The Willamette Jazz Collective, led by Willamette's Director of Jazz Studies and Improvisational Music, Dr. James Miley, is the premiere instrumental jazz ensemble at Willamette University. Comprising a rhythm section with four-to-six horns and a classical string trio, this select group of 10 to 14 musicians performs compositions and arrangements from across the full spectrum of jazz, ranging from the music of Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus to modern works by Maria Schneider and Jim McNeely and everything in between. In addition to a creative focus on high level ensemble communication and improvisation, the WJC places special emphasis on the music of today, with frequent premieres of original works by emerging jazz composers, unique re-imaginings of popular songs from other genres and compositions and arrangements by Willamette University students.
Concerts are held on campus twice each semester, including the annual Parents and Family Weekend "Jazz Night" with the Willamette Singers in October, the Willamette University Jazz Festival in February and regional jazz festival tours every other spring. Past guests of the program include world renowned artists such as Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Andy Martin, Ray Brown and Benny Golson.
The Willamette Jazz Collective is open by audition to all university students.