The EIU Jazz Ensemble is directed by Sam Fagaly. The group has received numerous awards including Outstanding Ensemble and Solo Performance citations at the Notre Dame and Elmhurst College jazz festivals as well as from Downbeat magazine. They have been featured at the International Association for Jazz Education and Illinois Music Educators Association conferences and have performed with legendary jazz artists Mel Torme, Dizzy Gillespie, Diane Schuur, and Joe Williams among others. The Jazz Ensemble's latest CD is entitled "Three O'Clock Downbeat."
The EIU Jazz Lab Band, directed by Paul Johnston, provides an opportunity for more students to gain experience with big band repertoire. Rehearsals emphasize the fundamentals of stylistic interpretation, articulation, and improvisation.
Jazz Combos meet twice each week and perform at least two concerts per semester. Groups frequently have additional off-campus performances. In recent years, Eastern combos have been recognized for outstanding performances at the Elmhurst, Notre Dame, and North Texas Jazz Festivals.
A variety of courses in theory, improvisation, and arranging are available to all EIU students. Auditions for EIU jazz groups are held at the beginning of each fall semester.