CMS Jazz Combos


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.


MIT CMS Jazz Combos    FALL 2020

Though adherence to Covid-19 safety precautions alters the typical MIT Jazz Combo offering for Fall 2020, the course remains committed to providing ALL participating students substantial educational experiences studying and performing small jazz ensemble repertoire. Three Jazz Combos are formed under the auspices of theMIT Chamber Music Society. They include approximately20 students ranging from intermediate to advanced levels.

Online experiences may include: live streamed rehearsals; virtual performances; study of audio/video instrumental recording production techniques; arranging/composing for small jazz ensemble; improvisation study; and masterclasses by internationally renowned musicians. 

On campus students’ in-personexperience may include live rehearsals and streamed performances of traditional and newly composed works, in addition to the opportunity to participate in all online activities. 

Meeting times/Rehearsals

Groups meet twice per week, once with the coach: Monday, Evening Times TBD

90 minutes, a combination of synchronous and asynchronous, allowing for flexibility, with accommodations for Time Zones.

NOTE:  Meeting times subject to change

Virtual/Live Streamed Concerts TBD

Watch and listen to CMS Jazz Combo live performances:

Lenore by Chick Corea

Bounce by Nate Smith, arr. Sahin Naqvi, '18



Dr. Frederick Harris, Music Director, Festival Jazz Ensemble, and Administrator for MTA Jazz Performance (

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


All MIT saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and rhythm section instrumentalists, as well as ANY other instrumentalists or vocalists with interest, are encourage to audition. Local students, MIT community members and alumni, and non-MIT community members also are welcome to audition.

MIT and Wellesley College students may take CMS Jazz Combos for 6 units of credit.


RETURNING MIT CMS Jazz Combo students do NOT need to Audition

However, they should contact  Keala Kaumeheiwa at by February 3 regarding their intention to continue.


NEW students auditioning for CMS Combos will do a Zoom audition w/ Fred Harris

Auditions will be 12 minutes, live over Zoom. They will be held January 28 & 29 and February 8. 

The Zoom audition will include:

  1. A three-minute example of a piece of your choosing of two short stylistically contrasting pieces (a ballad and a swing/bebop composition for example). You are encouraged but not required to demonstrate improvisation.
  2.  Prepare the given excerpt from the piece Wyrgly by Maria Schneider.
    1. Parts to Wyrgly  here.  Sample recording of Wyrgly here.
    2. You may choose any part you wish (i.e. Trumpet 1, 2, 3, etc.)
    3. NOTE:If you are ONLY interested in CMS Jazz Combos, the Wyrgly excerpt is optional.
  3. Brief sight-reading.  

(Bassist, Guitarist, and Drummers may be asked to demonstrate basic swing and funk/latin grooves/chord progressions)

*If none of the available audition times work for you, contact Dr. Harris ( directly to set up a time.  

*If access to instruments (particularly in the case of rhythm section players) is problematic for you to audition, you may share older video/audio examples of your playing. 


If you have questions about the ensemble, concerts, or audition requirements, contact Fred Harris at If you have any questions/concerns or need assistance with the virtual audition, submitting materials, needing access to an instrument, etc., contact CMS manager Andy Wilds at