Jazz Studies

LSU's Jazz Studies program is renowned for both its extensive network of alumni and connections with elite artists and clinicians, all of whom regularly visit and interact with students in the jazz studies area.

Pictured: LSU Jazz Lab Band


Play your heart out.

LSU's Jazz Studies area boasts a rich history which can be traced back to the 1950s. Legendary jazz alumni, such as trombonist Carl Fontana and composer/pianist Les Hooper, have made significant contributions to America's great art form, and the School of Music continues to nurture young jazz talent in an energizing, collaborative environment.


Program Offerings


Conductor: Doug Stone

The LSU Jazz Ensemble is the premier big band at LSU. The ensemble has performed with many notable guest artists and specializes in classic and modern repertoire from the large jazz ensemble canon. The LSU Jazz Ensemble plays the music of notable jazz composers including Rufus Reid, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Maria Schneider, Bob Brookmeyer, Dave Holland, Darcy Argue, Kenny Wheeler, Jim McNeely, and regularly premieres new works by faculty arrangers and advanced students.

Conductor: Molly Redfield

Students in the Jazz Lab Band will receive specific instruction on how to approach jazz big band music with its specific, characteristic, and unique style. Repertoire is selected from significant historic and modern ensembles and composers; Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Bob Mintzer, Matt Harris, and many others.

Conductor: Student-led, with guidance from Willis Delony, Doug Stone, Molly Redfield, or John Bishop.

Students enrolled in MUS 4255 will be placed in small groups comprised of 3-6 members. In these chamber ensembles, emphasis is placed on advanced improvisation skills, mastery of multiple styles, arranging and composing skills. Students will experience a deep immersion in both the core standard repertory as well as new, contemporary music.


The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree is a viable alternative for those students who prefer a more flexible and less intensive music curriculum than is possible under the Bachelor of Music Education or Bachelor of Music curricula.

  • Curriculum includes participation in Jazz Band and Chamber Jazz, Jazz Arranging, Jazz Fundamentals for Teachers, History of Jazz Styles, and Senior Recital.
  • Requires ensemble courses and Primary Applied Jazz Lessons that students should begin taking in their first semester.


The Master of Music degree is designed to continue students' fine arts studies with deeper focus and analysis.

  • A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit (33 hours for Music Theory) is required to complete the degree.
  • Up to six hours of graduate credit may be transferred from another institution if such credit satisfies required or elective courses at LSU and is approved by the Area Coordinator of the course area.
  • The master’s degree must be completed within five years.


Doctoral students majoring in other performance or academic areas may earn a minor (cognate) in jazz studies.


Notable Jazz Alumni & Recent Guest Artists

  • Carl Fontana
  • Les Hooper
  • Jon Noffsinger
  • Ricky Draper
  • Brad Walker
  • John Madere
  • Oscar Rossignoli
  • Graham Breedlove
  • Harry Watters
  • Rex Richardson

  • Wess “Warmdaddy” Anderson
  • David Baker
  • Wayne Bergeron
  • Jewell Brown
  • Doc Cheetham
  • John Clayton
  • Tony Dagradi
  • Bill Dobbins
  • Rosana Eckert
  • Peter Erskine
  • Robert Glasper
  • Wycliffe Gordon
  • Hilary Kole
  • Branford Marsalis
  • Sasha Masakowski
  • Steve Masakowski
  • Rufus Reid
  • Paquito D’Rivera
  • Ellen Rowe
  • Bobby Shew
  • Fred Sturm
  • Ike Sturm
  • McCoy Tyner
  • Jiggs Whigham
  • Nicole Zuraitis


A Brief History of Jazz at LSU

Prior to 1984, the jazz scene at LSU was active but relatively informal, often driven and led by students. In that year, the university made an important commitment to jazz education when it hired its first Director of Jazz Studies, renowned bassist and composer/arranger Bill Grimes. Over the course of his distinguished career on the faculty Dr. Grimes spearheaded the creation of critical coursework and curricula while also establishing a high standard of student jazz performance that continues to be showcased in our two large ensembles and numerous chamber groups.

In 2000, the jazz faculty expanded with the addition of pianist and arranger Dr. Willis Delony, an internationally renowned classical and jazz performer and recording artist who is now Boyd Professor of Piano and Jazz Studies. Dr. Delony is currently the director of the President’s Chamber Jazz Ensemble.

In 2007, Dr. Brian Shaw joined the School of Music, serving as both trumpet and jazz instructor until his departure in 2021. During his time at LSU, Dr. Shaw earned acclaim as widely respected trumpeter in both the classical and jazz worlds, while also remaining active as a composer and arranger.

Upon Dr. Grimes’s retirement in 2018, the virtuoso jazz saxophonist Doug Stone, an alumnus of the Maynard Ferguson band, joined the School of Music faculty. In addition to his teaching duties, Prof. Stone maintains a vigorous, high profile performing schedule. He is the director of the LSU Jazz Ensemble.

After Dr. Shaw’s departure in 2021, jazz bassist Dr. Molly Redfield joined the faculty. She is active on the regional and national scenes as an in-demand performer, arranger and adjudicator. Dr. Redfield is director of the LSU Jazz Lab Band.

More recently, guitarist Dr. John Bishop, one of the region’s most in demand players, joined the faculty as an applied instructor.

In addition to their respective ensemble duties, all members of the jazz faculty are integrally involved in applied instruction while also teaching courses in jazz history, arranging/composition and jazz pedagogy.