The NYU Music Education Jazz Ensemble (MEJE), founded in 2010 by its current director, Professor Michael L. Breaux, is one of the premier all-University ensembles open to students at NYU. This ensemble was formed when students in the Music Education program of NYU Steinhardt’s Music and Performing Arts Professions department were seeking a performing ensemble experience which would engage them not only in the rehearsing and performing of music written specifically for the Big Band, but also in learning how to organize, rehearse, and develop their own Big Bands once they themselves are music teachers. From the wishes of those few students, came the wonderful performing ensemble that we have today.
The ensemble is not strictly limited to music education majors, but its primary function is to provide that missing experience to the core membership: music educators. Current membership includes students from all parts of the University, including performance and composition majors.
The ensemble was invited to perform at the International Society of Music Education (ISME) 30th World Conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, in 2012. The ensemble has also participated in Big Band festivals such as the Wilton Big Band Symposium, in which Professor Breaux served as a clinician. The ensemble seeks to perform music ranging from the origins of the Big Band to music written by modern composers, performers, and students of the ensemble as well.
The MEJE has been lucky to host musicians from the greater New York community to both solo with the ensemble, and spend time rehearsing and performing with the ensemble. Mr. Carl Fischer, trumpet soloist with Billy Joel, joined the ensemble in 2012 on a Wally Minko composition originally written for Wayne Bergeron. Mr. Fischer was thrilled to play with us and having him as our soloist changed the way the band (and the brass specifically) has approached playing ever since.
Currently, we have Mr. Ryan Resky serving as our lead trumpet player and as our co-director for the ensemble. With Ryan’s assistance, we have begun to solidify the brass playing of the ensemble, and to develop an insight into the art of lead trumpet playing - a really important topic for music educators to grapple with in their own teaching.
Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30pm in room 779 of the Education Building (35 West 4th Street). There is a dedicated drum set (no cymbals) at our disposal, and we are able to use guitar and bass amps from the Music Tech program as well. Woodwind players are expected to double (e.g., flute, clarinet) as needed, along with the saxophone part they play. Brass players are expected to bring mutes and other doubles (e.g., flugelhorn) as required.
The ensemble has at least one scheduled concert per semester, but there are a few other performances that may enter the schedule. There may also be recording sessions in the Dolan Studio located on the 6th floor of the Education Building.
For recent photos of the MEJE, please click through this album:
Professor Michael L. Breaux
Office: 35 West 4th Street, Suite 1077G