Bethel College has a rich jazz tradition.
Students have the opportunity to play in a variety of small and large jazz ensembles as well as to study jazz improvisation in a private-lesson setting. In addition to on-campus performance opportunities, Bethel jazz students often perform in various settings throughout the Newton and Wichita community. Recent graduates of Bethel College have gone on to:
- Receive graduate degrees in jazz studies from the UMKC-Conservatory of Music, University of Colorado-Boulder, Eastman School of Music, and Florida State University.
- Tour nationally and internationally with The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra
- Record with top musicians around the country
- Teach jazz at the high school and collegiate level
- Work as professional jazz musicians in Wichita, Kansas City, Denver, and Milwaukee
Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I
Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I is an auditioned ensemble that performs a wide range of professional-level big-band repertoire. The group provides an opportunity for students to focus on jazz improvisation, style, sight-reading and section playing. In addition to regular on-campus performances, Jazz Ensemble I often plays off-campus and has toured to Kansas City and Colorado in the recent past. The group has received multiple invitations to perform at the KMEA convention and has earned Superior ratings at the Wichita State, University of Northern Colorado, and Kansas City Community College Jazz Festivals. In recent years the group has also performed with several significant guest artists, including Allen Vizzutti, Bob Mintzer and Bobby Watson.
- Basie Straight-Ahead — Sammy Nestico
- Corner Pocket — Freddie Green
- Little Pixie — Thad Jones
- The Groove Merchant — Thad Jones
- Blues in Hoss Flat — Frank Foster
- Hang-gliding — Maria Schneider
- Green Piece — Maria Schneider
- Transit — Darcy James Argue
- Spectrum — Bob Mintzer
- Main Stem — Duke Ellington
- Cottontail — Duke Ellington
- Central Park West arr. John Fedchock
- Some Skunk Funk — Randy Brecker
Recent Guest Artists
- Bob Mintzer
- Allen Vizzutti
- Bobby Watson
- Pat Bianchi
- Mike Steinel
Bethel College Jazz Ensemble II
Bethel College Jazz Ensemble II is a non-auditioned ensemble that is open to all students. This group performs a variety of big-band repertoire and provides students with an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of jazz style and improvisation in a big band setting. The group performs regularly on campus.
Bethel College Jazz Combos
Bethel College Jazz Combos gives students an opportunity to work on jazz improvisation, composition and arranging in a small-group setting. In addition to learning a wide range of jazz standards, students often write and perform original music. In addition to performing on-campus, these groups often play at public and private events throughout the community. In the recent past, Jazz Combo I has toured the Midwest, performing in Kansas City, Iowa, and Colorado. In 2011, the group recorded a CD of all original music.
Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble
Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble is an auditioned group made up of the top high school jazz musicians in south-central Kansas. MKJE provides students with a chance to meet and play with other talented and passionate young jazz musicians.