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Dan Cavanagh

Associate Professor, Associate Director of Jazz Studies
Department of Music
College of Liberal Arts

UT Arlington Faculty

Dan Cavanagh is a composer and pianist who has garnered numerous awards in both areas. He is an honorary fellow of the National Academy of Music, and received a 2009 gold medal prize from that organization’s International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition. His trio was a finalist in the 2013 Bucharest International Jazz Competition, and he was a finalist in the 2011 Jacksonville Jazz Piano competition. Compositionally Cavanagh has received Honorable Mention in the 2007 Gil Evans/IAJE Commission Competition, Featured Performance at the 2006 International Jazz Composers’ Symposium, finalist in the 2002 and 2005 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers competitions, among other awards. His music continues to be performed across the country and internationally. He has received commissions from a wide range of jazz and classical groups across North America and Europe. His music can be found on a variety of American jazz and classical recordings.

Cavanagh is the founding Artistic Director and pianist of the American Jazz Composers Orchestra, a big band dedicated to performing music written by living American composers. He has performed with Grammy-winners Joe McCarthy and Irma Thomas, and many leading jazz musicians.

Service Learning Class

MUSI 0122.001/MUSI 5110.001 Jazz Combo

Students rehearse and perform standard and contemporary repertoire for small jazz ensemble. Special emphasis is given to interactive playing, improvising, and developing appropriate stylistic competency and techniques. Through a service-learning project, students will also learn popular song research techniques, reflect on music’s connection to the human need to experience art, and perform in both concert and community settings.

Academic Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Perform by memory the melodies of the music you rehearse in your group
  • Relate by memory the chord changes to the music you rehearse in your group
  • Discuss appropriate techniques for interacting within a small jazz group
  • Demonstrate any performance techniques covered in the Friday masterclass series or combo rehearsals
  • Understand and describe music’s relationship to the human condition
  • Research the history of a standard jazz composition or other popular song from the past
  • Discuss differing motivations for performing jazz music and describe its connection to society
  • Improvise by memory over the chord changes to the music you rehearse in your group

Service Learning Project

Connecting Jazz Music Performance to Community Members

Students will participate in a Service-Learning project with Meals on Wheels (MOW), Inc. of Tarrant County. Students will research traveling jazz performance practice (i.e. in the parade tradition of early New Orleans). Based on prior background information gathered from each client (on a voluntary basis), student combos will research songs appropriate to perform for clients. Each combo will ride along on a MOW delivery route one day later in the semester and perform a short musical selection for some or all of the clients on the route. Students will then reflect upon their experience.

This course will utilize a Team-Based Learning format in addition to the Service-Learning component. The professor assigns teams based on audition (i.e., each jazz combo is a separate team).

Partner:  Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County, Inc.

Students will ride along on a Meals on Wheels delivery route and perform short musical selections for the clients on the route. Students will come away with a better understanding of how music connects to the human need to experience art in general. Students will learn new musical repertoire and methods for researching the history of popular song.