Chris Merz,
Associate Professor of Music, has served as Director of Jazz Studies and Director of the award-winning UNI Jazz Band One at the University of Northern Iowa since 2002. Under his direction, the band has recorded eight CDs featuring many original compositions and arrangements by student and faculty writers.

He has also taught at the University of Wyoming, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa. Chris has toured four continents with Dave Brubeck and other members of the Brubeck family and played lead alto saxophone with several East Coast groups, including the Cecil Bridgewater Big Band, the New England Jazz Ensemble, and the Jeff Holmes Big Band. His own projects include Equilateral and the X-tet, a 12-piece big band.

Chris has several compact disc recordings to his credit, including a collaboration with Bob Washut (Gemini), two discs with Equilateral (...And Another Thing and Also Not Pictured...) and one with the X-tet (Mystery is My Story). About that disc, Dave Brubeck wrote, "I am very pleased with this wonderful band. Naturally, I would admire a group like yours that, to me, is a grand extension of what we were doing...when we were the "new thing"." He has received commissions from university and high school jazz ensembles throughout the country and has several compositions and arrangements published by Walrus Music Publishing (Pismo Beach, CA) and the UNC Jazz Press (Greeley,CO). He is a highly sought-after clinician and guest conductor.

Chris currently resides in Cedar Falls with his wife, Jill, and their sons Benjamin and Matthew.

Chris Merz

Robert Washut is Professor of Music at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Director of Jazz Studies from 1980 - 2002. An accomplished jazz composer and arranger, Washut has received numerous commissions from collegiate and high school jazz ensembles, professional jazz artists, and symphony orchestras. Many of his works are published by Kendor Music (Delevan, NY), UNC Jazz Press (Greeley,CO), Walrus Music Publishing (Pismo Beach, CA), C.L. Barnhouse (Oskaloosa, IA), and Heritage JazzWorks (Lorenz Corp - Dayton, OH).

During his 22 years as director of the award-winning UNI Jazz Band One, Washut recorded 11 CDs (two of which earned 5-star ratings from DownBeat magazine), toured Europe three times, consistently received "Outstanding Band" recognition at collegiate jazz festivals throughout the Midwest, and was awarded three "Outstanding Performance" citations in DownBeat's Annual Student Music Awards.

He is in demand as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the country, having conducted all-state jazz bands in 13 states. He is also an active jazz pianist who founded the locally popular Latin jazz band, Orquesta Alto Maiz, in 1986. Washut recorded and released a jazz trio CD entitled Songbook in 1999 and a jazz duo CD (w/Chris Merz) in 1999. With Orquesta Alto Maiz, he has recorded 10 CDs and performed nationally and internationally. Washut was inducted into the Iowa IAJE Hall of Fame in 2003 and was selected as Outstanding Teacher at UNI in 1996.


Robert Washut

Bob Dunn - Jazz Guitar Instructor
Jonathan Schwabe - Jazz Bass Instructor
Thomas Giampietro - Drumset Instructor