3. New England Conservatory of Music – Boston, MA
Quite possibly the most selective and advanced jazz department overall in the entire US, the New England Conservatory has graduated many of the most famous names performing today in modern jazz, including Cecil Taylor, Don Byron, John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin, and Wood), and the jazz bassist Grammy-winner Dave Holland.
The faculty at the New England Conservatory includes not only some of the most well-known names in Boston today, but also in jazz throughout the entire world, including saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, pianist Fred Hersch, and jazz trumpeter Ralph Alessi, who is well known for being one of the members of saxophonist Steve Coleman’s band (as well as the brother of classical trombonist and Juilliard faculty member Joseph Alessi).
2. University of North Texas College of Music – Denton, TX
Possibly the very best college for jazz in the entire southern region of the US, the University of North Texas is, along with Indiana University and Berklee, one of the largest and most diverse music colleges in America. From 1994-1997, US News and World Report consistently ranked UNT at the top of its lists, and the only reason it hasn’t been ranked since is because US News and World Report stopped ranking jazz programs after 1997.
The University of North Texas is consistently ranked by many other publications outside of US News and World Report as being one of the very best jazz programs in the nation, and was even the very first college in the entire world to offer a professional degree in jazz studies. Additionally, the college’s “One O’Clock Lab Band,” an ensemble comprising of the finest young jazz students at UNT, has been nominated for an astonishing six Grammy awards! Additionally, students from UNT have toured throughout a significant number of countries in the One O’Clock Lab Band, including Australia, Norway, Mexico, Poland, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Thailand.
1. Berklee College of Music – Boston, MA
Undeniably one of the most important training centers for popular, jazz, and rock music performance, Berklee has had luminaries of hit radio stations begin their education in its legendary halls, from the likes of rock guitarists as varied as Steve Vai and Elliot Easton (From “The Cars”) to jazz legends Keith Jarrett and Hiromi Uehara to popular musicians like John Mayer and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer. There are so many incredibly successful and famous musical acts that actually formed at or had their beginnings at Berklee, including heavy metal band Dream Theater, indie-pop sensation Passion Pit, iconic art rocker St. Vincent, contemporary Christian gospel duo Out of the Grey, and alternative rock bank The Click Five. Located in the heart of Boston, this college prepares students for the real world of making a career in jazz, rock, and popular music styles.