Drake's Jazz Program is vibrant and active with two full bands and several combos, which perform multiple concerts on and off campus every year. The Department of Music has jazz faculty that are all professional musicians for every jazz instrument.
Drake Jazz I tours regionally every year. The ensemble has won the Collegiate Division at the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Festival a total of eight times. Jazz I also tours internationally every four years. In 2018, the ensemble went to China and played for the Ambassador at the United States Embassy. Additionally, the band conducted a South American tour in 2022. Other countries that Jazz I has visited and played in are England, Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.
The Patty and Fred Turner Jazz Center is home to the Drake Jazz Program. It was acoustically designed specifically for jazz performance. All jazz classes and rehearsals happen here and it is also a state of the art recording facility, rivaling professional studios. Drake Jazz I utilizes these recording capabilities throughout the year. Each semester, Jazz I produces an album worth of studio quality recordings with video and releasing them on YouTube.
The Turner Jazz Center studio possesses a 32-channel D-Command console driving ProTools recording software. Students can learn about recording engineering and gain hands-on experience with this equipment through the MUS 144 class: Jazz Recording Techniques. Other recording classes deal with integration of recorded audio and video for social media distribution.
The recording process for Jazz I mirrors what would happen in a professional studio in New York City or Los Angeles. Every player is hooked to a microphone, and through playback, mistakes are found and corrected, which creates the highest level studio recording.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jazz I switched to recording by section with social distancing and produced seven complete videos in the fall of 2020 alone. To enjoy the video collection, click here.