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Academics  

Jazz Studies Faculty

Robert Baca
Jeffery Crowell
Ryan Jones


Degree and Course Offerings

Jazz Ensemble Objectives
Jazz Composition/Arranging
Jazz Improvisation
Jazz History
Independent Study Courses

Jazz Studies Faculty

Robert Baca

Robert Baca

Robert Baca's versatility as a consummate trumpet player and his contributions to music teaching have gained him wide recognition in jazz and classical areas of the performing arts. He has received a Bachelor of Music Education and Masters of Music from Indiana University. He has taught privately in public school systems for over 15 years and has worked as a band director in the Lockport, Illinois public schools.

Mr. Baca is Professor of Trumpet and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Other duties include teaching Jazz Improvisation, Jazz History, directing Jazz Ensembles I & II, and coordinating one of the nation's largest jazz festivals. Mr. Baca’s background includes numerous performances in both classical and commercial areas. Mr. Baca has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and is a current member of the Phillip Brunelle “Plymouth Music Series Orchestra" as well as a past member of the popular radio ensemble for Garrison Keilor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” He has toured with Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett and Mel Torme and numerous others. As a teacher, Mr. Baca works with all levels of students and has served as conductor for many all state honors jazz ensembles. He has performed as a soloist in China, London, Costa Rica and Europe.

Mr. Baca is the United States Representative for the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) executive board as well as an advisory board member for the "Edwin Franko Goldman Band." He also served as past Vice President of Wisconsin Music Educators Association (Northwest Region) and past president of the International Association of Jazz Educators, Wisconsin Chapter.

Mr. Baca directs the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I, recognized as one of the premiere jazz ensembles in the United States. In the past decade, the ensemble has toured throughout the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim. In 1991 they performed in China, being recognized as the first jazz ensemble to tour this country since opening its borders to the western world. The ensemble has recorded eleven CDs to date. Five CD’s were awarded the prestigious Down Beat Award in the “Best Big Band” category. Two were nominated for a Grammy. The ensemble's schedule in the last three years has included performances at the Midwest Band Directors Conference in Chicago, Illinois, the New York Brass Conference in New York City, the Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio Music Educators Conferences, two Northwestern Regional MENC Conferences, and the MENC National Conference. Mr. Baca is a Conn-Selmer clinician and excited about the opportunity to work with any age student.

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Jeffery Crowell

Jeffery Crowell


Dr. Jeffery Crowell is an Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of the Wind and Percussion Division at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he teaches applied percussion and percussion techniques, conducts the UW-Eau Claire Percussion Ensembles, and leads Jazz Ensemble III, part of the outstanding UW-Eau Claire award-winning jazz area. Before joining the faculty at UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Crowell taught on the faculties of several colleges, including Purdue University.

Dr. Crowell received his DMA in percussion performance with a jazz performance/electro-acoustic media emphasis from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He is active throughout the United States as a performer, clinician, adjudicator, and educator with recent performances in South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

A versatile artist in many genres, Dr. Crowell's performance and recording credits include such artists as Bobby Shew, Louie Bellson, David Samuels, Henry Mancini, Joan Rivers, Lou Harrison, Kent Nagano, David Garibaldi, Buddy Baker, Glen Velez, Nebojsa Zivkovic, and John Bergamo. He has performed at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Green Umbrella Series, presented and performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, is in the motion picture "The Majestic" starring Jim Carrey, marched with the Velvet Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, and has taught on the staffs of numerous award-winning groups including the Tournament of Roses Marching Honor Band.

He is an active member of the Percussive Arts Society having been the Wisconsin Chapter President as well as a current member of the Music Technology Committee.

Dr. Crowell is an artist/clinician for Mapex Concert/Quantum Marching and Majestic Concert Percussion, Sabian Cymbals, REMO drumheads, Black Swamp Percussion, and Innovative Percussion Sticks and Mallets.

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Ryan P. Jones

Ryan Jones


Ryan Jones is an associate professor of music in the Department of Music and Theatre Arts at UW-Eau Claire where he teaches courses in the history of Western art music, world music, and popular music. He received a B.A. in English from the University of Richmond and holds both a Ph.D. and an M.F.A. in Musicology from Brandeis University. Before joining the UW-Eau Claire faculty, Dr. Jones taught at Brandeis, the Walnut Hill School, and Gettysburg College.

Dr. Jones's areas of musicological interest range from symphonic and operatic histories to American art music, jazz, and rock. His dissertation presented the first extensive study of Aaron Copland's only full-length opera, The Tender Land (1954), outlining the potential the composer's final populist work holds both for understanding his aesthetic values and locating their place within American music history. His research has also investigated issues of authenticity in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, traced the educational arc of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's early training and career in music (Current Musicology, 2006), and examined the challenges of Stan Kenton's early Artistry in Rhythm Orchestra as its leader eschewed dance music from the receding swing era to embrace concert presentations of jazz (Jazz Research Journal, 2008).
His most recent publication, "Copland on Wilder: Scoring Existential Theatre in Early American Film" in From Stage to Screen: Musical Films in Europe and the United States 1927–1961 (Brepols, 2012), analyzes the compositional process of Copland's film score for the 1940 cinematic adaptation of Thornton Wilder's original 1938 play, Our Town. Dr. Jones is also author of the Instructor's Manual for Jazz: Essential Listening (W.W. Norton, 2011) by Scott DeVeaux and Gary Giddins, co-author of the forthcoming Historical Dictionary of Rock and Pop (Scarecrow Press), and a contributor to the second edition of the Grove Dictionary of American Music (Oxford University Press).

Additional projects concern the life and music of singer Jo Stafford, social activism in the music of Stevie Wonder, formative stylistic influences upon The Police, and the inventive approaches of Sun Ra. Dr. Jones has shared his work at meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Annual Leeds International Jazz Conference, the Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini, the Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association, Northeastern University, and Brandeis University.

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Degree and Course Offerings


For the undergraduate, all courses for the jazz curriculum are open for registration. Some of the course offerings such as jazz improvisation and jazz arranging/composition have prerequisites, so be sure to check the course bulletin or call the jazz studies office. If a student has had previous improvisational experience, it is possible for the jazz studies faculty to waive all prerequisites.

Although there are numerous opportunities for participation in jazz courses and ensembles, there is no major in the jazz studies area for undergraduates. We encourage all students who are interested in jazz to select either performance, music education, or theory/composition as their major area. It is important that undergraduates have a solid background in classical fundamentals and musicianship. The jazz studies area supports this concept. All areas in the UW-Eau Claire music department encourage their students to participate in the jazz area upon entering UW-Eau Claire as an incoming freshman or transfer student.

Jazz Ensemble Objectives

We are more than just an ensemble!  The final grade is determined by how well the student meets the following course objectives.

Objective 1
Each student will exhibit a professional attitude and behavior during rehearsals and performances.  These attitudes are generally associated and demonstrated by successful professional musicians and this class prepares the student for professional playing.

Why?

To perform with the highest degree of musicianship
To develop an attitude of support and respect for others in sectionals
So less experienced improvisers can experiment in a non-threatening environment

Objective 2
Each student will become an independent thinker and self-motivated worker while becoming a team player, participating in sectionals and helping other students in the ensemble reach their highest creativity level.  This includes helping with band tasks and being flexible with rehearsal times.

Why?

In any career path one learns that working as a team allows the group to achieve higher goals and standards
A good musician learns that patience with perseverance achieves success
Sectionals teach that the end result is more important than any one person's personal set backs

Objective 3
Each student will become aware of jazz history and how it relates to the compositions being performed.

Objective 4
Each student will understand and perform a wide variety of literature and learn to sight-read with proficiency in the fastest possible manner.

Why?

Professional opportunities become available by learning to sight-read a variety of literature well.
To understand that to truly know jazz, one must cross the generations.
Frequent concerts are scheduled to enable this ability.

Objective 5
Each student will become aware of career and employment opportunities for post graduate school or professional performance.

Objective 6
Each student will perform with professional musicians at least once a year.

Why?

To raise our standards and remove limitations.

Jazz Composition/Arranging

Students discuss techniques of arranging and scoring for small and large jazz ensembles in many jazz traditions and styles. By the time the student completes the course they will have written jazz charts for small and large jazz ensembles as well as for studio orchestra. All compositions are performed, and many are programmed on jazz concerts.

Jazz Improvisation

This course will supply the background necessary to function in an improvisational setting. This background is merely a tool for further development and refinement. The student, upon completing the course, should be able to interpret jazz notation and tune types, be able to improvise in the proper style in many jazz settings and gain a basic understanding of rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic aspects of selections being performed. This is achieved by utilizing listening and writing skills as well as analyzing tunes and transcriptions written by the students.

Jazz History

The intention of this course is a guide to appreciating jazz. Students taking this course will receive the background necessary to understand cultural aspects of jazz music. In the course the student will learn how jazz originated, key aspects of all periods of jazz history and examine many of its key musicians. A variety of styles are described in ways that should help the reader get more out of jazz listening. Students taking this course will receive humanities credit.

Independent Study Courses

Several jazz topics are offered through Independent Study Courses. The following is a partial list:

  • Jazz Pedagogy
  • Advanced Jazz Improvisation
  • Music Business
  • Study of Various Jazz Artists, Tune Types and Style Periods


In addition to scheduled classes, special classes, jazz workshops, clinics and seminars are offered throughout the year. Usually there is a special fee charged for special classes that are not part of the regular curriculum. An example of some of the special classes, workshops, and clinics offered throughout the year are:

  • Advanced Jazz Arranging
  • Jazz Piano
  • Advanced Improvisation

 

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