Swing University Single Classes

Can’t commit to a full course? Single classes are now available at Swing University for $45 each.  Please note that discounts only apply to full course registrations, and not for single ticket purchases.

Jazz 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Jazz

Taught by Seton Hawkins

Jazz 101 Week One (February 6) – The Building Blocks of Jazz
Swing University’s Jazz 101 opens with a short overview of the development of Jazz, and its progression. We’ll also go into the building blocks of Jazz: what is Swing, what are the Blues, and what is Improvisation? In this class, we’ll help you to hear song form, and also help you hear how Jazz musicians approach their solos! Closing out, we’ll begin on the history of the music and cultural movements that helped create the conditions necessary to engender Jazz’s birth in New Orleans.
Purchase this class.

Jazz 101 Week Two (February 13) – New Orleans and The Great Migration
We say that Jazz was born in New Orleans, but why? What was special about that city, and the people in it? During this class, we will explore the cultural make-up, the unique diversity, and the interplay of cultures you find in New Orleans. We’ll also listen to some of the earliest musical styles to come out of there, and we’ll give you insight into what the very earliest forms of Jazz might have sounded like. As we move along, we’ll get into the era of recordings, and hear some of the first jazz records, and trace the development of Jazz’s solos and structures.
Purchase this class.

Jazz 101 Week Three (February 20) – The Jazz Age
Jazz may have been born in New Orleans, but it quickly moves into cities around the nation and takes root. In its earliest days, one of the most crucial cities for Jazz’s development was Chicago, as masters like King Oliver and Louis Armstrong set up shop in the Windy City and set the world alight with their music. At the same time, Jazz musicians see the rising ballroom dance craze, and get on the bandwagon by form dance orchestras heralding the birth of the big bands! Join us as we explore this crucial turning point in Jazz’s history.

Jazz 101 Week Four (February 27) – The Swing Era
The Swing Era heralded Jazz’s place as the pop music of the day, and some of its finest artists—Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, and more—were also its megastars. But what was the music they were creating? How was it different from earlier styles of Jazz? And how did it change throughout the 1930s? In this class, we’ll explore the greatest artists of the day and listen to how they changed the music.
Purchase this class.

Jazz 101 Week Five (March 5) – BeBop


Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and more built up a new style called BeBop, bringing a new rhythmic vitality and virtuosity to the music. As the big band wave was just beginning to break, BeBop arrived on the scene as an exciting and controversial new approach to Jazz. Its performance style would radically alter the face of the music, and would fundamentally change the way we play it, hear it, and think about it.
Purchase this class.

Jazz 101 Week Six (March 12) – Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, Free Jazz
As the 1940s gave way to the 1950s, Jazz developed many new offshoot styles. Cool Jazz arrived, seeking a marriage of BeBop and Swing Era music. Hard Bop sought to infuse bop with Blues and Gospel roots. Modal Jazz wanted to rebuild the music’s harmonic system completely, while Free Jazz sought to uproot many (and sometimes all!) of our preconceptions of what this music should sound like! Join us as we explore these many styles, and the innovators who created them.

Jazz 101 Week Seven (March 19) – Fusions: Latin Jazz, Third Stream, and Jazz-Rock Fusion
From its very beginnings, Jazz was always a fusion of musical styles. However, as the century progressed, Jazz began to work even more closely with other genres, giving birth to many new and exciting styles. Latin Jazz emerged, fusing Jazz vocabulary with Afro-Cuban musical traditions. Third Stream sought to marry Jazz and Classical music, while Fusion looked to the burgeoning rock scene for inspiration. In this class, we’ll cover how these styles emerged, and how they came to reshape Jazz.
Purchase this class.

Jazz 101 Week Eight (March 26) – Jazz Today: How the Music Reached the 21st Century
As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s and beyond, many styles recycled and re-emerged, while other styles sprung onto the scene in new and exciting ways. At the cusp of the 21st Century, artists like Wynton Marsalis, James Carter, Amina Claudine Myers, John Scofield, and more were offering unique visions for the future of Jazz, while stalwarts like Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock continued a tradition of relentless questing and innovation in music. A new fusion emerges, too, as Jazz and the burgeoning style of Hip Hop find ways to intermingle their sounds. In our final Jazz 101 session, we’ll examine how styles continued to develop and evolve in the decades leading up to the 2000s.
Purchase this class.

Jelly Roll Morton and New Orleans Jazz

Taught by Terry Waldo

Jelly Roll Morton and New Orleans Jazz Week 1 (February 3): New Orleans and the Roots of Jazz
Week one looks at the origins of Jazz in New Orleans, and the roots of Jelly Roll Morton’s music. We’ll explore the unique combination of musical influences that came to define the city, delve into the very first bands of New Orleans, and look at the rise of the now-mythical Storyville.
Purchase Class

Jelly Roll Morton and New Orleans Jazz Week 2 (February 10): Jelly Roll Morton’s Early Years
Building upon Week One, we will look at the early years of Jelly Roll Morton, his upbringing in New Orleans, his early musical influences, and his years of travelling.
Purchase Class

Jelly Roll Morton and New Orleans Jazz Week 3 (February 17): New Orleans Jazz Moves Out
By the 1920s, many Jazz musicians had traveled to cities in the North and the West, perhaps most famously Chicago. During tonight’s class, we’ll explore some of these early innovators, listen to their recordings—some of Jazz’s first—and follow Jelly Roll Morton into some of his first recorded musical moments.
Purchase Class

Jelly Roll Morton and New Orleans Jazz Week 4 (February 24): Jelly’s Later Years
While the 1920s gave rise to a new format for Jazz—the big band—we can still trace the influence that New Orleans Jazz had on Swing bands and even into later bands. We’ll do that as we follow Jelly Roll Morton’s career from 1927 into his final years.
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Duke Ellington

Taught by Loren Schoenberg

The Life and Music of Duke Ellington Week 1 (February 4): From Washington D.C. to Harlem
Our first night looks at the beginnings of Duke Ellington, including his musical upbringing in Washington, D.C., to his earliest efforts to establish himself as a pianist and bandleader in New York City, to his big break and rise at The Cotton Club.
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Duke Ellington Week 2 (February 11): From Harlem to Togo
Duke Ellington’s touring schedule was legendary as he kept his orchestra touring long after the decline of big bands and the Swing Era. Touching six decades, the Duke Ellington Orchestra traveled the world, drawing in new influences and ideas, and reshaped the possibilities for American orchestral music.
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Duke Ellington Week 3 (February 18): Dramatis personæ- The Ellingtonians
It has often been written that Duke Ellington’s primary instrument was the orchestra itself, and his ensemble is famed for highly skilled, unique, and long-serving musicians. Tonight we’ll learn more about them and their incalculable contributions to the orchestra.
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Duke Ellington Week 4 (February 25): Keeping the Score
On Week 4, we do a deeper dive into Ellington the composer, looking at some of his writing, examining his style, and exploring his music.
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Duke Ellington Week 5 (March 3): Piano in the Foreground
While we often say that Ellington’s main instrument was the orchestra, we can never forget that he was a magnificent and influential pianist with a deeply unique sense of style. On Week 5, we’ll explore the world of Ellington the pianist.
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Duke Ellington Week 6 (March 17): Black, Brown and Beige/extended works
Duke Ellington challenged America’s perceptions of what the big band could and should do musically, and works like his monumental opus Black, Brown, and Beige showed off an incredible expressive range for the ensemble. In our final night, we’ll dive into the extended works of America’s greatest composer.
Purchase Class

The Past and Present of South African Jazz

Taught by Seton Hawkins

The Past and Present of South African Jazz Week 1 (February 5): Roots of South African Jazz
As we kick off our six-week exploration of South African Jazz, let’s first get acquainted with musical styles of Southern Africa that pre-date Jazz, but that would come to have a huge impact on its development in South Africa. Vocal styles of Zulu and Xhosa people, the ghoema beat of Cape Town, the surging urban style of marabi, as well as a vibrant musical theater tradition all would help to shape the many different Jazz genres that emerged in South Africa during the 20th century, including South Africa’s unique strains of Jazz.
Purchase Class

The Past and Present of South African Jazz Week 2 (February 12): The Rise of a New Style
As Jazz took a greater hold in South Africa, bands initially mimicked the sounds of their American counterparts. However, as the 1940s gave way to the 1950s, uniquely South African Jazz styles emerged as artists embraced local Southern African traditions and merged them with Jazz. With these unique new styles came a new generation of artists–notably Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Abdullah Ibrahim–harnessing Jazz to establish a new voice in the burgeoning struggle against apartheid.
Purchase Class

The Past and Present of South African Jazz Week 3 (February 19): South Africa’s Exiles
In South Africa, the 1960s opened with one of its most horrifying moments: the Sharpeville Massacre, in which a demonstration against pass laws resulted in police opening fire on unarmed protestors, killing many. As the decade progressed, controls and restrictions on musicians tightened further, leading many artists to leave South Africa for Europe and America. Many would never see home again. Some of these Exile artists–including Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and Abdullah Ibrahim–would rise to become the most prominent South African artists on the world stage and the most prominent ambassadors for the music and the struggle.

The Past and Present of South African Jazz Week 4 (March 4): Exiled at Home


While many South African Jazz artists leave the country in the 1960s, many more remain at home and continue to produce music. Working under increasingly repressive conditions, often censored, and often denied opportunity to play publicly, the Jazz musicians who remain nevertheless find outlets to perform and record, and in doing so, produced some of the country’s most influential works.
Purchase Class


The Past and Present of South African Jazz Week 5 (March 11): Jazz and the New Resistance
With the 1976 Soweto Uprisings, a new generation of South Africans amplified the resistance against apartheid, ultimately driving South Africa towards an end to apartheid. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, new styles of Jazz and popular music emerged as artists challenged cultural impositions of apartheid. New fusions of styles abounded as the 1980s became marked by a flourishing of exciting new music in South Africa.
Purchase Class

The Past and Present of South African Jazz Week 6 (March 25): Jazz of the New South Africa

With the country’s first democratic elections taking place in April 1994, South Africa’s apartheid era ultimately ended. The country faced a wave of euphoria, but also a reckoning of inequalities, traumas, and scars that remain to this day. In Jazz, many new developments took place, almost all at once. Many exiles began to return home, many artists at home began to tour abroad, and a wave of new recordings come out in the 1990s that reflect a fascinating new global vision for the music.

At the same time, a new generation of artists, the so-called Born Frees, come of age in post-apartheid South Africa. What does Jazz mean to them? What is its new role in the post-apartheid landscape?
Purchase Class

The Birth and Rise of Jazz

Taught by Loren Schoenberg

The Birth and Rise of Jazz Week One (March 2) – Beginnings of Jazz
-Topics covered: The Roots of Jazz, New Orleans Jazz, Hearing the Blues and Understanding Its Form
-Featured artists: King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton
Purchase Class

The Birth and Rise of Jazz Week One (March 16) – The Young Music Is Radically Overhauled and Its Domain Expanded
-Topics covered: Birth of the Solo, Embracing of the Dance Orchestra, Jazz Travels and Audience Growth
-Featured artists: Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke, Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman
Purchase Class

The Birth and Rise of Jazz Week One (March 23) -The Swing Era
-Topics covered: The Evolution of the Jazz Orchestra, Emergence of the Swing Era Big Band, Rhythm Revolution of the Swing Era, Emergence of the Jazz Industry
-Featured Artists: Count Basie, Benny Carter, Charlie Christian, Roy Eldridge, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Jo Jones, Teddy Wilson, Lester Young
Purchase Class

The Birth and Rise of Jazz Week One (March 30) – BeBop
-Topics covered: Emergence of a New Style, Rhythmic Revolution in BeBop, Hearing BeBop
-Featured Artists: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter

Taught by Ted Nash

The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter Class 1 (March 18): Wayne Shorter the Sideman
From his earliest years, Wayne Shorter was one of Jazz’s most in-demand sidemen in the business! Artists like Wynton Kelly and Art Blakey noticed his genius early on, inspiring Miles Davis to ultimately tempt him to join one of Jazz’s most ground-breaking quintets of all time. During tonight’s class, we’ll look at Wayne Shorter’s extraordinary contributions to these ensembles.
Purchase Class

The Life and Music of Wayne Shorter Class 2 (March 20): Wayne Shorter the Bandleader
From his highly influential albums for Blue Note, to his pioneering work with Weather Report, to his genre-defying quartet, Wayne Shorter has demonstrated himself to be one of Jazz’s most astounding bandleaders for six decades. Tonight we’ll delve into some of his most treasured moments as a bandleader.
Purchase Class