CU Jazz

About the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program

Directed by Ole Mathisen, the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program (LAJPP) celebrated its 20th year in 2021.

Since its founding in 2001 by Chris Washburne, the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program (LAJPP) has grown dramatically. This vibrant program now comprises seventeen jazz ensembles, fourteen gifted professional jazz musicians who provide private lessons and ensemble coaching, a visiting Master Artist program, courses in jazz improvisation and composition, and a Special Concentration in Jazz. Students have numerous opportunities for jazz performance, both on and off-campus.

Columbia’s strength is its interdisciplinary approach to jazz studies, and the LAJPP is a central part of a larger mission which sees jazz as music without borders and ultimately without limits, and a mode for the integration of forward-thinking models of scholarly inquiry with innovative teaching and community dialogue. In fact, many students who participate in the LAJPP do not major in music; instead, they come from multiple programs across the campus. This is something that is actively promoted and encouraged, as it is what sets the LAJPP apart from every other jazz performance program in the country. Our student performers are young aspiring musicians intellectually engaged in the world bringing their training in jazz and improvisation to many disciplines far removed from musical performance. They not only receive instruction and guidance on how to play on a high level, but also explore the relevance of jazz in society today.  

Jazz is a required part of the Core Curriculum which means that all students graduate from Columbia having heard the music of Louis Armstrong, knowing about his important place in U.S. history and hearing live jazz performers in their classroom. Columbia is the only university that has such requirements and no other university offers such comprehensive exposure to jazz. The students participating in the LAJPP take this requirement to an even deeper level.