Christopher Merz

Christopher Merz, 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 traveled to South Africa, Thailand and Cuba, and has recorded 19 albums featuring many original compositions and arrangements by student and faculty writers.

The 2006 recipient of the CHFA University Book and Supply Outstanding Teaching award, Merz was also the 2016 recipient of the John L. Baker Faculty Development award, and was inducted into the Iowa Jazz Educators’ Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Community Jazz Center (Des Moines) Hall of Fame in 2023. He is a Past President of Jazz Educators of Iowa (JEI), and the founder and director of the UNI Combo Camp.

His recording credits include Steve McCraven, Darius Brubeck, Bob Washut, John Rapson and Jon Snell, as well as his own projects; Christopher’s Very Happy. Band, Counterculture, The X-tet, and Equilateral. His current projects include The Iowa Jazz Composers’ Orchestra, The Bob Washut Emeritet, and Steve Grismore’s Big Fun. Most recently, he launched Shorter Stories–The Music of Wayne Shorter, whose debut album, New JuJu, is available through all digital outlets.

A highly sought after guest conductor, clinician and composer, he has directed All-State and district honor jazz bands in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Nevada, Missouri, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Iowa, and has written commissions for high schools and colleges around the country.

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