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Bands: Jazz Bands

photo of the SFA Swingin' Axes and Swingin' Aces

The Swingin’ Axes

Stephen F. Austin State University boasts two jazz bands. The Swingin’ Axes, directed by Dr. Deb Scott, has a long and distinguished history. Among its former directors are Gene Hall, founder of the jazz program at the University of North Texas, and Darrell Holt, under whom the band enjoyed national acclaim in the late 60s and early 70s. The Swingin’ Axes have backed up some the world’s best modern jazz artists, including Bobby Shew, Gary Foster, Allen Vizzutti, Eddie Daniels, Marvin Stamm, Mike Vax, Chris Vadala, Conrad Herwig, and Jeff Coffin. The band also makes a point of inviting in well-known regional artists, such as Tim Ishii, John Wasson, Tony Baker, Ron Wilkins, Randy Graham and many others.

SFA’s jazz bands perform frequently on the SFA campus as well as in the surrounding community at schools and charity events. All SFA students, regardless of major, are invited to participate in the jazz bands. Students are admitted through an audition process that occurs at the beginning of each new semester.

Contact the ensemble director

The Swingin’ Aces

SFA’s second jazz band, the Swingin’ Aces, is also a very active jazz band, performing four concerts annually along with the Swingin’ Axes as well as community concerts in schools and for festivals. The Swingin’ Aces provides more performing opportunities for students to develop jazz reading and improvisation skills. Rehearsals are at the same time as the Axes, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30–1:45 p.m. The Swingin’ Aces is directed by Dr. J.D. Salas. All SFA students, regardless of major, are invited to participate in the jazz bands. Students are admitted through an audition process that occurs at the beginning of each new semester.

Contact the ensemble director

Auditions and Course Offerings

Auditions for the two SFA jazz bands, the Swingin’ Axes and Swingin’ Aces, are open to all students regardless of major. Instruments include saxophone, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, piano, bass, drums, and guitar. You do not have to have prior jazz band experience to audition.

Auditions take place each fall and spring semester on the first or second day of classes. Music and any pertinent information is posted a few days before auditions on the bulletin board beside room 170 in the music building. Students will have only a few days to prepare the music. Improvisation is not required.

Students who are placed in one of the jazz bands should register for the class and are expected to perform at the concerts and attend all rehearsals and pre-performance rehearsals and sound checks. Classes meet on Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m.

Course Offerings for Jazz Bands
Ensemble Time Course Offering
Swingin’ Axes TTh 12:30–1:45 MUP 137.001 (MUP 337.001—upper level credit)
Swingin’ Aces TTh 12:30–1:45 MUP 137.002 (MUP 337.002—upper level credit)