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 Thailand as well as the east coast of the US, and has recorded 13 CDs 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 the 2016 recipient of the John L. Baker Faculty Development award, and was inducted into the Iowa Jazz Educators’ Hall of Fame in 2015. He is a Past President of Jazz Educators of Iowa (JEI), and the founder and director of the UNI Combo Camp, an annual event for high school jazz students and music educators, which takes place each June.
His recording credits include Steve McCraven, Darius Brubeck, John Rapson and Jon Snell, as well as his own projects; Counterculture, the Chris Merz/Bob Washut Duo, The X-tet, and Equilateral. His 1997 release with the X-tet, Mystery is My Story, prompted Dave Brubeck to write, “I am very pleased with this wonderful band. Naturally I would admire a group like yours that, to me, is a grand extension of what we were doing...when we were the ‘new thing’”. Current projects include Colossus Central (an exciting new big band led by UNI alum Michael Conrad) and the quartet, Christopher’s Very Happy. Band., which performs Merz’s originals exclusively. CVH.B.’s debut cd, We Are Bathed in Sunlight, was recently released on RealTown! Records. An accomplished composer/arranger for large jazz ensembles, Merz has received commissions from university and high school big bands throughout the country, and is published through UNC Jazz Press and ejazzlines. He is also a highly sought after guest soloist, clinician and conductor at university and high school jazz festivals nationwide, and is endorsed by D’Addario and TM Custom tenor saxophones.