The Jazz Combos made their debut in 2005. Students audition and are then assigned a small group. Through coachings with professional instructors, they develop ensemble and improvisational skills in a variety of jazz styles. In addition to Music Department-sponsored performances, members of Jazz Combos often have other performance opportunities around the Penn campus. Jazz Combo performances are generally held in Rose Recital Hall.
Dr. Matthew D. Clayton, a Philadelphia area native, is a saxophonist, educator, scholar and composer. Initially drawn to the saxophone by the music of Charlie Parker, Dr. Clayton has been dedicated to the performance and teaching of music for 15 years and it has remained central to his life ever since he first touched the saxophone at age 10. His love of jazz was fueled by his participation in big bands, starting in middle school, where he played lead alto and began gaining experience as an improviser. In high school, Dr. Clayton was a member of the National Grammy Jazz Band, where he had the opportunity to play at famed New York City jazz venues such as the Village Vanguard and Birdland. Also while in high school, he played at Carnegie Hall, met and performed for saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., and gigged with former Count Basie trombonist Al Grey. As a graduating senior at age 18, it was clear that music was his passion and calling.
Dr. Clayton enrolled at Yale University, where he earned his B.A. in Music. While at Yale, he was a visible presence on the music scene, forming his own jazz quartet, playing at the Yale School of Music, and participating in many campus wide events and local performances. After graduating from Yale, Dr. Clayton enrolled at Harvard University, where he earned his Masters and Ph.D. in Music, specializing in ethnomusicology. At Harvard, he directed the graduate school jazz band and performed with students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After completing his studies at Harvard, Dr. Clayton returned to the Philadelphia area to pursue his love of teaching and performing music. He is a faculty member at the prestigious Nelly Berman School of Music, and is currently performing with his group, the Matthew Clayton Quartet.
Jazz Combos: By appointment