Jazz Orchestra

Juan Tony Guzmán
Juan Tony Guzmán

Whether they’re swinging to the tunes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, making a Brazilian samba come alive, or simply laying down a heavy funk groove, the musicians of the “Superband” (as director Dr. Juan Tony Guzmán calls the ensemble) are guaranteed to make any space alive with musical energy.

Students interested in performing with a combo only, should still sign up for an audition time, but do not need to prepare the audition excerpts for placement in a big band. Instead, be ready to play the melody and improvise on two jazz standards in contrasting styles. Those who plan to participate in a combo for the first time should prepare a piece in any style that demonstrates your musical ability. Based on the auditions, Jon Ailabouni and Tony Guzman will make recommendations for combo placement. Final groups will be formed by the students during the first two weeks of class. A jam session will take place on Saturday, August 5 from 1-2 p.m. in the Sperati Band Room for everyone interested in combos to meet and play together.

As one of Luther’s four major touring ensembles, the Jazz Orchestra travels annually and tours abroad every four years—most recently in 2012 to Brazil, where it was featured in the “Festival No Improviso” in Curitiba and performed for packed audiences in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The band also performed live on Brazilian national radio in 2008 and in 2004 and 2000 traveled to the Dominican Republic, sponsored by the Dominican Republic President’s Council of Culture and the National System of Youth Symphony Orchestras. The band will travel to Brazil again in 2016, this time to the northeastern region of the country.

In addition to regular performances on the Luther College campus, the Jazz Orchestra has been featured at the Iowa Jazz Championships and Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference. Guest artists and clinicians include the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Dick Oatts and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Joshua Redman, Brian Blade, Christian McBride, and Brazilian blues/soul pianist, Ari Borger. The Luther College Center Stage Series frequently includes the professional jazz artists on its performance line-up.

The Jazz Orchestra has recorded three albums:  Aquarela (2013), Transformations (2011) and On the Move (2003). Aquarela and Transformations CDs are available for purchase through the Luther College Book Shop. Aquarela can be downloaded through CD Baby.

Students of jazz at Luther have the opportunity to participate in two jazz bands, a vocal jazz ensemble, and jazz combos, register for studio lessons in improvisation, and take courses in jazz improvisation, composition, arranging, and history.

Jazz Orchestra is conducted by Juan Tony Guzman.

Auditions for Jazz Orchestra are held annually.

Jazz Orchestra rehearses MWF 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. and TTh 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Rehearsal location for Jazz Ensembles is in the Orchestra Room.


Sample Audio

Um a Zero (1x0)
Composed by Pixinguinha and Benedicto Lacerda
Listen to sample

Goin' to Chicago
Composed by Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing
Solos: Annie Kuttler, Elliot Ostrowski
Listen to sample