PhD in Jazz Studies

The PhD Concentration in Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh produces jazz scholars and academic leaders through rigorous training in jazz research, composition, and performance. The curriculum is both demanding and yet flexible enough to accommodate individual skills and interests, and prepares degree recipients to enter the academic marketplace with the best available preparation for researching, publishing, teaching, and leading programs in Jazz Studies. Jazz Studies combines elements of ethnomusicology, musicology, performance, composition, and theory of various styles of jazz music.

The University of Pittsburgh is recognized as one of the premier Jazz programs in the country. Each year Pitt hosts the annual Jazz Seminar and Concert, which showcases the world's foremost jazz performers in a week-long series of free educational seminars culminating in an all-star concert. Davis retired from Pitt in 2013.

Pitt is also home to the University of Pittsburgh-Sonny Rollins International Jazz Archives, which houses important original manuscripts, recordings and related memorabilia. The Jazz Archives also include The International Academy of Jazz Hall of Fame, which each year inducts a new Jazz great into the Academy. Fine out more about Pitt's Jazz Collection.

The William R. Robinson Recording Studio is the latest addition to the Pitt Jazz family. This state-of-the-art multi-track digital recording facility is both studio and classroom, offering students hands on experience in the latest recording techniques and technology.

Find out more about Jazz Studies at Pitt.

Jazz Studies Faculty

Aaron J. Johnson, Interim Direcor of Jazz Studies, is a historical musicologist and Assistant Professor of Music and the University of Pittsburgh.  He is an accomplished jazz musician who has performed and recorded on the trombone, bass trombone, tuba, and bass clarinet with such outstanding musicians as Reggie Workman, Charles Tolliver, Steve Turre, Frank Foster, Oliver Lake, Howard Johnson, Muhal Richard Abrams, Jimmy Heath, Wallace Roney, and Wynton Marsalis, as well as Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, and Jay-Z. Dr. Johnson's research interests include music and communications media, the structure of the music business, music and technology, film music, funk, and music information retrieval (MIR). He is in the process of writing a book on jazz and radio in the United States.

Michael C. Heller is an ethnomusicologist and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on the post-60s jazz avant garde, musician-organized collectives, sound studies, and archival theory. In 2016, his first monograph Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s (University of California Press) received the H. Earle Johnson Publication Subvention from the Society for American Music. The study examines issues of musician agency and organizing strategies amid a period of disruptive urban post-war restructuring in New York City. An experienced archivist, Dr. Heller has also worked in and/or processed numerous archival collections including the Erroll Garner Collection at Pitt, the Ruben Blades and Stephen “Lucky” Mosko Collections at Harvard, and the privately owned Juma Sultan Archive.

Yoko Suzuki is a Teaching Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Her long-term research explores the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality in jazz performance through the lenses of feminist theories. Other projects include popular music and DJ culture in Japan, performance practices of the Black church, and the music of Geri Allen. She asires in her research to illuminate underrecognized musicians and their work, addressing the issues of race, gender, and sexuality to eradicate social injustice. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Suzuki maintains an active performance career in the Pittsburgh jazz scene. 



The Department of Music of the University of Pittsburgh invites applications from candidates with the exceptional ability for the William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies beginning August 1, 2023, pending budgetary approval. The appointment will be made at the level of Associate Professor or higher, with tenure.

We seek a colleague with a special combination of skills as a dedicated musician, teacher, and visionary leader who will help strengthen our Jazz Studies activities, work closely with other members of our faculty, and represent our program within the university and the wider community. We are particularly seeking a colleague to oversee public programming and community outreach efforts, and to mentor student artists and scholars at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The individual hired will work closely with existing facets of the jazz program at Pitt, which offers a rich array of academic and artistic opportunities. These include the B.A. and Ph.D. degree tracks; the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert; community outreach programs including activities at the Hill District Community Engagement Center; the journal Jazz and Culture; jazz archives including the Pitt Jazz, Erroll Garner, and Dave Burrell Collections; International Jazz Hall of Fame; and William Robinson Studio.

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