Keala Kaumeheiwa, coach


CMS Jazz Combos may be taken for credit: 21M.445



Three Jazz Combos are formed under the auspices of the
MIT Chamber Music Society. They include approximately
20 students ranging from intermediate to advanced levels.

Jazz Combos study and perform traditional and contemporary
small group jazz literature and improvisation, with opportunities for students to compose/arrange for the ensembles. Combos rehearse once weekly with renowned Boston jazz bassist, Keala Kaumeheiwa, and are also expected to meet independently. The combos perform one concert per semester. CMS Jazz Combos are coordinated and overseen by Dr. Fred Harris.



Dr. Frederick Harris, Music Director, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, and MIT Jazz Performance Coordinator (

*NOTE:  Auditions for the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, CMS Jazz Combos, and Emerson/Harris Jazz Program are all combined into one audition. Your interests in any or all of these opportunities are covered by ONE jazz audition.

Auditions for Spring 2022 participation in CMS Jazz Combos are by appointment with Fred Harris, January 10-28. Additional times may be arranged on January 31 and February  1. Contact Dr. Harris at to set up a time.

There are four parts to the audition, lasting approximately 15 minutes:  

1. Chromatic scale through your entire range.

2. Sight-reading. Rhythm Section players (Piano/Vibes/Guitar/Bass/Drums) **see note below

3. Two short stylistically contrasting pieces (a ballad and a swing/bebop composition for example). You are encouraged but not required to demonstrate your improvisational ability. Please provide your own recorded accompaniments if possible. If you need playback equipment for recorded accompaniments, please note this request in your audition form and describe what exactly you need.

4. Prepare the posted piece, Down a Rabbit Hole, appropriate to your instrument here.  You will be asked to play excerpts from this piece. In some cases, you have choices as to which part to prepare (trumpet 1 or 2, trombone 1 or 3, etc.).  

  • To hear a recording of Down a Rabbit Hole, go here

If you have any questions/concerns or need assistance with any facet of the audition, or have questions about MIT FJE, or need access to an instrument, etc., contact Dr. Harris anytime (

*Note: students who register for an audition will be given access to the 4-260 practice room suite during the week leading up to auditions. You will receive an email from the Events Office with more information at that time.

** Note for Rhythm Section players:

Piano/Vibes/Guitar:  Sight-reading of basic chord changes will be part of your audition.  Guitar and bass players should provide their own amps. If that is not possible, please inform the Events Office in advance of your audition day.

Bass:  Sight-reading of basic swing and funk/Latin charts and chord changes will be part of your audition.

Drum Set:  Sight-reading of basic swing and Latin/funk charts and performance of four/eight bars of time followed by four/eight bars of soloing in both swing and funk/Latin styles at a medium tempo will be part of our audition.