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A student jazz combo performs on Moeser Auditorium stage.


All students at UNC, regardless of their major, are invited to audition to perform in the UNC Jazz Band and/or the UNC Jazz Combos (typically 4-5 combos are formed each semester). Jazz area students also often choose to perform in the student salsa band called Charanga Carolina, where they receive training in authentic Afro-Caribbean styles.

The UNC Jazz Band is directed by Professor Rahsaan Barber and meets MW from 1:25-2:45 p.m. in Kenan Music Building, Room 1201. The jazz combos rehearse twice weekly – once on Fridays between (1:30-3:30 p.m.) with a faculty coach (Professors Davis, Foureman, Hampden, or Anderson) and one other time during the week as scheduled by the students in each respective group.

Both the Jazz Band and Jazz Combos perform at least twice a semester on campus, normally with guest artists who are brought in to perform with the students. The program usually brings from 4-6 artists to campus each year.  A list of some of the guest artists who have performed with our jazz students is provided at the bottom of this page.  Please see the current concert schedule here.


Auditions are normally held during the first few days of classes each semester.  For the Spring 2024 semester, auditions will take place between Wednesday-Thursday, January 10-11, and will be held only for students who did not already audition in the Fall 2023 semester.  Therefore, students who played in either the UNC Jazz Band and/or UNC Jazz Combos in the Fall 2023 semester and plan to continue do not need to reaudition this time and only need to enroll in the respective course sign up on this Google Doc so that we’ll know that you plan to continue to play in the spring.  Students who are not continuing from the Fall 2023 semester and who want to join either or both the UNC Jazz Band or Jazz Combos need to audition for either Dr. Barber (horn player) or me (singers and rhythm section players) by following the two steps in bold red below.

Rehearsals for the Jazz Combos begin Friday, January 12, 2024 in Kenan Music Building room 1201.  Rehearsals for the UNC Jazz Band will begin Wednesday, January 17, 2024 at 1:25pm in Kenan Music Building room 1201.  Please check your emails for notification of the audition results and be prepared to attend the first rehearsal.  All students are welcome to audition.


**There are TWO STEPS to sign up for an audition for either or both MUSC 211.012 UNC Jazz Band and/or the MUSC 214 UNC Jazz Combos that students need to complete each semester.*

  1. FILL OUT THE ELECTRONIC FORM:  First, please first fill out the informational form that will allow you to designate whether you are auditioning for both the Jazz Band and/or for Jazz Combos and provide us with your contact information.  You will not receive emails unless you fill out this form
  2. SELECT AN AUDITION TIME:  Second, please sign up on one of the Google docs below for an audition time with either Professor Van Tassel or Professor Anderson according to which instrument you play. 


  • Music 211.012: 1 credit hour; Dr. Rahsaan Barber
  • Rehearsal Schedule: MW 1:25-2:40; Room 1201 Kenan Music Building
  • Professor Rahsaan Barber will audition all brass, saxophones, woodwinds, and strings for Jazz Band and Jazz Combos. Professor Anderson will audition rhythm section players and vocalists for Jazz Band and Jazz Combos.


  • Music 214.005: 1 credit hour; Faculty Coaches: Stephen Anderson, Dan Davis, Jason Foureman
  • Rehearsal Schedule: Faculty coached sessions will occur Friday afternoons from 1:25-3:35pm (Rooms 1201 KMB, and KMB Basement Combo Rooms A and B), and each combo will also rehearse once each week without a faculty coach.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR JAZZ AUDITIONS – Trumpets, Trombones, Saxes, and all Woodwinds

  • Audition Location: Room 2125 Kenan Music Building (Dr. Barber/Professor Tassel’s office)
  • Part One: Prepared selection. Each student will prepare a 2-3 minute selection for the jazz band audition. This can be a performance of a transcription, a classical excerpt, an improvised solo (suggested for students interested in combos); a bebop head, etc. The selection should represent your BEST efforts. Saxophones should prepare to demonstrate doubling abilities.
  • Part Two:  Sight reading 1-2 excerpts selected for sight reading. Grading is based on accuracy and style of your performance.
  • Part Three: Students seeking placement in a jazz combo should prepare 1-2 standards.  Play the melody and improvise over the chord changes.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR JAZZ AUDITIONS – Rhythm Section Players, Vibes, and Vocalists 

  • Audition Location: Room 2119 Kenan Music Building
  • Prepare/memorize two standard tunes. Play the melody (“head in”), improvise on the chord changes, play the melody to end (i.e., the out head), and come up with an ending.
  • Students will also be asked to sight read short excerpts pertaining to their instrument (i.e., comping for pianists and guitarists, playing kicks etc.).
  • Bassists and drummers will be asked to demonstrate different styles (swing, Latin etc.).
  • Students may also be asked to demonstrate different scales and arpeggios.

It is encouraged that those auditioning prepare well in advance in order to demonstrate their best abilities. Again, please do not assume that you will be placed in a higher combo simply because you have “seniority” in the program.


Rhythm Section Players: Pianists and guitarists should demonstrate the ability to play chord voicings. Bass players should be able to walk a bass line, play in two, and demonstrate knowledge of other styles. Drummers should display facility of several styles (i.e., medium swing, fast swing, ballad tempo with brushes, bossa nova, samba, and other Latin styles). Drummers are also encouraged to prepare a standard tune, voicing the SARAH LAMBmelodic rhythm on the instrument, and then improvising while keeping the form. Further, drummers might be asked to trade fours with themselves (i.e., time for 4 bars, solo for 4 bars etc.).

Singers should prepare for auditions similarly to instrumentalists, demonstrating the capacity to sing chord arpeggios and scales. Singers should also select and memorize a standard song to perform at the audition.  It may be helpful to bring a copy of the music (i.e., lead sheet) for the accompanist.


This page on Wikipedia is an excellent resource for a comprehensive list of jazz standards to choose from and learn that also provides background about each of the tunes on the list.

And below is a much shorter list of tunes that might be helpful to choose from, though it is not required to perform one of these tunes at the audition.

Examples of 12 Bar Blues

Au Privave, Bag’s Groove, Blues By Five, C Jam Blues, Now’s The Time, Straight No Chaser
Examples of Standard Tunes

A Foggy Day, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Alice In Wonderland , All Blues, All Of Me, All The Things You Are, All The Way, Autumn Leaves, Beautiful Love, Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered, Black Orpheus, Blue Bossa, Blue Moon, Body And Soul, But Not For Me, Bye Bye Blackbird, Chega de Saudade (No More Blues), Cherokee, Cold Duck Time, Corcovado, Cry Me A River, Days Of Wine & Roses, Desafinado, Do Nothing Till, You Hear From Me, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, East Of The Sun, Embraceable You, Fly Me To The Moon, Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You, Georgia, Giant Steps, Girl From Ipanema, Green Dolphin Street, Groovin’ High, Have You Met Miss Jones, Honeysuckle Rose, How Insensitive, How High The Moon, I Can’t Get Started, I Get A Kick Out Of You, I Hear A Rhapsody, I’ll Remember April, I’ve Never Been In Love Before, In A Sentimental Mood, It Could Happen To You, It Had To Be You, Joy Spring, Just A Lucky So and So, Just In Time, Lady Bird, Lady Is A Tramp, Let There Be Love, Let’s Fall In Love, Line For Lyons, LOVE, Lover Man, Lullaby Of Birdland, Mack The Knife, Mercy Mercy Mercy, Meditation, Misty, Moon River, Moonglow, My Favorite Things, My Funny Valentine, My One And Only Love, My Secret Love, (The) Nearness Of You, Night And Day, No More Blues (Chega de Saudade), On A Slow Boat To China, One Note Samba, Our Day Will Come, Our Love Is Here To Stay, Pennies From Heaven, Polka Dots & Moonbeams, Recordame, Round Midnight, Route 66, ‘S Wonderful, Shadow Of Your Smile,, Shiny Stockings, Skylark, Smile, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, So What, Someone To Watch Over Me, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Song For My Father, St Thomas, Stella By Starlight, Summer Samba (So Nice), Summertime, Sunny Side Of The Street, Sweet Georgia Brown, Take Five, Take The A Train, Taking A Chance On Love, Tenderly, That’s All, The Party’s Over, There Will Never Be Another You, This Masquerade, Triste, Under My Skin, Waltz For Debby, Watermelon Man, Wave, Way You Look Tonight, Weaver Of Dreams, What A Difference A Day Made, What A Wonderful World, Worksong, Yardbird Suite, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, You Go To My Head


Saxophonists: Eric Alexander, Walter Smith III, Joel Frahm, Ivan Renta, Jim Snidero, Dave Pietro, Gary Smulyan, Stephen Riley, Don Braden, Victor Goines, Rich Perry, Jimmy Heath, Greg Fishman, Jamey Aebersold, and Dick Oatts, Rahsaan Barber.

Trumpeters: Marcus Printup, Pharez Whitted, Rachel Therrien, Philip Dizack, Greg Gisbert, Terell Stafford, Etienne Charles, Joe Magnarelli, Scott Wendholt, Jim Rotondi, Claudio Roditi, John McNeil, Pat Harbison, Nathan Warner

Trombonists: Corey Wilcox, Wycliffe Gordon, Ron Westray, Michael Dease, Vincent Gardner, Luis Bonilla, Slide Hampton, Al Grey, Rick Simerly, Rick Lillard, Harry Waters, Roland Barber.

Pianists/Guitarists: Dave Stryker, Mark Whitfield, Marcus Roberts, Jeb Patton, Bobby Floyd, Hal Galper, Mark Tucker, Mike LeDonne, Randy Johnston, Phil DeGreg, and Jody Nardone.

Bassists: Christian McBride, Rufus Reid, Rodney Whitaker, Nat Reeves, Lynn Seaton, Jeffry Eckels, Ramon Vazquez,

Drummers: Brian Blade, Carl Allen, Ed Soph, Terri Lynn Carrington, Jason Marsalis, Louie Bellson, Ross Pederson, Guy Frometa.

Additionally, the Carolina Performing Arts Series brings world-class jazz artists to campus which often results in brilliant concert experiences but also clinics and masterclasses. Recent guests of Carolina Performing Arts includes:

Jazz Groups: The Dominican Jazz Project, The Lynn Seaton Trio, The Stephen Anderson Trio

Jazz Groups Hosted by Carolina Performing Arts Who Have Worked with UNC Students:  Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Brian Blade, Count Basie Orchestra, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Roberts and the Modern Jazz Generation, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Joe Lovano, Dave Holland, Esperanza Spaulding, Fred Hersch, Julian Lage, Brad Mehldau, and Vijay Iyer.

Students in the jazz area also typically perform at a variety of venues in the Chapel Hill area.