Youth Jazz Ensemble
Thursdays, 6–7:30 p.m. (Fall, Spring)Ages 14–18Music Building, Room

The UW-Milwaukee Youth Jazz Ensemble (UJAY) is an auditioned group comprised Greater Milwaukee’s finest high school jazz musicians. Founded by Curt Hanrahan in 1992 and now under the direction of saxophonist Rosemary Walzer, students prepare repertoire in a professional-style setting, engage with guest artists/clinicians, and perform in University and Milwaukee jazz communities.

The UWM Youth Jazz Ensemble (UJAY) is a big band that prepares both classic and modern big band charts in weekly rehearsals during the academic year. In addition to at least four concerts with the UWM Jazz Ensemble, UJAY offers other performing opportunities in the SE Wisconsin jazz community. UJAY regularly opens for the Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra, including performances at Summerfest and Jean’s Jazz Series. UJAY has also performed with guest artists such as Jon Faddis (trumpet), Jim Pugh (trombone), Eddie Gomez (bass), Frank Tiberi (saxophone), Roger Ingram (trumpet), and vocalist Steve March-Tormé. In 2023, UJAY was a community partner with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and jazz pianist Aaron Diehl for the Midwest premiere of Mary Lou Williams’s The Zodiac Suite.


Rosemary Walzer Headshot
  • Director, Youth Jazz Ensemble

Registration & Entrance Auditions

To qualify, students must pass an entrance audition and remain enrolled in some aspect of their school’s music program. Once confirmed, saxophone, trumpet and trombone players will participate in a chair placement audition on Thursday, September 5, 2024.


In-person auditions will take place in the Music Building, Room 150 on Sunday May 19th from 2-4 p.m. and Thursday June 6th from 5-7 p.m.

Virtual Auditions are due by June 6th. ​Please prepare your audition video before starting the registration form.


  • Chromatic Scale – A two-octave chromatic scale (any starting pitch), performed both ascending and descending with a swing feel. Additional range (especially for brass) may be demonstrated. Percussion are exempt from this requirement.
  • Improvised Solo – Prepare an improvised solo on a jazz standard or 12 bar blues. Play the head, solo on two choruses, and play the head out. Bass/Piano/Guitar- comp for an additional chorus. Drum set- Demonstrate swing style (slow, medium, up tempo), brush work, funk style, and a latin style of your choice (bossa nova, samba, mambo).
  • If Choosing Virtual Audition Video – Record your audition incorporating all above requirements and save it as a single video file. Upload your video to a private YouTube channel, iCloud, Dropbox, or cloud-based storage platform, and share the link in the registration form.


The payment system link will be sent after returning students submit their registration form and after new/prospective students audition videos have been evaluated and accepted. To secure your place in the program, a minimum non-refundable registration fee of $200 is due before July 15. 

We are glad to assist applicants with reduced registration (scholarship) as demonstrated through stated financial need. Please reach out for details.

CostStudent Type
$400Returning UJAY Musicians
$470New UJAY Musicians
$650Enrollment in both UWAY and UJAY programs
$400Member of MYSO Jazz or Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Jazz Honors Programs


UWM Jazz Group Shot

October 5, 2023, 7:30 pm

Jazz Concert

Join us for a collection of Jazz performances in Jan Serr Studio at Kenilworth Square East.

UWM Jazz Group Shot

December 12, 2023, 7:30 pm

Jazz Concert

The 18-member UWM Jazz Ensemble performs music written or arranged specifically for a large jazz orchestra. The repertoire includes music from Duke Ellington and Count Basie as well as contemporary composers such as Maria Schneider, Tom Matta and Bob Mintzer.

Jazz Night Promo Image

March 7, 7:30 pm

Jazz Night with special guest Bony Benavides

In celebration of Women's History Month, UWM Jazz Night features several compositions by well-known composers Toshiko Akiyoshi and Maria Schneider along with vocal tributes to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn.

Jazz Concert Featuring Mitch Towne Promo Image

April 14, 7:30 pm

Jazz Concert Featuring Mitch Towne

Join us for a collection of Jazz performances featuring Mitch Towne on Jazz Organ.