The Studio Jazz Ensemble (Paul Harshman, director) performs big band arrangements and repertory selections. The Modern Band (Cuong Vu, director) performs innovative arrangements of jazz standards, selections from the outer limits of the genre, and new original compositions.
Paul Harshman, Studio Jazz Ensemble
Paul Harshman is an Artist in Residence at the University of Washington where he serves as the Director of the Studio Jazz Ensemble. He is also the Band Director at Hamilton International Middle School in Seattle as well as the leader of the pH Factor Big Band.
As Director of Bands at Kentridge HS in the 1990's, Shorewood HS from 2000-2009, Lakeside School from 2008-2015 and Shoreline Community College from 2010-2015, his bands consistently received superior ratings at festivals and contests throughout the West. His jazz ensembles were considered among the finest in the nation, winning many of the most prestigious jazz festivals in the country including the Berklee College (Boston) Jazz Festival, the University of North Texas Jazz Festival, the Reno Jazz Festival, the Fullerton Jazz Festival, the Lionel Hampton/ University of Idaho Jazz Festival and the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival. His groups have qualified for the Essentially Ellington Festival in New York City five times and in 2005 and 2008 received the Honorable Mention Award at that festival.
In 2009 the Shorewood Jazz Band won their division at the Reno Jazz Festival for the fourth consecutive year and also won a Downbeat Magazine Award for High School Jazz Band Performance. His ensembles have performed through invitation at the Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague, Netherlands, the 2001 MENC National Conference in Washington D.C. and the 2007 International Association of Jazz Educators Conference in New York. They have also performed with guest artists such as Maynard Ferguson, Phil Woods, Steve Houghton, George Cables, Allen Vizzutti, Marvin Stamm, Arturo O’Farrill and the University of North Texas One O’clock Jazz Lab Band.
Paul received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Central Washington University and his Master of Music Degree from Northwestern University. While at CWU, Paul was an All-American in Track and Field and still holds the school records for both the 10,000 and 3,000-meter runs.
Cuong Vu, Modern Band
Cuong Vu is widely recognized by jazz critics as a leader of a generation of innovative musicians. A truly unique musical voice, Cuong has lent his trumpet playing to a wide range of artists such as Pat Metheny, Laurie Anderson, and David Bowie.
As a youngster, Cuong's intense dedication and love for music led him to a full scholarship at the New England Conservatory of Music where he received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz studies with a distinction in performance. Transitioning from his studies in Boston, he moved to New York in 1994 and began his career actively leading various groups while touring extensively throughout the world. As a leader, Cuong has released eight recordings, each making critics’ lists of the 10 best recordings of their respective years and has received rave reviews from notable publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, the Guardian, BBC Music Magazine, JazzTimes and Downbeat. Each record displays how he has carved out a distinctive sonic territory as a trumpet player, blurring all stylistic borders while developing his own compositional aesthetic and sound world.
Awards and honors that Cuong has garnered include grants from the Royalty Research Foundation, the Donald E. Peterson Professorship, ArtistTrust, 4Culture, CityArts and the Colbert Award for Excellence. Cuong is currently associate professor and chair of Jazz Studies at the University of Washington and was awarded the University of Washington's prestigious Distinguished Teacher Award in his third year on faculty. In 2002 and 2006, Cuong was a recipient of the Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album as a member of the Pat Metheny Group. He’s been recognized as one of the top 50 Jazz Artists in an article called “The New Masters” from the British magazine, “Classic CD” and in 2006 was named the Best International Jazz Artist by the Italian Jazz Critics’ Society. Amazon listed Vu’s “Come Play With Me” on their “The 100 Greatest Jazz Albums of All Time.”