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.
As one of Luther’s four major touring ensembles, the Jazz Orchestra travels annually and tours abroad every four years—most recently in May 2016 to Brazil for a three-week, 13 performance immersion in the musical cultures of Rio de Janeiro and the northeastern states of Paraíba, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande do Norte. The ensemble will return to Brazil in May 2020.
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 on campus in recent years include Danilo Pérez, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Luciana Souza, Kenny Barron, David Sanchez, and Kurt Elling. The Luther College Center Stage Series and Music Department regularly include professional jazz artists on their performance calendars.
The Jazz Orchestra has recorded three albums: Aquarela, Transformations, and On the Move. Aquarela can be downloaded through CD Baby. A new release, Sketches of Sound: from Swing to Frevo, will be available in 2019.
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 at the beginning of the academic year.
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.
Learn more about Luther's Jazz Studies course offerings, both for music majors looking to specialize in jazz and non-majors who want to develop their skills beyond ensemble participation.