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Choral and Vocal Jazz Program

Choral and Vocal Jazz Program

The mission of the Music Department at KCKCC is to develop the well-rounded musician through theory and practice – artistically, intellectually, and technically. This well-rounded musicianship is achieved through studying and performing music of not only the classical tradition, but also in the jazz and contemporary popular styles. Students integrate theory and practice in an environment in which they become active learners through their relationships with faculty, who themselves continue to grow as artists and teachers.

The primary objective of the Choral Music Program at KCKCC is to educate the students and the community about vocal ensemble music through stylistic variety and tonal diversity, based on historical precedent. This objective is achieved by exposing choir members to music of different nationalities and/or cultures and their commitment to recreate a unique tone quality that identifies with the cultural environment of each composition. The KCKCC Vocal Jazz Program takes pride in performing collegiate and professional-level vocal jazz ensemble literature. The program is recognized regionally and nationally for performance and creative programming. Students study vocal jazz five days a week (4 days of ensemble rehearsal and a weekly vocal styles class). Lastly, most of our students in choir and vocal jazz receive a full-tuition vocal music scholarship from the college (where they can be any major, but must participate in choir and applied voice). 

Vocal Jazz Ensembles and Choirs

TTH | 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

The KCKCC Blue Devil Funk Band performs a wide repertoire of jazz-inspired funk/r&b (classic to contemporary), as well as original compositions by band members. The band was the Winner of the 2022 DownBeat Student Music Award for Community College Jazzz/Pop/Rock Ensemble, and members of the ensemble also earned Winner and Oustanding Performance soloist awards in the SMAs in 2021 and 2022. The Blue Devil Funk Band will present featured performances at the 2023 Jazz Education Network and Kansas Music Educators Association conferences, and is directed by renowned jazz educator Dr. Justin Binek.

MWF | 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

The award-winning contemporary vocal jazz ensemble from Kansas City Kansas Community College. They have been invited to perform at the national conferences of the Jazz Education Network, the American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association for Music Education. The Standard has also been selected to perform at the Southwestern Divisional Conference of the American Choral Directors Association, Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop, the New York Voices Jazz Festival, the Real Group Festival, and the New York City Jazz Festival at Jazz at the Lincoln Center. The Standard has also received a number #1 rating at the University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival. Within the last six years, members of The Standard have won sixteen DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards for Outstanding Performance (for Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Blues/Pop/Rock and Latin Ensemble), Live Engineered Recording, Studio Engineered Recording, and Outstanding Soloist in the Community College category. Two of those DownBeat awards included being the 2020 Community College Winner for Blues/Pop/Rock Ensemble and 2020 Community College Co-Winner for Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble. In December of 2018, The Standard released their first studio recording, Feelin’ Good, and the album has been played on radio stations throughout the Midwest. In September 2020, The Standard has digitally released their first single recording of Justin Binek’s composition, Reparations. In October 2021, the ensemble will release their second studio album, entitled Coal and Diamonds. Their third album, La Fiesta will be released in early 2023. The group has shared the stage with such highly acclaimed artists as Take 6, The New York Voices, m-pact, saje, Carmen Bradford, Dianne Reeves, Marilyn Maye, Josh Groban and Michael Buble. 

Video performance of the "The Standard" Vocal Jazz Ensemble

MWF | 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Fusion is an auditioned vocal jazz group that is in it 12th year of existence. The focus of the ensemble is to study performance practice of different contemporary musical styles. Fusion received a number #2 rating at the 2015 University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival. They have also performed at the Millikin University Vocal Jazz Festival, the North Central ACDA Vocal Jazz Festival, the The Real Group Festival and the JENerations Jazz Festival at the National Conference of the Jazz Education Network. 

Video performance of Fusion Vocal Ensemble

Mondays only in June and July | 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Summer Jazz Choir is our community jazz choir that meets for 8 rehearsals every summer and presents one performance in early August. Open to members of the community wishing to sing in a choir once a week, ages range from high school upperclassmen to older adults. 

Video performance of the Summer Jazz Choir

MWF | 12:00 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

KCKCC’s Chamber Choir is a 40+ voice auditioned ensemble specializing in choral music from the 20th and 21st century. The choir performs twice a semester and has collaborated with multiple fine arts organizations in the KC Metro, including The Midwest Chamber Ensemble, William Jewell College, and the Hannover Jazz Orchestra from Germany. The choir is known for their approach to choral tone and has also performed at the Kansas Music Education Association In-Service Workshop. 

Video performance of the Chamber Choir
Mondays only (Fall and Spring Semesters only) | 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Open to adult members of the community wishing to sing in an intermediate to advanced jazz choir once a week. Community Jazz Choir performs at with our other jazz ensembles twice a semester. 

Video performance of the Community Chamber Choir

Music Festivals at KCKCC

M-pact Vocal Festival
M-pact Vocal Festival

The M-PACT Festival is a non-competitive festival where vocal jazz ensembles, contemporary a cappella groups and other small choral ensembles have the opportunity to work hands-on with the award-winning group.

More about the festival

The Kansas City Jazz Summit
The Kansas City Jazz Summit

The Kansas City Jazz Summit provides an educational performance opportunity for middle school, high school and college jazz bands, combos and jazz choirs and takes place in April each year at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

More about the Jazz Summit

Music Scholarships

Our music department offers a three-year, full-tuition vocal music scholarship. The award covers tuition only, not books or fees. Also, the award is only for fall and spring semesters (it is not offered for summer semester). Students can be any major, but preference will be given to music majors. 

Requirements are the following: 

  • Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA. 
  • Students are required to take choir, applied voice lessons, vocal jazz ensemble (depending on fall auditions), and at least one semester of music theory.

Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Scholarship

In the fall semester of 2020, with the aid of Dr. Justin Binek, KCKCC and the Ella Fitzgerald Memorial Foundation established a new collaborative relationship by offering a full scholarship for one deserving KCKCC jazz student. 

Notable Highlights

  • 48 Student Music Awards from Downbeat Magazine 
  • 8 performances at the Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop
  • 2020 Southwestern Divisional Conference of the American Choral Directors Association 
  • 2023, 2022 and 2019 National Conference of the Jazz Education Network 
  • 2018 National Conference of the National Association for Music Education
  • 2017 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association
  • #1 Rating at the 2015 University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival 
  • 2014 New York City Jazz Festival with the late Dr. Steve Zegree
  • Performances with Take 6, New York Voices, m-pact, saje, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Carmen Bradford, Marilyn Maye, and Dianna Reeves

Faculty

Justin Binek, D.M.A.
Specialty: Music theory, jazz studies, applied voice, applied piano and funk band

John Stafford II
Specialty: Choral and vocal jazz ensembles, music appreciation, and music department coordinator

Julia Scozzafava
Specialty: Applied voice and music appreciation 

 

Lauren Auge
Specialty: Applied voice

Geoff Wilcken, D.M.A.
Specialty: Staff accompanist for choral ensembles, applied piano, and music appreciation 

Mark Ferrell
Specialty: Staff accompanist for applied voice studios

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