hosts an annual Jazz Festival, which features six area high school jazz bands, the IUP Jazz Band, and the IUP Jazz Ensemble. A guest soloist is featured with both bands.
The IUP Jazz Ensemble placed first in the Villanova Jazz Competition in 1991 and performed at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Conference in Pittsburgh in 1992 and again in 1999. For seven years, the band was involved in the annual fund-raising effort for cerebral palsy sponsored by the Franklin Elks of Franklin, Pa.
Throughout the years, many well-known guest artists have performed with the ensemble, including guitarist Joe Negri, euphoniumist Rich Matteson, trumpeters Vince DiMartino, Doc Severenson, Marvin Stamm, Rex Richardson, and Dave Detwiler, drummers Peter Erskine, Steve Houghton and Jim Rupp, pianists Ellis Marsalis, Jr. and Peter Nero, Hollywood tubist Jim Self, flutist Jim Walker, vocalists Cleo Laine, Rosemary Clooney and Kathy Wade, trombonists John Fedchock, Jim McFalls, and Urbie Green, and saxophonists Don Aliquo, Jr., Chris Vadala, John Dankworth, Pete BarenBregge, and Rick DiMuzio.
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