The Bucknell University Jazz Band offers students of all majors and academic interests the opportunity to experience modern and historically important literature in a traditional big band environment. Under the direction of Barry Long, performances both on and off campus throughout the year build upon focused ensemble rehearsal and concepts of improvisation. The ensemble commissions new works annually from established and emerging composers such as Fred Sturm, Dean Sorenson, Rick Hirsch, Russell Scarbrough, Kevin Lowe and Jonathan Ragonese.
In addition students frequently have the opportunity to work and perform with guest artists. In collaboration with the Jazz@Bucknell series and the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, the graduating class of 2017 will have had the opportunity to hear and work with: Jason Moran, Maria Schneider, Lee Konitz, Donny McCaslin, Fred Hersch, Mary Halvorson, Tomas Fujiwara, Michael Formanek, Ambrose Akinmusire, Rudresh Mahanthappa, The Bad Plus, Lonnie Smith, Marquis Hill, Matt Mitchell, Craig Taborn, Kris Davis, Mark Turner, Ben Williams, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Jimmy Greene, Renee Rosnes, The Claudia Quintet, Kate McGarry, Matt Wilson, Dan Tepfer, Gregory Porter, John Medeski, Linda Oh, Nadje Noordhuis, Helen Sung, Allison Miller, Marty Ehrlich, Myra Melford, Aaron Diehl, Catherine Russell, Ece Goksu, Jeremy Siskind, Pedrito Martinez, Scott Robinson, Clay Jenkins, Harold Danko, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ike Sturm, Nancy Harms, The Wee Trio, T. Oliver Reid, Andy Middleton and Steve Rudolph.
Cultural studies in jazz as well as coursework in improvisation, history, theory and arranging are regularly offered. Students are also encouraged to participate in chamber ensembles exploring improvisation in further depth.