The CCM Jazz Orchestra is the CCM’s premier big band. Under the direction of CCM Professor of Jazz Studies Scott Belck, the acclaimed ensemble performs a wide variety of styles including historical swing, bebop, post-bop, fusion, Latin and avant-garde. Special emphasis is placed on the idiom's great art-music composers such as Thad Jones, Bill Holman and Bob Brookmeyer. The ensemble also focuses on projects like the annual Essentially Ellington Festival sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center and on the performance of student arrangements.
Concerts have included historical tributes to Woody Herman and Stan Kenton, as well as composer residency programs featuring artists like Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Slide Hampton, Tim Hagans, Kenny Wheeler and many others as guest conductors and performers.
The CCM Jazz Orchestra has been invited to appear at numerous professional festivals and educational conferences, and has been featured on several radio broadcasts. Many internationally recognized artists have performed as soloists with the CCM Jazz Orchestra, including Eddie Daniels, John Fedchock, Frank Foster, Curtis Fuller, Kenny Garrett, Joe Henderson, Ahmad Jamal, Dave Liebman and Joshua Redman.
The CCM Jazz Orchestra’s recent recording projects have included original collaborations with modern creative innovators. In Search of Garaj Mahal is a recording of new original arrangements performed by student and alumni members of the CCM Jazz Orchestra with guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque, which was released on the Harmonized Record label in 2016. That same program was performed live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center and was also featured as the opening night main stage performance at the Jazz Education Network’s international conference in 2016. Nobody Does it Better: The CCM Jazz Orchestra Does Bond featuring trumpeter, composer and arranger Steven Bernstein was released in 2017 to glowing reviews. Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite will be released later this year.
In 2012, the CCM Jazz Orchestra recorded a live concert performance for public television (An Evening with Gerald Wilson, National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master). This hour-long video special featured the CCM Jazz Orchestra with Wilson conducting, interspersed with commentary and anecdotes by the composer.