Dakota Combo Auditions

The Dakota Combo is an audition-based group of the region’s top (grades 9-12) high school jazz musicians. Up to eight musicians (instrumental only) are offered full scholarships for a year of serious extra-curricular jazz study and performance in partnership with the MacPhail Center for Music. Rehearsals are held biweekly at MacPhail on Thursday nights from 8:00-10:00pm.

Past combos have produced their own recordings, received the Mingus Spirit Award at the Charles Mingus High School Competition and Festival in New York, and performed at jazz venues and festivals throughout and beyond the Twin Cities. 

Auditions for Dakota Combo 2017-18 will be held on Sunday, September 17 12:30-4:00pm at MacPhail Center for Music.


Annual auditions for the Dakota Combo are held in mid-September at MacPhail Center for Music in downtown Minneapolis. Information about auditions are posted by June. If you plan to audition, please review the audition requirements, listed below.  Also, be sure to fill out a Student Audition Form found here. To stay up-to-date on Dakota Combo auditions and other DFJE workshops and events, sign up for our email list (see right-hand sidebar).

2017-18 Audition Requirements (change annually)

Selection for this jazz combo is based entirely on auditions. Auditions will be held Sunday, September 17 from 12:30-4:00 p.m. in Room 607 at MacPhail Center for Music. There is no sign-up for audition times. Please arrive early to assure an audition opportunity. Instrumentation is flexible, but advanced musicians playing standard jazz instruments are encouraged to audition.

Sorry, there will be no vocal positions open again this year. Each student, including drummers, must prepare TWO jazz selections to be performed with a professional rhythm section. Most likely, due to time constraints, only a portion of each song will be performed (i.e. head and a chorus or two only).

One tune must be selected from the list below:

  • On Dolphin Street
  • I Thought About You     
  • Liza
  • Bluesette
  • When Lights Are Low
  • Tenderly

The other tune is of the student’s choice and should contrast the style of the first selection.

Be prepared to demonstrate knowledge of jazz scales and chords. You may be asked to play some scales along with your prepared tunes and improvisation.

Drummers – Be prepared to demonstrate knowledge of different jazz styles and grooves. You will be asked to perform some of these styles.

There will be a full “back line” at the audition. This includes a drum set, piano and guitar/bass amplifiers.


For more information please contact Dakota Combo leader, Adam Linz, at linz.adam [at] macphail.org