Jazz at PSU

Jazz at PSU

There is nothing more American than Jazz. Considered by many to be America's only original art form, jazz pulses with the beat of a nation constantly changing and on the move. The Department of Music at Pittsburg State University offers a complete program of courses including improvisation, composition, arranging, jazz history, pedagogy, jazz music appreciation, combos, and big band ensembles. These courses are designed to give the serious student a well-rounded background in all aspects of jazz and commercial music.

Guest artists/clinicians play an important part in helping our students hear and work with talented nationally known artists. Our jazz festival brings in some of best jazz musicians and bands in the world like the Count Basie Orchestra, Steve Turre, The Tom Kubis Band, the D.C. military bands, The Vanguard Orchestra and more.

Jazz Ensembles

Keeping current with the literature of the professional big bands of today and the standards of the past, the jazz ensembles perform innovative music in numerous jazz, studio, and jazz-rock styles. Membership is open to all PSU students regardless of major.

Audition information can be found at: Jazz Audition Information 

Jazz Combos

The PSU Jazz Combos give the student an opportunity to play jazz in a small group format. Members of the combos learn to develop and cultivate improvisational skills while being coached by PSU faculty. 

Jazz Improvisation

Courses in jazz improvisation assist the student in developing improvisational abilities in various jazz styles. Learning the theoretical basis of chords, playing patterns, transcribing solos, and working with standards are integral to this class. A minimum knowledge of music theory is needed.

Jazz History and Music Appreciation

These courses trace the development of jazz from its earliest days to the present. Emphasis is placed on the musical characteristics of each style period and listening to recorded performances of pivotal figures and jazz legends.

Jazz Pedagogy

A course especially designed to assist students in preparation for public school teaching. It includes literature, styles, basic improvisation, and rehearsal procedures.

The PSU Annual Jazz Festival

Held on the first Friday in March, the innovative PSU Jazz Festival was begun in 1974 and has continued to grow in size and scope. 

This festival features a guest ensemble or soloist/clinician. Some of the past soloists/groups have included: the Count Basie Orchestra, Steve Turre Quartet, Roy Hargrove Quintet and Louie Bellson.

Jazz Festival

Painting Jessie McCormick of PSU 2010 Jazz 1 Ensemble

Painting by Jessie McCormick of the PSU 2010 Jazz 1 Ensemble at the Carl Junction Rhythm 'n' Hues Concert, Friday, March 26, 2010

PSU Jazz Mission Statement:

  • instruct and inspire those whose professional goals include the creation, performance, critical assessment, and teaching of music, and to offer courses to the general student body that will enhance their understanding as well as appreciation of jazz music;
  • provide leadership within the University and the four-state region in all matters pertaining to America's musical art form, Jazz;
  • maintain and enhance an outreach and program of service and assistance to area public schools via jazz education;
  • bring nationally known jazz artists to PSU and the region though sponsorship of jazz concerts and clinics;
  • contribute to the enhancement of the cultural life of the university and the region through the performance and sponsorship of frequent jazz concerts and events

PSU's Jazz 1 Performances

"Too Close for Comfort" by James bock arr. Bill Holman

"Everything In Its Right Place" by Radiohead arr. Miley

"Its Bynne Rell" by Mishael brecker arr. Chuck Owen

Director of Jazz at PSU - Robert Kehle

Robert KehleMr. Kehle joined the Pittsburg State University faculty in 1978 and  holds the rank of University Professor of Music where he teaches trombone and is the director of the PSU Jazz offerings.

Mr. Kehle completed his undergraduate studies at Washington State University with both the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts (music education) degrees and completed the Master of Music degree and doctoral course work at Indiana University. His trombone teachers include former members of the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Penn., and Philadelphia Symphonies. His jazz studies were with Dominic Spera and David Baker. He has performed with the Spokane Symphony, the Indiana Brass Quintet, the Spokane Jazz Society, and back up for various touring artists/groups including Slide Hampton's World of Trombones, the Manhattan Transfer, and with Mr. Louie Bellson.

Mr. Kehle has been a featured soloist with numerous orchestras, bands, and jazz groups in the Midwest. He is also Principal Trombone in the Springfield, Missouri Symphony Orchestra, the Central Plains Brass Quintet, and is trombonist with the jazz group "Blues Over Easy." He has published articles in several professional journals and his book, "Alto Trombone Literature: An Annotated Guide" is now in its second edition and is published by Warwick Music, UK.

His memberships include Phi Mu Alpha, The International Trombone Association, The Kansas Music Educators Association, Music Educators National Conference, and the Jazz Educators Network, American Federation of Musicians, and the National Educators Association. Mr. Kehle is an artist affiliate with C. G. Conn. He has also held the positions of President of the PSU Faculty Senate, President of PSU-KNEA, and President of the Kansas Unit of IAJE.

Contact Robert Kehle and view his faculty page.


For additional information, contact us or call (620) 235-4466.