NAU Jazz Studies has two full big bands (Jazz Ensemble One and Jazz Ensemble Two) that are featured on multiple concerts throughout the year as well as the annual NAU Jazz Festival every February. Students perform a variety of exciting music; traditional big band swing from Count Basie and Duke Ellington to the modern big band repertoire of Maria Schneider and even adaptations of popular artists such as Radio Head. Many students are talented improvisers and often get the opportunity to be featured as soloists.
Multiple combos (Jazz Combo) are formed each semester depending on student auditions. Combos may range from trios to septets or larger and recently have been expanded to include jazz vocalists in some groups. Emphasis is placed on improvisation and small-group playing. Students are encouraged to compose and arrange their own music and rehearse it in a workshop setting throughout the semester. Combos are featured in multiple concerts each year as well as other venues throughout the community.