The Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra is Eastman Community Music School's premier jazz ensemble. The ensemble started in the fall of 2002 and consists of the many of the best high school jazz students from western New York. From its inception, the focus of the ensemble has been on the music of the great Duke Ellington. Ellington's music is the perfect educational vehicle for Jazz. It encompasses much of the history of jazz and includes the best performance practice examples in the genre. The ensemble rehearses from 9 – 11 a.m. on Saturdays in room – Messinger One. The college students affectionately refer to this room as the "fish bowl" because it has windows all around it and people walking by can look in and see rehearsals/performance taking place. Audition are required and are held in the spring (end of May) and in the Fall (first week in Sept) each year.
Besides the competition, the band plays throughout the year at Eastman and in the Greater Rochester area. The band usually plays at least one performance with the Eastman Jazz Lab Band (3rd collegiate jazz ensemble) during the school year. The EYJO also plays 2 – 3 times during the Rochester International Jazz Festival. The performance during the RIJF in the Eastman Theater, featuring Eastman ensembles is one of the highlights of the year. The students in the band are usually (but not always) intending to major in music at the college level. Each year we have several students who go on the Eastman School of Music as well as other wonderful music conservatories across the US. At least 25 students have gone on to study at Eastman in the jazz department and many others have gone on to Eastman as classical majors. Some of our students go on to other fields of study. In past years we have had graduates going off to schools including: various SUNY colleges, UR, Princeton, Fordham, West Point, the University of Chicago, Cornell etc.