Music Department


Jazz Studies

Jazz at MIT has a long and important history, dating back to the mid 1950s when the student-founded MIT Jazz Society sponsored concerts by Stan Getz and John Coltrane and a big band called the Techtonians began performing on campus. A formal jazz program was initiated in 1963 when trumpeter and jazz education icon Herb Pomeroy founded the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, which quickly earned a national reputation through its participation in jazz festivals in the U.S. and in Europe. Today, under the direction of Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr., the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (FJE) performs regularly with visiting guest artists such as Joe Lovano, Don Byron, Kenny Werner and Guillermo Klein and presents concerts on and off campus, playing traditional jazz ensemble music and many new works by students, faculty and internationally recognized composers. A combo is formed from the membership of the FJE. In addition to the FJE Combo, other jazz combos and a Vocal Jazz Ensemble are formed and coached as part of the MIT Chamber Music Society by Boston bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa and Institute Professor John Harbison. Instrumentalists and vocalists are welcomed to audition. Outstanding jazz performers also have the opportunity to audition for the Emerson Scholarship Program, which provides private instruction from Boston's finest jazz artists. The Jazz curriculum also includes subjects in Jazz History, Jazz Harmony and Arranging, Jazz Composition and Composing for Jazz Orchestra. Dr. Mark Harvey, trumpeter, composer and music director of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra of Boston, teaches these subjects. Click here to see the MIT subjects catalogue.




Our jazz courses provide a wide-ranging and multi-faceted view of this wonderful art form.”

Mark Harvey
Aardvark Jazz Orchestra