UNC Jazz Press Historical Sketch

In 1977, UNC Jazz Studies Director Gene Aitken founded Jazz Press in an effort to help publish outstanding student composers and alumni and help them gain recognition. The first charts were produced using a technique from Los Angeles called the Ozalid Process. UNC students and LA copyists copied parts and Jazz Studies TAs were responsible for producing the finished parts. Guitar student Fred Hamilton and drummer Chris Hughes were the first students to have charts published through Jazz Press, and Flesher-Hinton Musicís Ken Anderson agreed to sell their charts in his store in Denver.

When Fred Hamilton interviewed for a job at Bowling Green University, he was recognized for his published charts. Wanting to increase exposure for his student composers, Gene placed ads in the National Association of Jazz Educatorsí magazine and sold charts at conventions and through word of mouth. As advertising spread, requests for publication began to come in from students at other schools. When notable composers such as Vince Mendoza and Jim McNeely began to send charts, Gene Aitken opened the Jazz Press doors to original compositions and arrangements of students and established composers alike.

    The increasing financial gains from Jazz Press began to help support the UNC Jazz Studies Program, funding scholarships and the purchase of departmental equipment. At this time, Jazz Press also began to publish copyrighted material, paying royalties to composers and publishing houses such as Hal Leonard and Warner Brothers.

    In January 2009, UNC Jazz Press launched the current website and began functioning as an online store. UNC Jazz Press is one of the largest jazz publishers in the world, publishing nearly 3,000 charts for big band, vocal jazz, combos and chamber groups. Having a publishing company within the university gives UNC Jazz ensembles access to the latest compositions and helps to stimulate creative flow within the ever-growing program. There are no limitations to the complexity of music available through Jazz Press; interested parties are able to find pieces for beginning jazz ensembles and professional bands alike. Charts are printed to order, which makes Jazz Press eco-friendly and prevents waste. As UNC Jazz Press continues to grow, it continues to increase the body of work carried out in its missions: making available the highest caliber of creative jazz music and providing outreach and service to the global jazz and jazz education communities.