Jazz Ensemble

UCSB Jazz Combos with members of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Members of the UCSB Jazz Combos and UCSB Jazz Director Jon Nathan with Vincent Gardner and Dan Nimmer of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra after a masterclass sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures (September 2018)
The UCSB Jazz Ensemble meets during Winter and Spring Quarter only. During Fall Quarter, students may enroll in the UCSB Jazz Combos class. See below for more information on both courses.

Fall 2020 Course Information

UCSB Jazz Ensemble for the Fall quarter 2020 will focus on small group performance techniques, jazz theory and improvisation (continuing for some from Spring 2020, new for others), and a “virtual” Latin Jazz combo for select students.
The class will meet in various times (to be determined specifically) but will generally meet T/TH 4-4:50 PM, and 5-5:50 PM. The four course blocks will be determined once students are enrolled and queried as to best be scheduled.
Block 1: For new students, or those inexperienced with small group jazz performance
Block 2: Jazz Theory and Improvisation, beginning/intermediate
Block 3: Jazz Theory and Improvisation, advanced
Block 4: Latin Jazz combo
The course number for this course is Chamber music, Music A44, A144, A244, and you must select “Jonathan Nathan” as instructor from the drop down menu when registering.
Please indicate your interest in this ensemble ASAP by emailing Jon Nathan at jazzjon@ucsb.edu. I will also be holding an open ZOOM session on Thursday October 1 at 4 PM (meeting ID: 853 9460 0095 / meeting link: ucsb.zoom.us/j/85394600095).
I look forward to hearing from you and “seeing you” at this meeting.
Jon Nathan
UCSB Jazz Ensemble and Combos, Fall 2020

UCSB Jazz Combos (Fall Quarter)

The UCSB Jazz Combos meet on Tuesday or Thursday (depending on combo assignments) ONLINE (Fall 2020) from 4-5:50 pm during Fall Quarter. Register under MUS A 44, 144, or 244.
Please contact Jon Nathan at jazz@music.ucsb.edu for more information.

Audition Information

For Fall quarter Jazz Combos, interested new and returning students are required to contact the director before classes begin or to attend first class meeting on the first day of classes. Auditions are given on a case by case basis, with the following generally expected:

Saxophone/Trumpet/Trombone/other single-line instruments: 

  1. Demonstrate ability to play a written line (chosen by the student) in the jazz (Bebop or more modern) style. 
  2. Demonstrate ability to sight read music.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of jazz theory and improvisation by playing over a either a 12 bar “jazz blues” (provided upon request) or over a jazz standard of the student’s choosing.


  1. The above with the addition of “comping” changes as you would in a jazz combo (with bass and drums), either over a either a 12 bar “jazz blues” (provided upon request) or over a jazz standard of the student’s choosing.


  1. Demonstrated ability to create walking bass lines over a either a 12 bar “jazz blues” (provided upon request) or over a jazz standard of the student’s choosing.
  2. Demonstrated ability to play in styles other than walking bass (bossa nova, samba, mambo and other cuban styles).


  1. Demonstrate ability to play in a number of styles (swing, funk/rock, samba, bossa, 3/4 swing, mambo, etc).
  2. Trade 4’s with yourself (4 bars time, 4 bars solo) in both jazz and rock styles. 

UCSB Jazz Ensemble (Winter and Spring Quarter only)

MUS A 47S, 147S, 247S 
Director: Jon Nathan
Class time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-5:50 pm
Class location: Karl Geiringer Hall 
All new and returning students must attend first class meeting. Bring instruments. Open to all full time undergraduate and graduate students. This ensemble explores classic and contemporary jazz repertoire and techniques and performs extensively on campus and in the Santa Barbara community. 

Audition Information

Auditions for the UCSB Jazz Ensemble (Big Band), to be offered Winter and Spring quarter (students are expected to continue for both quarters if accepted into the ensemble) will take place soon after ensembles are set for the Fall quarter, and will consist of:
  1. Learning/performing a part from an arrangement/composition to be performed during the coming year.
  2. Sight reading of a part from standard jazz ensemble/big band repertoire.
  3. Optional improvisation.