There is nothing more American than Jazz. Considered by many to be America's only original art form, jazz pulses with the beat of a nation constantly changing and on the move. The Department of Music at Pittsburg State University offers a complete program of courses including improvisation, composition, arranging, jazz history, pedagogy, jazz music appreciation, combos and big band ensembles. These courses are designed to give the serious student a well-rounded background in all aspects of jazz and commercial music.
Guest artists/clinicians play an important part in helping our students hear and work with talented nationally know artists like Louie Bellson and Gary Foster.
Pittsburg State University receives CD recordings from MAMA Records as part of the MAMA Foundation's Music For Schools Program.
The Pittsburg State University Jazz Band and Jazz Studies Mission Statement.
Visit the PSU Jazz Studies photo gallery.
Painting by Jessie McCormick of the PSU 2010 Jazz 1 Ensemble at the Carl Junction Rhythm 'n' Hues Concert, Friday March26, 2010
Video links to PSU’s Jazz 1
Too Close for Comfort by James Bock arr. Bill Holman
Keeping current with the literature of the professional big bands of today and the standards of the past, the jazz ensembles perform innovative music in numerous jazz, studio, and jazz-rock styles. Membership is open to all PSU students regardless of major.
Audition information can be found at: Jazz Audition Information
The PSU Jazz Combos give the student an opportunity to play jazz in a small group format. Members of the combos learn to develop and cultivate improvisational skills while being coached by PSU faculty.
Courses in jazz improvisation assist the student in developing improvisational abilities in various jazz styles. Learning the theoretical basis of chords, playing patterns, transcribing solos, and working with standards are integral to this class. A minimum knowledge of music theory is needed.
Jazz History and Music Appreciation
These courses trace the development of jazz from its earliest days to the present. Emphasis is placed on the musical characteristics of each style period and listening to recorded performances of pivotal figures and jazz legends.
A course especially designed to assist students in preparation for public school teaching. It includes literature, styles, basic improvisation, and rehearsal procedures.
Held in early March, the innovative PSU Jazz Festival was begun in 1974 and has continued to grow in size and scope. It was the first festival in the four-state area to include a solo improvisation division which allows students to be individually cliniced on improvisation.
This festival features a guest ensemble or soloist/clinician. Some of the past soloists have included: the Count Basie Orchestra, Steve Turre Quartet, Roy Hargrove Quintet, Gary Foster, Jerry Coker, Tom Hart, Mike Steinel, Jerry Bergonzi, Frank Mantooth, The U.S. Air Force Airman of Note, Maynard Ferguson and his band and Louie Bellson.
Director of Jazz Studies - Robert Kehle
Mr. Kehle joined the Pittsburg State University faculty in 1978 and holds the rank of University Professor of Music where he teaches trombone and is the director of the PSU Jazz Studies program.
Mr. Kehle completed his undergraduate studies at Washington State University with both the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts (music education) degrees and completed the Master of Music degree and doctoral course work at Indiana University. His trombone teachers include former members of the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Penn., and Philadelphia Symphonies. His jazz studies were with Dominic Spera and David Baker. He has performed with the Spokane Symphony, the Indiana Brass Quintet, the Spokane Jazz Society, and back up for various touring artists/groups including Slide Hampton's World of Trombones, the Manhattan Transfer, and with Mr. Louie Bellson.
Mr. Kehle has been a featured soloist with numerous orchestras, bands, and jazz groups in the Midwest. He is also Principal Trombone in the Springfield, Missouri Symphony Orchestra, the Central Plains Brass Quintet, and is trombonist with the jazz group "Blues Over Easy." He has published articles in several professional journals and his book, "Alto Trombone Literature: An Annotated Guide" is now in its second edition and is published by Warwick Music, UK.
His memberships include Phi Mu Alpha, The International Trombone Association, The Kansas Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, and the Jazz Educators Network, American Federation of Musicians, and the National Educators Association. Mr. Kehle is an artist affiliate with C. G. Conn. He has also held the positions of President of the PSU Faculty Senate, President of PSU-KNEA, and President of the Kansas Unit of IAJE.