The SCPA Jazz Program is a marquee group of talented student artists committed to excellence through the study and preservation of the jazz genre.  By way of audition, each student is placed in one of 2 performing jazz groups (repertory jazz group, large ensemble ) according to their individual strengths and needs.  In addition to daily jazz studies, students of the program successfully created and lead The Young Jazz Messengers who perform a myriad of professional jobs in the Greater Cincinnati region.

Although not the norm of typical high jazz education, the heart of the SCPA Jazz program is its intense focus on jazz harmony, and language/vocabulary through improvisation.  All jazz students are assessed daily in the mastery of necessary improvisatory concepts including ear training, transcription work, scales, be-bop language, ii V7 I vocabulary, pentatonic scale studies, 12 bar jazz blues form, 32 bar form, rhythm changes, and even compressed harmonic motion of “ Giant Steps” chord cycles.  The programs most recent success story  Robert “Max” Acree ( recipient of full tuition scholarship to CCM ).   He states,

“The strength of the SCPA Jazz Program lies in its realistic opportunities to work intensely with jazz theory and improvisation.  It is not the typical high school program where students mostly learn parts with very limited lessons in improvising.”

Erwin Stuckey: Jazz Studies Director, Band Instructor and Percussion Instructor

Mr. Erwin Stuckey, a native Cincinnatian, has performed extensively in the United States and South America and is internationally recognized as a true multi instrumentalist ( piano/ jazz organ, percussion, brass ) capable of handling a multitude of musical genres ranging from traditional jazz, European classical, Afro-Cuban and contemporary gospel.  He has performed high profile concerts with some of the world’s finest musicians such as John Blake, Malachi Thompson, Frank Foster, Joshua Redmond, Ben Tankard, Kenny Garrett, Terrel Stafford, Steve Wilson, Marlon Jordan, Pharez Witted, Mary Wilson ( Motown Supremes), Marion Meadows, Jeff Coffin of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, James Carter, Slide Hampton,  Arturo Sandoval, and steel drum virtuoso Othello Molineaux.  His discography includes over 30 recordings including his most recent personal release titled Giants of Jazz Piano Tribute in which he pays homage to piano greats from Scott Joplin through McCoy Tyner ( Groovemasterworks Publishing 2007).  He also enjoys the appointment as music minister of the Abundant Life Faith Fellowship of Cincinnati under the leadership of Pastor Stephen Brown.

As a distinguished educator, Mr. Stuckey has taught jazz piano, jazz history and improvisation at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Xavier University, Central State University, Northern Kentucky University, and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lakes Michigan.  In March of 2010, he presented 6 jazz workshops for students and semi professional jazz artists in Krakow Poland.  Since 2005, he has directed the Jazz and Percussion programs at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati.  Under his leadership, the jazz studies program at SCPA has experienced a renaissance of activity with SCPA students winning numerous awards and post secondary scholarships to leading universities with jazz and commercial music programs. 

This year, the SCPA Jazz Program will be adding the school’s first Afro-Latin combo while featuring the Jazz Rep Band and Jazz Dream Band. (Visit scpa.org for jazz concert dates.) Erwin Stuckey is also a 2007 recipient and continuing member of the Nobel Society for educators and scholars.  

“ So much of American music stems from a unique blend of the African American church tradition, the blues, combined with jazz’s harmonic integrity and form. This is a challenge that I face every time I sit at the piano and a task that truly invigorates and inspires me to be creative, joyous, organized, and spontaneously in the moment.”