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Department of Music

Jazz Combo

Jazz Combo (MUSC 108)
This course surveys performance, improvisation, and sight reading objectives for a small group in the following areas: Latin, fusion, be-bop, modal, swing, ballad, rock, straight ahead jazz, and vocal jazz. This group performs several times during the course of the semester. A thorough knowledge of jazz theory, chord and scale relationships, and melodic soloing is recommended. Students may register each semester, but no more than eight credits can be counted toward graduation.

Adv. Jazz Combo (MUSC 109)
This class focuses on developing advanced improvisation skills while studying the democratic process of musical collaboration and the standard business practices expected of professional jazz musicians. Musical repertoire will be addressed through visual and aural instruction, as learning from recordings is a crucial aspect of the development process. We will be partnering with organizations such as regional businesses, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to challenge the students with a variety of venues and audience expectations.  After each performance, the community partner, course instructor and fellow students will provide written evaluations detailing the specific skills required for each endeavor. The Service Learning component of this course requires three performances off campus, which are outside of course hours. In addition, there is a formal concert at the end of the semester. Required for students pursuing the Bachelor of Music degree in jazz studies.

Rehearsal Schedule
The Jazz Combos rehearse at various times throughout the year. Fall sections include the “Advanced Combo (Service Learning)” which rehearses every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 2 - 2:50 p.m. and a Monday evening section. Spring Jazz Combo sections include both Monday and Tuesday evening sections.


August 28
Beginning at 1 p.m. (until approximately 5 p.m.)
Band Rehearsal Hall, Room A100 (until 3 p.m. then location TBD)

Auditions will consist of a prepared jazz piece of the student’s choosing and optional improvisation.

Each audition will be about 5 minutes long, so please sign up for an audition time to ensure your slot; the sign up sheets are located outside of the Jazz Director’s office, room A147. If you are auditioning for Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo, please indicate that on the accompanying student information form.  These student information forms will be available at the auditions.

You must audition and be accepted into the ensemble to participate in the Jazz Combos at Christopher Newport University.

Registration issues will be adjusted within August 17 - 26 Add / Drop period.


Kelly Rossum is an international trumpet artist, improviser and composer. He has performed everything from lead trumpet at New York’s famed Birdland jazz club to natural trumpet in Bad Säckingen, Germany; and from cornet with the Birmingham Royal Ballet to improvised free jazz in Bangkok, Thailand. Kelly has released five albums as a leader and has appeared on over 40 recordings as a sideman. A steadfast champion of new music, he has premiered compositions by Dave Douglas, Denis Colin, Christopher Cook, Peter Knight, Stephanie Richards and numerous other musicians’ works. His own compositions, incorporating improvisational and contemporary avant-garde techniques, have been commissioned, performed and recorded by individual artists and large organizations alike. Kelly’s works have premiered at the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Arts, the Society of Composers, Inc.’s conference and multiple International Trumpet Guild conferences, including Minneapolis, MN, Columbus, GA, and Sydney, Australia. He has provided original scores for both film and dance and has received support from the American Composers Forum and the Jerome Foundation.

Contact information:
Phone: (757) 594-8812

Toby Whitaker received his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University and his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University, where he had the privilege of studying with trombone virtuoso Conrad Herwig, and taught jazz chamber ensembles. In 2014, he joined the CNU jazz faculty. For over twenty years Prof. Whitaker has freelanced as a trombonist, composer and educator. He toured throughout the United States with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow and has performed internationally with the salsa ensemble Bio Ritmo, for which he also composes.  He has performed at music festivals and venues in New York, Spain, France, Switzerland, Poland and the Republic of Georgia. He was also a member of the Devil's Workshop Big Band based in Richmond, Virginia which featured guest artists such as trombonist Ray Anderson and trumpeter Brian Lynch. In 2004 he was a featured soloist with the University of Virginia Jazz Orchestra performing the music of Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Prof. Whitaker has also led his own big band and is in the process of completing his first album as a leader featuring his original big band compositions as well as his own arrangements. As a sideman, Prof. Whitaker has appeared on numerous recordings encompassing a broad range of styles, and has frequently acted as musical arranger for a multitude of recording projects.

Contact information:

Eldon Sully was born in Salisbury, MD and raised in Leonia, New Jersey. Prof. Sully started his musical journey at age 9, starting on violin and progressing to guitar a few years later. He served as sideman, Musical Director and Superintendent in the Air Force Band and Music Program for over 20 years, excelling as a fretted instrument specialist, guitar and music theory instructor, arranger and featured soloist in over 4,200 live, television and recorded performances before American presidents and foreign heads of state. He continues to perform on electric and acoustic guitars, as well as banjo, mandolin and ukulele in worldwide musical theater productions, and as a soloist and guitarist in jazz, acoustic blues, rhythm & blues, rock and contemporary gospel groups. He received his degrees from Howard University in Washington, D. C. and remains active in the Virginia music scene as a performer, educator, composer, arranger and producer. He was selected as guitarist for Bruce Hornsby’s premiere of SCKBSTD in Norfolk, VA and performs with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. He has also mentored scores of students in improvisation, music fundamentals, sight-reading and musical diversity and produced two original music CD projects entitled First Things First and Back 2 Basics.  Prof. Sully was awarded first place honor in the 2010 Roland Guitar Synthesizer Challenge sponsored by Roland Corporation.

Contact information:

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