Laura Grill Jaye, Director

Vocal Jazz Ensemble may be taken for credit:  21M.445



The MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble (VJE) was founded by Institute Professor John Harbison in the spring of 2011 as the first and only vocal jazz performance group at the Institute. Boston-based vocalist-arranger-composer Laura Grill Jaye is the current director and coach of VJE, which has quickly risen to high recognition not only on campus but throughout Boston. Performance opportunities have included a professional recording with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble of the MIT school song and “A Rhumba for Rafael Reif,” as well as an appearance with the Boston Pops at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Professor Harbison has arranged many pieces for VJE over the years.

VJE’s debut recording Vocal Jazz at MIT: Store-Bought Hair, was released in 2015. Past collaborations have included performances with Jacob Collier, Dominique Eade, and Luciana Souza. Under the direction of Laura Grill Jaye, VJE has participated and earned high praise in a special residency with Audra McDonald, and has collaborated and recorded with The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble.

VJE sings ensemble and solo jazz music. It performs with jazz instrumentalists on and off campus, including a concert in Killian Hall at the end of each semester. The ensemble also offers members opportunities for arranging and songwriting. The MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble is coordinated and overseen by Dr. Fred Harris.

Listen to MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble live performances:

I Hear Music - Lane, Loesser, arr. J. Harbison: 

A Dandy Line - Jack Montrose (as recorded by Chet Baker), arr. Laura Grill Jaye (Produced virtually in the Spring of 2020): 

Love You To - The Beatles, arr. Laura Grill Jaye: 

Afro Blue - Santamaria/Brown, arr. Laura Grill Jay: 


MIT VJE Rehearsals

Tuesday, 6:00-9:00 p.m.



  • December 2, 2023 at 8pm in Killian Hall
  • May 11, 2024 at 7pm in Killian Hall



Laura Grill Jaye, Coach (

Students are expected to prepare two songs of contrasting styles.  One song must be "Smile" by Chaplin/Parsons/Turner to be sung a cappella. Many people have recorded this song, but Nat King Cole's version is easy to find online if you're learning by ear.  The second song can be from any genre and should showcase your voice. It is fine to use accompaniment for the second song.

**Returning students must re-audition with one jazz standard of their choice. They do not need to sing "Smile". 

Auditions will be held on Tuesday, September 3rd between 2-8pm in room W18-4309.

Register to Audition for MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble

*For vocal jazz students auditioning for the Emerson/Harris program: the E/HP Jazz audition and the VJE audition are separate. You must audition for each of them separately if you intend to participate in both.