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Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives

About the Program

The Jazz Studies Program at the University of the District of Columbia has steadily and impressively developed into an outstanding program that has consistently provided a stimulating environment for the study and appreciation of this art form. In addition to the Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies, which has been offered since 1984, the program is an important component of all other music degree and professional programs that have trained and nurtured talented musicians over the years.

UDC Jazz Ensembles

The Jazz Studies Program at the University of the District of Columbia has produced premier collegiate jazz ensembles that are recognized throughout the Washington, D.C. community. The program has an established events calendar (JAZZAlive) that culminates each year with the Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival, renamed in 2005 in memory of Calvin Jones. The UDC Jazz Ensemble has firmly established its reputation at this annual event that is produced by the Jazz Studies Program and the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. BET on Jazz taped the 1998 festival and aired the program on Jazz Scene. Washington D.C.’s “Jazz Messenger,” WPFW 89.3 FM, has broadcast the festival live and UDC Cable Television in cooperation with the D.C. Office of Cable Television has taped the festival for broadcast on UDC Cable Television. These broadcasts continue to give well-deserved exposure to a festival that has been overwhelmingly supported by area audiences since 1987 and remains one of the most anticipated events on Washington, D.C.’s jazz calendar.

In addition to concert appearances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (A Showcase of the University of the District of Columbia Jazz Studies Program; A Musical Showcase of the Diversity of Talent at the Historically African-American Colleges and Universities; and Black Composers Salute the Black Colleges and Universities), and at the jazz club, Blues Alley, the UDC Jazz Ensembles have performed to appreciative audiences outside the District of Columbia.  The ensembles have been featured in concert at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing & Cultural Arts Complex in Columbus, Ohio, and at the East Carolina Jazz Festival in Greenville, North Carolina.

The program has a rich history of involvement in cultural and outreach activities and routinely goes into the community for performances at area schools, government and civic organizations, community centers and senior citizen organizations. It serves a diverse population and encourages the participation of aspiring musicians from all age groups and backgrounds.

Calvin Jones, a legendary figure in the Washington, D.C., community as a performer, composer-arranger, and educator, was professor of music at the University of the District of Columbia and director of Jazz Studies from 1976 until his death in 2004. A trombonist of national recognition, he performed at the Wolf Trap Jazz Festival, the Beale Street Jazz Festival, with the Howard University Jazz Repertory Orchestra, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and was a member of the orchestra of the legendary Howard Theatre and the original Ray Charles Big Band. He was also an accomplished pianist and bassist who could be heard in a variety of performances, clinics and workshops throughout the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. As a composer/arranger, Mr. Jones produced an extensive selection of works. The UDC Jazz Ensembles owe their unique sound to the many compositions and arrangements Calvin Jones wrote especially for the groups.

Allyn Johnson is currently director of the Jazz Studies Program. He served for over six years as adjunct professor of music in jazz studies after Calvin Jones chose him as his colleague and assistant director. A pianist of national recognition, he is one of the most sought-after musicians by the revered musical giants as well the “young lions” of his generation.  He was chosen for the highly competitive Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Kennedy Center Jazz Residency for Young Artists in 2001 and taught in the 2002 Jazz Ahead program. He was the first recipient of the Felix E. Grant Scholarship award in jazz performance. As a composer-arranger, he has a growing library of works for ensembles of varying sizes and instrumentation. Under his direction, the UDC Jazz Studies program will continue Calvin Jones’s rich legacy.

Recordings include Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival—2007, 2006 & 2005 (DVDs); JAZZAlive—The Legacy Continues 2006; The House That Jones Built 2005 (DVDs); UDC Jazz Ensemble ’93; UDC Small Jazz Ensembles ’90; UDC Jazz Ensemble ’88; and In the Lion’s Den.

Location: Music Program
Van Ness Campus – Building 46-West
4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Phone 202.274.5803  FAX 202.274.5817


Donations to the UDC Jazz Studies Program can be processed securely online by selecting Jazz Studies Program at the UDC Foundation.