AAJC Initiative

HBCU/PBI Spotlight

The African American Jazz Caucus aims to promote the rich musical culture and legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) & Predominately Black Institutions (PBI). Through our partnership with the Jazz Education Network (JEN), the AAJC selects a musical group from an HBCU or PBI to feature at the annual JEN Conferences each January.  

About North Carolina Central UNIVERSITY (NCCU)


The NCCU Vocal Ensemble

 The NCCU Vocal Ensembles have won accolades at numerous American and international festivals and have twice performed at the White House with the NCCU Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combos. The Ensemble and guest artist Joey Calderazzo were featured at the 2008 International Association for Jazz Education Conference in Toronto, Canada. The Ensemble performed with pianist Geri Allen and vocalist Carmen Lundy at the NCCU Jazz Festival in 2007. In 2009, they became the first college vocal group to perform at the prestigious Notre Dame Jazz Festival.

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About jazz at NCCU

In 1977, NCCU became the first university in the state to offer the Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies. The program has since evolved to include a comprehensive vocal jazz component and the Master of Music degree in Jazz Composition and Jazz Performance.

The Jazz Studies Program is under the leadership of saxophonist/flutist Ira Wiggins, Ph.D., and offers curricula leading to the Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in jazz.

Find out more about NCCU

About the Director

Lenora Zenzalai Helm Hammonds is a Jazz Vocal Musician specializing in Classic, Traditional jazz standard and original repertoire. She has 6 solo recordings and a touring and performance discography with the biggest names in Jazz. Former U.S. Jazz Ambassador, she mentors emerging vocalists, and since 2005 teaches vocal performance and directs a vocal jazz ensemble as a professor in the music department at North Carolina Central University. 

Learn more Lenora Helm

Jazz At North Carolina Central

Check out this great video about the Jazz studies program at North Carolina Central University.

About Texas Southern University (TSU)


The TSU Jazz Ensmebles

The TSU Jazz ensembles are award-winning and renown ensembles that have fostered the talents of many of the top performers of today. Notable alums include; Kirk Whalum, Shelly Carroll, Frank Lacy, Andrae Hayward, Horace Alexander Young, and Kyle Turner to name a few. TSU ensembles have always been forward thinking, geared toward the modern musician and cultivate a unique environment for musical exploration and self-expression.


About Jazz at TSU

TSU offers a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance that prepares young professionals for a myriad of career possibilities. Whether it is a performer, composer, producer, educator, or advocate Jazz at TSU will prepare you to excel in your field. TSU boasts an outstanding faculty of leading music educators and world-class performers that are student-centered and community driven. In addition, students also have the opportunity to work with guest artists that are internationally renowned. 

Find out more about TSU

About the Director

Dr. Brian N. Perez is Director of Jazz Studies and woodwinds at Texas Southern University where his duties include directing the jazz ensembles, teaching jazz curriculum courses, applied lessons and coordinating the jazz area.  Perez holds D.M.A. in saxophone performance from the University of Maryland College Park, a Master of Music in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Miami, a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Perez is a regular member of the Conrad O. Johnson Orchestra and the Houston Jazz Orchestra - which was recently awarded a Disney Motif Award for performance and outreach.  He has also performed with artists such as Tom Harrell, The Cab Calloway Orchestra, Ruben Blades, and the Temptations.  As a solo artist he has performed nationally and internationally including Spain, Colombia, and Venezuela. 

Jazz at Texas Southern University

Check out this great video of Texas Southern University performing.