Jazz Studies


As one of the first free-standing jazz studies departments in the nation, the USC Thornton School was a pioneer in the development of an academic curriculum dedicated to the one true American musical art form. With a world-renown faculty, the Jazz Studies department prepares young musicians for success in the professional performance arena. Recent graduates have assumed prominent roles in jazz and popular music across the nation. The USC Thornton Jazz Studies department consistently ranks in the top three to four in the nation in major jazz periodicals.



event calendar

Upcoming events

  • Music at Rush Hour: Urban Encore

    Urban Encore connects underserved communities with world-class musicians and emerging artists in Los Angeles. USC Thornton students and alumni will share inspiring music from experiences with skid row, hospitals and food banks.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • USC Thornton Symphony: New Music for Orchestra

    Donald Crockett, chair of the Composition program, leads the USC Thornton Symphony in this annual concert featuring original works by Thornton student composers.

    Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

  • Strings Showcase

    Outstanding students of Thornton’s Strings program present an evening of solo and chamber performances.

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Studio Guitar Showcase

    Thornton’s Studio Guitar program presents its guitar ensembles in an annual showcase.

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Drum Day

    The USC Thornton Community Engagement Program celebrates the diversity and universality of the percussion family of musical instruments. The day-long event will offer clinics, demonstrations, and participatory drumming sessions in a variety of different styles and traditions.

    Ramo Hall (RHM)

  • USC Thornton Chamber Singers and Concert Choir: Desenclos Requiem and Other Works for Choir and Organ

    The USC Thornton Chamber Singers and Concert Choir are joined by organist Weicheng Zhao, director of music at All Saints Episcopal Church, in a performance featuring the seldom heard Messe de Requiem by 20th Century French composer, Alfred Desenclos, and works for organ and choir by Maurice Durufle, Jonathan Dove, Marcel Dupre and Ēriks Ešenvalds.

    All Saints Episcopal Church

  • Jazz Night: USC Thornton Concert Jazz Orchestra

    The USC Thornton Concert Jazz Orchestra headlines an evening of contemporary jazz with Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, a concert of Duke Ellington's music featuring his famous song, "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue."

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Thornton Edge

    HOCKET (Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff) return to the USC Thornton Edge as an ensemble in residence for the Spring 2019 semester with a concert featuring Andy Akiho's Karakurenai.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Music at Rush Hour: Harp Masterworks

    Harpists Caroline Wilkins and Seika Dong from the studio of Professor JoAnn Turovsky present an enthralling and varied program of music for harp, including the music of Paradisi, Faure, Renie and more!

    Ramo Recital Hall (BMH)

  • Popular Music: First-Year Showcase

    Patrice Rushen and Andy Abad lead first-year Popular Music students in an exploration of the foundations of their craft.

    Tommy's Place (TCC)

  • Baroque Sinfonia: East Meets West

    Adam Gilbert leads the Baroque Sinfonia in a concert featuring music from Austria, Poland, and Armenia featuring students from Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan, Armenia.

    Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

  • Popular Music: Second-Year Showcase

    Sean Holt leads second-year Popular Music students in this showcase, focusing on stylistic nuance, groove, and ensemble technique.

    Carson Center (CTV)

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    news archive


    Will Kennedy

    Big beats that were hard to replace

    February 8, 2019

    Celebrated drummer Will Kennedy joined the USC Thornton Popular Music faculty this fall, taking over for the late Ndugu Chancler, a longtime faculty member beloved by students and faculty alike. Kennedy was first invited to campus as one of “The Magnificent Seven,” seven remarkable drummers Patrice Rushen, chair of the… read more

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