Jenna Cave (b.1984) is an Australian composer and arranger, bandleader and conductor, and saxophonist and vocalist who is most known for her large ensemble contemporary jazz music. Her music has been performed, broadcast and warmly reviewed around Australia and internationally.

She has co-lead the 18-piece Divergence Jazz Orchestra as resident composer, conductor and co-leader since 2012. Other current ensembles include improvised duo For This Moment with Keyna Wilkins and The Truth Seekers; her originals quintet with Hannah James, Andrew Scott, Will Gilbert and Mike Quigley. Cave works with other jazz orchestras and ensembles around Australia as guest musical director and commissioned composer/arranger. Cave teaches saxophone and jazz ensemble performance in Sydney, and has her own teaching studio in the suburb of Balmain. 


Cave has established herself as a top-level composer, arranger and conductor in contemporary Australian jazz

 – John McBeath, The Australian

Cave began her professional musical life as a young jazz saxophonist in Canberra, where she studied saxophone with John Mackey and jazz arranging and composition with Miroslav Bukovsky at the ANU School of Music, graduating in 2006 with first class honours. She was awarded the Peter and Lena Karmel Memorial Prize and Bernhard Neumann Memorial Prize for the most outstanding graduate of the ANU School of Music that year. Cave moved to Sydney in 2008 to study a Master of Music (composition) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Bill Motzing, and was the recipient of a two-year University of Sydney Postgraduate Award Scholarship.

In 2012 Divergence Jazz Orchestra was formed by Cave with Paul Weber (trombone) as a vehicle to perform and record her compositions alongside music by other contemporary Australian composers. Since their inception they have performed dozens of shows of original Australian music under Cave’s direction. Cave produced their two albums, The Opening Statement (2013) featuring her works, and Fake it Until You Make It (2016); featuring her works alongside those of composing colleagues. The albums have been reviewed and broadcast in Australia and abroad, both receiving glowing 4-star reviews in The Australian and on international jazz blog All About Jazz.

Featuring music by over 20 composers to date, Divergence have performed at major Australian jazz festivals (Capital Jazz Project Canberra and Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival), underground venues, in concert series, at jazz clubs and have produced many of their own shows. They have collaborated with Australian jazz luminaries Judy Bailey, Miroslav Bukovsky and Paul Cutlan; showcased the music of emerging and younger musicians such as Rafael Karlen and Michael Griffin, and shone a light on the outstanding improvisational and compositional talents within the orchestra.


Photo by Frank Crews

Photo by Frank Crews

Cave writes with depth and maturity well beyond her years

– Jack Bowers, ALL ABOUT JAZZ (USA)

In the last 9 years Cave has been commissioned to write music by international jazz festivals and ensembles, highlights include two works for the Sydney Women’s Jazz Collective (featuring Sandy Evans) for premiere at the 2016 Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, a piece for sextet (featuring Norwegian saxophonist Froy Aagre and Australian luminaries Andrea Keller and Shannon Barnett) for the 2010 Melbourne International Women’s Jazz Festival.

Other Australian groups to perform big band/large ensemble works have included (but aren’t limited to): ANU Big Band ( 2005-2007), Bennet’s Lane Big Band 2007), Sydney Con Jazz Orchestra (2008-2010), RMC Big Band (2009), Monday Night Jazz Orchestra at the Stag (2010), Sirens Big Band (2010-2018), Daryl McKenzie Jazz Orchestra (2010-2012), WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (2011-2018), Melbourne Composers Jazz Orchestra (2017), Dan McClean Big Band (2017) and many more…

Her works for string quartet and string orchestra have been performed internationally in NYC (Yates String quartet dir Ron Wasserman) and in St Petersburg (string orchestra Warm and Peace (Cond. Hoshimi Sakai). She has also been commissioned to compose for the screen, including the score and songs for a short musical Blackbuster broadcast on ABC TV and screened at the 2012 Sydney International Film Festival. In 2015 Cave was awarded full composer representation with the Australian Music Centre.


This is virtuoso horn writing

– John Hardaker, Australian


Music Qualifications

2008 to 2010: Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney. Master of Music (Composition)

2002 to 2006: Australian National University. Bachelor of Music (Jazz) with Honours (First Class)

2011: Australian Film Television and Radio School. Graduate Certificate in Screen Music


Commercial Album Releases

2016: Divergence Jazz Orchestra’s new album Fake It Until You Make It released in October 2016, 6 pieces by Cave and 5 by other composers, produced and conducted by Cave.

2013: Divergence Jazz Orchestra’s debut album The Opening Statement, all music by Jenna Cave, produced and conducted by Cave.

2012: Odd Time in Mali  featured on the Sirens Big Band’s album release Kali and the TIme of Change.

2006: Co-producer of album release Take it in Colour featuring Cave compositions Cardinal Lemoine, Journey and Through the Sky.

2011: Big band arrangement of Yekermo Sew included on the Sirens Big Band EP Universe.


Composition Commissions

2016: Two new works for ten-piece ensemble to be premiered at the 2016 Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival

2016: Private commission to compose a new work for Divergence Jazz Orchestra

2011: Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra 2011 composer-in-residence. This included a commission for three new works, tuition with four composers and a concert premiere of the new works.

2010: Commissioned to compose a work for jazz sextet for premiere at the 2010 Melbourne International Women’s Jazz Festival.


Sheet Music Published

Full composer representation with the Australian Music Centre, music available for purchase or loan.


Awards, Grants and Professional Recognition

2015: Awarded full composer representation with the Australian Music Centre

2013: Jenna Cave and Paul Weber recipients of a Contemporary Music Performance Grant from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

2012: Awarded a Women in Film in Television/APRA mentorship  with leading Australian screen composer Guy Gross

2010: Dear Miss Upstill awarded the runner’s up prize in the Sprogis Woods Jazz Composition Competition at the 2010 Canberra International Music Festival

2008: Recipient of a two-year University of Sydney Postgraduate Award Scholarship

2006: Peter and Lena Karmel Memorial Prize for the most outstanding graduate form the ANU School of Music

2006: Bernhard Neumann Memorial Prize for the most outstanding music graduate from the ANU, awarded on the basis of academic achievement and ability to contribute to the School of Music community

2006: Jenna Cave and Sally Greenaway recipients of a Friends of the ANU School of Music grant to assist with production costs on their album release Take it in Colour.


Composer for Film and TV

2012: Commissioned composer for Blackbuster, a short comedy musical funded and developed with the assistance of ABC and Screen Australia. Featured at the 2012 Sydney International Film Festival and 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival as part of the BlackFella Films presentation. Broadcast on ABC TV.

2012: Commissioned to compose and arrange music in the pre-production phase of the The Very Trevor Ashley Show , a TV comedy pilot screened on SBS TV.

2011: Composer for Reflections on Manly Pool, a 17 minute documentary  featured at FlickerFest film festival 2013