49th Annual PSU Jazz Festival

March 3, 2023

2023 Jazz Festival Shcedule (PDF)

2023 Jazz Festival Application (Word | PDF)

For additional information Email Robert Kehle or call 620-235-4474

PSU Jazz Festival
c/o Department of Music
Pittsburg State University
1701 South Broadway
Pittsburg, KS 66762

Phone 620-235-4466
Fax 620-235-6582


The PSU Jazz Festival

Starting in 1968 with the First Annual Jazz Festival Concert in Carney Auditorium at Kansas State College of Pittsburg, this annual tradition has continued to present day.  

PSU’s long-running jazz festival is an opportunity for area junior high school, high school and community college groups to perform for and receive ratings from renowned jazz educators from across the country.

Bob Kehle, a member of the faculty in PSU’s Department of Music, directs the university’s jazz studies program and has organized the Jazz Festival since 1978. The festival was founded by current Music Department Chairman Rusty Jones in 1974.

“What makes the PSU Jazz Festival such a great event is the opportunity for aspiring young jazz musicians to perform for and learn from some of the finest jazz educators in the U.S.,” Kehle said. “It is a testament to the strength of the Jazz Festival that so many great jazz educators are eager to participate in this event.”

The festival’s history and reputation is one big reason that it draws so many participants from such a wide area including Kansas City, Wichita, Tulsa, and Springfield are registered, as well as many from the immediate four-state area, Kehle said.

  • 2023 - 49th Annual PSU Jazz Festival
  • 2022 - 48th Annual PSU Jazz Festival
  • 2021 - 47th Annual PSU Jazz Festival
  • 2020 - 46th Annual PSU Jazz Festival
  • 2019 - 45th Annual PSU Jazz Festival featuring The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
  • 2018 - 44th Annual PSU Jazz Festival with Stan Kenton Alumni Band directed by Mike Vax
  • 2017 - 43rd Annual Jazz Festival with the Count Basie Orchestra
  • 2016 - 42nd Annual with Doc Severinsen
  • 2015 - 41st Annual with DIVA
  • 2014 - 40th Annual with Bob Mintzer Big Band
  • 2013 - 39th Annual with Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band
  • 2012 - 38th Annual with Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
  • 2011 - 37th Annual with The Jazz Ambassadors
  • 2010 - 36th Annual with John Fedchock New York Big Band
  • 2009 - 35th Annual with Eric Marienthal
  • 1968 First Annual Jazz Festival Concert in Carney Auditorium presented by the Kansas State College of Pittsburg

March 3, 2023

Wycliffe Gordon  

2023-wycliffe-crossed-hornsWycliffe Gordon experiences an impressive career touring the world performing to great acclaim from audiences and critics alike.  

Jazz Journalists Association named him 2020 “Trombonist of the Year” for the record-breaking 13th time, and he’s topped Downbeat Critics Poll for “Best Trombone” again for an unprecedented six times (2020, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013 & 2012). Last year he was the recipient of the “Louie Award”, the International Trombone Award and the Satchmo Award, among others. Wycliffe is a prolific recording artist and is extremely popular for his unmatched signature sound, plunger technique and unique vocals. He can be heard on hundreds of recordings, soundtracks, live DVD’s and documentaries.  

March 4th 2022

2022-jazz-festival-airmen-of-noteThe Airmen of Note is the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., it is one of six musical ensembles that form The U.S. Air Force Band. Created in 1950 to continue the tradition of Major Glenn Miller's Army Air Forces dance band, the current band consists of 18 active-duty musicians, including one vocalist. Through the years, the Airmen of Note has presented its own brand of big band jazz as well as more contemporary forms of jazz to audiences via annual tours across the United States, deployments around the world, and local performances throughout metropolitan Washington D.C. For smaller, more intimate venues, the Airmen of Note Combo and various individual musicians perform apart from the full band to support military and civilian ceremonial and diplomatic events. 

Their commitment to musical excellence has earned the foremost jazz artists’ respect worldwide, leading to many collaborative performances and recordings with such luminaries as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, and Doc Severinsen. In 1990, the Airmen of Note established the Jazz Heritage Series, featuring the “Note” in concert with legendary icons of jazz. The series broadcasts to millions over National Public Radio, independent jazz radio stations, satellite radio services, and the internet. Additionally, the “Note” produces and delivers recorded music to millions of fans worldwide through hundreds of media outlets. One of the group's holiday recordings, "Cool Yule," reached #2 on the JazzWeek jazz chart. 

As part of The U.S. Air Force Band, the Airmen of Note’s mission is to HONOR those who have served, INSPIRE American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and CONNECT with the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States. The excellence demonstrated by the Airmen of Note reflects the excellence displayed by all Airmen stationed worldwide, whose selfless service and sacrifices ensure the freedoms enjoyed by citizens of the United States of America. 

The 2021 PSU Jazz Festival was an online adjudicated event due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

2020 Kubis BandMarch 6th, 2020

Perhaps the hottest of the L.A. jazz bands is the Tom Kubis Big Band. Featuring first call studio players the group performs often at Don The Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, CA. Seldom touring this is a rare chance to hear this fabulous group live outside of the greater L.A. area. Their seven CDs are a defining library of the contemporary big band sound.

Led by woodwind specialist, composer/arranger Tom Kubis, the band features his music which now numbers over 1500 works. “Tom's playing, arranging and sequencing skills have taken him all over the world for concerts and clinics. As the Los Angeles Times puts it, "His charts are crisp and swinging are finely crafted with superbly linked written passages that flow with tremendous urgency and drive". (eJazz Lines)

Tom’s musical arrangements define the contemporary big band sound and have been performed at virtually every major jazz festival in the world including the Playboy Jazz Festival, the Montreaux Jazz Festival and the Berkeley Jazz Festival to name a few. His charts have been played in just about any place or city that has a big band. There are literally hundreds of CDs available where Tom's arrangements can be heard from college to professional bands.

Hear the band on Youtube:

Take Me Out to the Ball Game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0k-2Fn99w4

Samba Dees Godda Do It https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UmYo0LOToE&list=PLIknrgm-ZiIo1XcG-3_hgMmDsnvCYj7TN&index=3&t=0s

Fast Cars & Fascinating Women https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CytgKQBoawk&list=PLIknrgm-ZiIo1XcG-3_hgMmDsnvCYj7TN&index=14

Oh Holy Night https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4mbbpnlujc

Vanguard Jazz OrchestraThe Vanguard Jazz Orchestra began its life as the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra in 1966.

The world-famous Village Vanguard jazz club in New York City booked the newly formed band for three Monday nights that February. Those were wildly successful and the engagement was extended indefinitely. The Village Vanguard’s owner, Max Gordon, told Mel Lewis, “We’ll keep it going until it tapers off.”

Over half a century and more than 2700 Monday nights later, it still hasn’t. The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra stands apart from all other modern ensembles of its kind and is still as strong and vital as ever.

From the very beginning, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra captivated the jazz world with the fresh sound of Jones’ writing, Lewis’ incredible command of the ensemble and an entirely new approach to the big band genre. The band emphasized a “small group within the big band” concept, allowing its many top-flight jazz soloists to stretch out and play much longer than was previously typical in large ensembles.

Jones and Lewis enjoyed a very fruitful thirteen-year partnership, which produced fifteen albums, a number of world tours and a wealth of compositions that have become standard big band fare, still delighting audiences and challenging even the world’s best jazz musicians to this day.

When Jones unexpectedly moved to Denmark in 1979, Lewis kept the band together, changed its name and became the sole leader. The Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra continued to perform the music of Thad Jones, but the legendary Bob Brookmeyer was recruited as musical director and his groundbreaking compositions provided an entirely new sonic direction for the band. Several other composers contributed new music to the book (including Bob Mintzer and Jim McNeely) and, under Lewis’ leadership, the band added another nine albums to its credits.

After Lewis passed away in 1990, the band became the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. With Jim McNeely as its composer in residence since 1995, the VJO has continued to honor the legacy established by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, but all the while continuing to push the boundaries of the big band idiom.

Over half of the albums (17 out of 32) in the band’s robust discography have been nominated for Grammys, with two of them winning the coveted award. In addition, the orchestra has performed on five continents and has won eleven “Best Big Band” awards in the DownBeat magazine Readers and Critics Polls.

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra’s regular Monday night gig at the Village Vanguard is the longest-running steady engagement in the history of jazz.

Alumni from the 1956 – 1978 Stan Kenton Orchestras come together to perform for festivals, clinics, concerts, cruises and dances. The band makes tours around the United States every year, and does jazz cruises and festivals. We perform some of the well-known music of the Stan Kenton Orchestra; plus in keeping with Stan’s insistence on not just performing nostalgia type music, we also perform fresh new material written in the Kenton style, as well as original material written by members of the Band. We are NOT trying to be the “Stan Kenton Orchestra,” but we are carrying on his tradition of dedication to creative music and to jazz education.

Leader Mike Vax is a product of the City of Oakland, CA, and the Oakland Public Schools, having graduated from Oakland High School in 1960. He has led a big band off and on since his days at College of the Pacific over 45 years ago. A few of his credits include being first trumpet, soloist and road manager of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, as well as being co-leader while Mr. Kenton was recovering from surgery; leading the Dukes of Dixieland in New Orleans; producing and/or music directing for over 30 jazz festivals; and performing workshops for more than 2000 high schools, colleges and universities all over the world. He is an International Artist for the GETZEN COMPANY.

The goals of the big band are to perform meaningful music, talk about the importance of the jazz heritage in America, bring jazz music to young people, and to offer our audiences a relaxed, entertaining atmosphere.

An American jazz legend comes to Pittsburg on Friday, March 3, 2017 when the Count Basie Orchestra, Directed by Scotty Barnhart performs in Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall, 1711 S. Homer, Pittsburg KS 66762. The concert, sponsored by the PSU Music Department, The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, and the PSU Student Government Association, will begin at 7:30 p.m. The concert is the final event on a very busy 43rd Annual PSU Jazz Festival schedule that has attracted over 60 high school, middle school, and community college jazz bands.

The famed Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scott Barnhart is sure to be the musical highlight of the year. Winners of more than 17 Grammies and the object of numerous special appearances and command performances for presidents and kings, the Count Basie Orchestra has become an American jazz icon. Their recordings span whole generations. Today, the Count Basie Orchestra includes 19 performers committed to upholding and advancing this "American Institution." They are in demand for world tours and recordings, have won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, and continue to accumulate awards and special recognition.

Because seating is limited you need to get ticket requests in quickly and accurately. We have only 800 student seats available and often have more requests that number. Please request tickets for students, yourself, student teacher or assistant if applicable, coach driver and limit the number of chaperones. Non-chaperones, parents, or other interested people may be purchase tickets at the PSU ticket office 620-235-4796.

The Pittsburg State University Jazz Ensemble One, under the direction of PSU faculty member and festival director Bob Kehle, will open the concert.

"The Count Basie Orchestra mark appears under license from the William J. Basie Trust”

The Count Basie Orchestra webpage

"Heeeeere’s Johnny!” That lead-in, followed by a big band trumpet blast, was the landmark of late night television for three decades. The ‘Johnny’ was Johnny Carson, the announcer was Ed McMahon and the bandleader was Doc Severinsen. Beginning in October 1962, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson ruled the night air for thirty years. On May 22, 1992, it came to an end…

Within a week of the final telecast, Doc Severinsen and His Big Band were on the road, and to this day, audiences across America love and respect Doc and his big band, not just because he shared their living room with them for so many years, but because of Doc’s love of the Big Band repertoire.  His musicianship keeps this iconic American music fresh to this day. Their repertoire includes Ellington and Basie standards, pop, jazz, ballads, big band classics and, of course, The Tonight Show theme.  Severinsen can still blow hard with his horn, and hit the high notes, a result of his continued commitment to the practice studio and the refinement of his craft. But as a band leader, Doc continues to surround himself with the best in the business, and he’s only too happy to give them a turn in the spotlight.

A Grammy award winner, Doc has made more than 30 albums–from big band to jazz-fusion to classical. Two critically acclaimed Telarc CDs with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra showcase his multifaceted talents from Bach to ballads.  The Very Best of Doc Severinsen reprises fifteen of Doc’s signature pieces. His other recordings include Unforgettably Doc with the Cincinnati Pops on Telarc, and the Grammy nominated Once More With Feeling on Amherst. He received a Grammy Award for “Best Jazz instrumental Performance – Big Band” for his recording of Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band-Volume I.

In 2006, Doc moved to San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico, ostensibly to retire from performance. Within weeks, he was jamming with the magnificent guitarist Gil Gutierrez.  He now tours regularly with Gil in a quintet called The San Miguel Five, performing a mix of Latin and Gypsy jazz and standards, to exceptional acclaim. They just released their most current CD, Oblivion, in January 2014.

Severinsen’s accomplishments began in his hometown of Arlington, Oregon, population: 600. Carl H Severinsen was born on July 7th, 1927, and was nicknamed “Little Doc” after his father, Dr. Carl Severinsen a dentist. Little Doc had originally wanted to play the trombone. But Doc Sr., a gifted amateur violinist, urged him to follow in his father’s footsteps. The Doc Jr. insisted on the trombone, which turned out to be unavailable in tiny Arlington’s music store.  And so, a trumpet it would be. A week later, with the help of his father and a manual of instructions, the seven-year-old was so good that he was invited to join the high school band. At the age of twelve, Little Doc won the Music Educator’s National Contest and, while still in high school, was hired to go on the road with the famous Ted Fio Rito Orchestra.  However, his stay with the group was cut short by the draft. He served in the Army during World War II and following his discharge, landed a spot with the Charlie Barnett Band. When this band broke up, Severinsen toured with the Tommy Dorsey, then, the Benny Goodman bands in the late 40's.

After his days with Barnett and Dorsey, Doc arrived in New York City in 1949 to become a staff musician for NBC. After years of playing with NBC’s many studio bands, Doc was invited to play a gig in the highly respected Tonight Show Band.  The band leader at the time, Skitch Henderson, asked him to join that band in 1962 in the first trumpet chair. Five years later, Doc became the Music Director for The Tonight Show and the rest is history.  His loyalty to Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon never faltered, and the warm camaraderie between the three was an enormous part of the show’s success.  When Johnny decided to retire from The Tonight Show, Doc and Ed said their goodbyes as well.  Of course, free from the nightly grind of the TV studio, Doc Severinsen had far more time to expand his musical horizons and continues to keep an extensive touring schedule.

In addition to his San Miguel 5 appearances, Doc tours regularly with his own Big Band and continues to perform with symphony orchestras all over the country.  Over the years has been Principal Pops Conductor with the Phoenix Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the Pacific Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Doc performs on a S.E. Shires Severinsen Destino III, a trumpet he developed with Steve Shires and the S.E. Shires Company in Massachusetts.  The factory has 25 craftsmen who are professional, working brass players and totally understand what is involved in making great brass instruments.  The S.E. Shires Company features a line of trumpets that includes the S.E. Shires Severinsen Destino III which was developed through Doc’s supervision until his exacting standards of quality and sound were achieved.  Doc continues to make regular visits to the factory.

Today, Doc has not lost his flair for the outrageous fashion statement or his trademark wit. But his gregarious nature has never interfered with the fact that he has been one of the greatest trumpeters and musicians of the last 60 years, respected in the worlds of classical music, jazz, big band, and now even world music.  In the end, Doc Severinsen has transcended his celebrity, and rejoiced in his remarkable ability to simply play his trumpet as well as he can.  Which has proven to be good enough for the millions of people who count themselves his fans.

Featuring 15 of the finest musicians of our time, lights up the stage with their music and personalities, riveting audiences and commanding standing ovations. Critics have called this gifted, rowdy, tour de force —“vibrant,” “magnetic,” “electrifying,” “smokin’,” and “timeless.” DIVA takes the traditional boundaries of jazz and swing and pushes them to the outermost limits. Recorded over 12 albums, including the critically-acclaimed Johnny Mandel: The Man and his Music, conducted by Johnny Mandel and recorded live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Performed at Carnegie Hall with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops. Raised the roof at the Playboy Jazz Festival, Tanglewood, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Kennedy Center’s “Women in Jazz” and Verizon Jazz at Lincoln Center.

--Pleased crowds at Manhattan’s Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland, and the Apollo Theater.
--Wowed audiences at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, Manchester
--Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, Symphony Halls in St. Louis,
--Philadelphia and Cleveland, and the Cinegrill in Hollywood.
--Featured in the 2013 award-winning documentary The Girls in the Band.

View a video clip of DIVA


DIVA attracts multi-generational audiences, offering everything from jazz standards, swing and pop music, to classical standards rewritten for modern times. The band’s music is fresh and soulful —transporting audiences who cannot help but “swing” into their unique and vibrant world. DIVA is a powerful blend of musical genius and bold personalities.The band, based in New York City, is led by the extraordinarily talented drummer, Dr. Sherrie Maricle, jazz artist, composer, teacher and music director. Drawing on a broad range of experiences, DIVA’s brilliant band members compose and play different genres of music; many play several instruments, and all bring an unbridled, compelling energy to their performances. Arrangements are written exclusively for DIVA by band members or prestigious composers and comprise a library of more than 400 songs.
DIVA has recorded over 12 albums, including the critically-acclaimed
Johnny Mandel: The Man and his Music, recorded live at Dizzy’s Club
Coca-Cola and conducted by Mandel himself. Other DIVA recordings include Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, featuring vocalist Carmen Bradford (2008); TNT — Tommy Newsom Tribute, a compilation of charts the late Mr. Newsom arranged exclusively for DIVA (2005); Live in Concert (2002); I Believe in You (1999); Leave It To DIVA (1997); and Something’s Coming (1995). Visit the “Sounds” page for track lists and audio samples. DIVA has enjoyed International appearances at Le Meridien Hotel in Paris, France; Teatro de Sistina in Rome, Italy; the Berlin Jazz Festival in Germany; Salzburg Music Festival in Austria; Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland; Montreal and Ottawa International Jazz Festivals in Canada; Bogota International Jazz Festival in Colombia; Jamaica Jazz Festival; Zagreb Jazz Festival in Croatia; and the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland. They’ve played the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium and have been featured many times on CNN Art’s Break and on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, and been honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame with James Brown, James Taylor, and John Denver.

What the Critics Are Saying...
“The band punched, kicked, roared and swung with a disciplined abandon and an unaffected joie de vivre.”
— Jazz Times
“DIVA played with the vigor and complexity...”
— The Washington Post
“Everybody in that band was powerful... Their set, powered by drummer-leader Sherrie Maricle, smoked.” [In concert with Nancy Wilson]
— The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
“The band navigated through music that transcended boundaries of time and style.” [In concert with Diane Schuur]
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Saxophonist Bob Mintzer is a twenty year member of the Grammy award winning Yellowjackets who also leads a Grammy winning Big Band, travels with his own Quartet, and plays with numerous bands globally.

A respected educator, Bob is the recipient of the Buzz McCoy endowed chair of jazz studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Based in Los Angeles, Bob continues to conduct clinics and workshops worldwide. He has also written nearly twenty books which are an important part of the curriculum of Jazz education worldwide.

Bob writes for orchestra, concert band and big band, with over two hundred charts to his credit. His big band music is performed by groups all over the planet. Bob honed his big band writing and playing skills in the bands of Tito Puente, Buddy Rich and Thad Jones-Mel Lewis.

He has also written works for the National Symphony Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra of the Netherlands. WDR Big band in Cologne, HR Big Band in Frankfurt, and was commissioned to write a piece for concert band and tenor sax ("Go") by a consortium of 50 universities.

As an instrumentalist Bob has worked with Art Blakey, Jaco Pastorius, Sam Jones, Randy Brecker, Gil Evans, the Yellowjackets, GRP All Star Big Band, Mike Manieri, and The New York Philharmonic, to name a few. He has done session work for James Taylor, Steve Winwood, Queen, Donald Fagan, Milton Nascimento, and countless others.

"Playing music is a life-long commitment. There are always new things to consider and develop. I'm exhilarated and humbled by music on a daily basis, and plan to continue on this path until my last day on earth." These words pretty much sums up Bob Mintzer's approach to music.

Bob leads several musical lives that, at times, seem humanly impossible for one person to sustain. He is a 20 year member of the Grammy award winning Yellowjackets, leads his own Grammy winning big band, is the recipient of the Buzz McCoy endowed chair of jazz studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, does workshops all over the world, writes books on jazz, writes for orchestra, concert band, and big band, travels with his own quartet, and plays with numerous other bands around the globe. He is equally active in the composing, performing and educational fields.

Bob has written over 200 big band arrangements. His big band music is played over the world, and has influenced numerous big band writers. He honed his big band writing and playing skills in the bands of Tito Puente, Buddy Rich, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis. He has also written works for the National Symphony Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra of the Netherlands. WDR Big band in Cologne, HR Big Band in Frankfurt and was commissioned to write a piece for concert band and tenor sax (Go) by a consortium of 50 universities.

As an instrumentalist Bob has worked with Art Blakey, Jaco Pastorius, Sam Jones, Randy Brecker, Gil Evans, the Yellowjackets, GRP All Star Big Band, Mike Manieri, The New York Philharmonic, to name a few. He has done session work for James Taylor, Steve Winwood, Queen, Donald Fagan, Milton Nascimento, and countless others.

Bob has recorded some 30 solo projects and was awarded with 4 grammy nominations and a Grammy award for best large jazz ensemble recording in 2001 for Homage to Count Basie on the DMP label.

Bob currently resides in Los Angeles in the former house of composer Arnold Schoenberg (his first LA residence, 1934-1936), teaches at USC, travels 4 months out of the year, and, when at home, writes and practices constantly. He is generally considered one of the tenor saxophonists who came out the school of New York players in the 70's, which includes Michael Brecker, Bob Berg, David Liebman and Steve Grossman.

Video clip http://bobmintzer.com/videos.php


History has produced its share of great artists and great people—John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was both. As a performer, he left behind an incredible record of innovation and inspiration; as a composer, a broad repository of musical masterpieces; and as a man, a legion of friends, colleagues and compatriots who remember him with the same degree of love and esteem they reserve for his work.

The Dizzy Gillespie™ All-Star Big Band, a veritable who's who among jazz musicians, was formed in the summer of 1998 to perform Dizzy Gillespie's classic big band repertoire and continue the legacy left by the late master.  The band includes many Gillespie alumni including Dizzy's closest associates and collaborators, James Moody. Other alumni include Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath, Paquito D`Rivera, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Claudio Roditi, Douglas Purviance and the band's Executive Director, John Lee, Dizzy's longtime bassist.        ~Patrice Lee


The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra is the current title for a band that began life as the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra in 1966 and has performed continuously ever since.
The story is familiar but bears repeating that in 1966 cornetist, composer, arranger, Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis founded a band in New York. Having settled in New York after leaving their respective touring jobs with Basie and Kenton, Thad and Mel along with many of their colleagues needed an outlet for their creative energies and relief from the tedium of the studio work. With a handful of arrangements they approached legendary club owner Max Gordon and were booked at the Village Vanguard for 3 Mondays in February. Critical acclaim, awards and international success followed but in 1979, tired of frequent traveling and the economic uncertainty that even great jazz musicians endure in America, Thad left the band to accept leadership of the Danish Radio Orchestra in Copenhagen.
Mel decided to continue the band now billed as Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra and enlisted the talents of his old friend and former band member Bob Brookmeyer who, miraculously was just returning to active playing and composing in New York. The band not only survived but with Brookmeyer's writing continued the innovation and influence that Thad and Mel had began. Bob moved on to other projects and ultimately also settled in Europe, the new material coming from within the band now. In 1990 the band would endure a terrible blow when Mel Lewis died after a 5 year battle with cancer. For the members, all of whom had been there 5 years and several over 10, losing Mel was a deep family tragedy, for great bands invariably become families. They are also teams; and in this spirit decided to continue the band as a cooperative effort. (When asked who was "fronting" the band one of the veterans was heard snapping "...the music".)
So three weeks have become a permanent gig spanning over four decades and another name change; to the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Several of the current key members played for Thad, so the original precepts of sound and swinging are proudly held and displayed while the other original precepts of creativity and experimentation are nurtured and encouraged. The Village Vanguard is still a great place to be on a Monday night no matter which side of the bandstand you're on. The orchestra's recording titled, "The Way" - Music of Slide Hampton" won a Grammy in 2004 for "best arrangements for jazz orchestra".  2006-2007, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra performances in the U.S include the University of Arizona, Michigan State University, Kansas State University, Detroit's Symphony Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, University of Massachusetts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In the summer of 2007 the Vanguard returned to Europe performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland, the Imatra Big Band Festival in Finland, the Blue Note Records Festival in Belgium, and also gave performances in Italy and Germany. The orchestra began a yearly commitment to Assisi Jazz, a concert series in Assisi, Italy that incorporates the orchestra's education program "Precepts of Swing". Upcoming appearances include Clemson University, University of Florida Gainesville, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Shippensburg University and Princeton University. Their 2005 recording, "Up from the Skies" the music of ensemble's pianist, composer and arranger, Jim McNeely, was nominated for two Grammys including " best jazz ensemble." Their last new recording 'Monday Night at The Village Vanguard' receives a Grammy Nomination for the Best Instrumental Arrangement. (Bob Brookmeyer-St. Louis Blues) and a Grammy Award for the Best Large Jazz Ensemble.

Nick Marchione, Tanya Darby, Terell Stafford, Scott Wendholt - trumpet/flugelhorn
John Mosca, Luis Bonilla, Jason Jackson, Douglas Purviance - Trombones
Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes, Rich Perry, Ralph Lalama, Gary Smulyan - reeds
Jim McNeely, David Wong, John Riley - rhythm

*The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra's new CD Monday Night Live At The Village Vanguard On Planet Arts Recordings AVAILABLE NOW AT: PlanetArts.org and vanguardjazzorchestra.com
*Up From The Skies, Music of Jim McNeely NOMINATED FOR 2 GRAMMYS
*The Way, Music of Slide Hampton - 2005 GRAMMY  winner
*Can I Persuade You - 2003 GRAMMY nominee
*Thad Jones Legacy - 2001 AFIM winner
*Lickety Split, Music of Jim McNeely - 1999 GRAMMY
*To You - Tribute to Mel Lewis

The Jazz Ambassadors-America's Big Band is the official touring big band of the United States Army. This 19-member ensemble, formed in 1969, has received great acclaim both at home and abroad performing America's original art form, jazz.

Concerts by the Jazz Ambassadors are designed to entertain all types of audiences. Custom compositions and arrangements highlight the group's creative talent and gifted soloists. Their diverse repertoire includes big band swing, bebop, Latin, contemporary jazz, standards, popular tunes, Dixieland, vocals, and patriotic selections.

The band has appeared in all fifty states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, and throughout Europe. Notable performances include concerts at international jazz festivals in Montreux, Switzerland; Newport, Rhode Island; Toronto, Canada; Brussels, Belgium; and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands. In 1995, the Jazz Ambassadors performed in England, Wales, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. The band has also been featured in unique joint concerts with major orchestras, including the Detroit and Baltimore symphonies.

"From the opening opus until the last note of the second encore, the Jazz Ambassadors held the audience in its thrall...It required utmost constraint not to literally jump up and down to the rhythm."

The Statesman, New Delhi, India

Over the course of the past twenty years, virtuoso trombonist/arranger/ composer, John Fedchock has risen through the musical ranks to emerge as leader of one of the freshest, most exciting big bands in jazz. His 16-piece John Fedchock New York Big Band is comprised of alumni from major big bands, along with several of New York's finest players in the "modernist tradition". The group delights in performing many of Fedchock's own dynamic compositions and arrangements as well as more well-known standards, creating a sound that not only honors, but expands the tradition of the American big band.

The band's four CDs for the Reservoir Music label, "New York Big Band", "On The Edge", "No Nonsense", and "Up & Running", have all received high praise from critics and extraordinary success on national jazz radio charts. www.reservoirmusic.com In recognition of his formidable arranging skills on "No Nonsense", Fedchock was honored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with a 2003 Grammy Award nomination for "Best Instrumental Arrangement" for his exciting chart on "Caribbean Fire Dance." The JFNYBB's 2007 release, "Up & Running," spent eight weeks in jazz radio's Top Ten, with the New York Times applauding its "Cheerful Syncopation, Served With Spit-and-Polish Precision."

In addition to performances in New York, the band has also toured and performed abroad at international jazz festivals including the Jazz & Blues Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, the Imatra Jazz Festival in Imatra, Finland, and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival in Ontario, Canada. Regarded as one of the most perceptive and versatile trombonists on the scene today, Fedchock's reputation as an accomplished and resourceful composer/arranger is also widely acknowledged. His dense voicings, thick ensemble writing and unique, swinging lines have become his characteristic trademarks. "I'm a player who also writes," offers Fedchock modestly. But in truth, John Fedchock is a supremely gifted musician whose artistry will unquestionably have a hand in guiding and shaping the direction of big band music for the new millennium.


"John Fedchock's New York Big Band commands your attention and holds it. This band of peerless pros takes advantage of Fedchock's exciting arrangements."

"Fedchock is making a name for himself. His charts surge with the drive and momentum that always characterized Woody Herman's bands. And they are performed with bravura enthusiasm by a superb collection of players, executing the music with a particularly New York-tinged blend of conciseness and energy."

"This is big band music that's as much inspired by John Coltrane as Louis Armstrong."

"Fedchock is on his way to being accepted into the Hall Of Fame of Great Arrangers."

"The ensemble never misses a beat, while soloists are sharp and inventive. This is big band music that pays earnest homage to the past while advancing inflexibly toward the future."

"Fedchock is more than just a proficient soloist well-versed in big band idioms. The extroverted nature of his scores, the brisk interplay between his solo passages and his orchestral accompaniments and the radiant quality of his brass-choir writing amount to an unabashed celebration of the large band format."

"What an impressive ensemble the New York Big Band is, swinging with ease and assurance through Fedchock's demanding charts while unleashing enough firepower to blow the roof off any nearby structure."

"John Fedchock's music exemplifies some of the brighter orchestral writing for the big bands playing around these days. His harmonies and textures are colorful and always interesting. Furthermore, within the idiom of a modern big band, his music is jaunty, and it swings. The entire band plays with a bright sparkle, lending dignity and class to these intelligent big band arrangements."

"Fedchock has assembled a crackerjack roster of young and seasoned Big Apple musicians, and the writing and soloing will knock you into the next county."

"The New York Big Band is a finely lubricated, precise ensemble whose well-structured charts and sprightly solos are wonderfully reminiscent of the best work by Woody Herman's Herds."

"The next step for big band. John Fedchock takes tradition to a new place."

"With the force of a resounding shout chorus, John Fedchock's rocketing reputation as a bandleader and arranger continues to soar over Gotham and the rest of the jazz world on the strength of his finely tuned 16-piece New York Big Band."

"One of this band's greatest strengths is the variety of styles presented, including traditional, straight-ahead big band writing, as well as more progressive and innovative numbers. A cohesion is achieved amongst this variety by the mere fact that the band swings on every note."

"This is a wonderful band; long may it swing."

After graduating high school in Southern California in 1976, Eric Marienthal went on to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. There he studied with the legendary saxophone professor, Joe Viola. By the time he left Berklee, Eric had achieved the highest proficiency rating given by the school. In 1995, Eric was awarded the Berklee Distinguished Alumnus Award for outstanding achievements in contemporary music. He has since gone on to perform in over 65 different countries, recorded 11 solo CD's and has played on hundreds of records, films, television shows and commercial jingles.

Eric started his professional career in 1980 with famed New Orleans trumpeter Al Hurt. After returning to Los Angeles Eric became a member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band. He recorded 6 CD's with Chick's band and 2 of those CD's were Grammy award winners. Eric went on to perform with artists such as Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Aaron Neville, Johnny Mathis, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, David Benoit, The Rippingtons, The Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, Patti Austin, Lou Rawls, David Lee Roth, The Yellowjackets, B.B. King, Ramsey Louis, Patti Labelle, Olivia Newton-John, and many others.

Among Eric's 11 solo CD's, his latest is entitled "Got You Covered", on Peak Records. Six of the songs that Eric has recorded have made it to the top 10 of the National Contemporary Jazz Radio Charts and two have made it to #1. Eric's "Oasis" CD hit the top 5 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Shortly after that, Eric was voted as being one of the year's "Favorite Alto Sax Players" in Jazziz Magazine's Reader's Poll along with David Sanborn and Phil Woods.

Eric has also written 3 instructional books, "Comprehensive Jazz Studies & Exercises", The Ultimate Jazz Play Along" and "The Music Of Eric Marienthal" as well as 3 instructional videos, "Play Sax From Day One", "Modern Sax" and "Tricks Of The Trade", all published by Warner Bros. Publications which is now Alfred Publishing/Belwin Jazz.

Every summer for the past 8 years Eric has put on an annual fundraising concert for High Hopes. High Hopes is a non-profit organization in Orange County, California that works with people who have suffered traumatic head injuries. With the help of many guest artists who have donated their time to perform, these concerts to date have raise well over a half million dollars for this charity.    

View the program from the First Annual Jazz Festival held on March 2, 1968 at Kansas State College of Pittsburg.

Guest performers were Bud Brisbois, Joe Morello and Leon Breeden with performances from Dr. Millard M. Laing, Chairman of the Msic department of KCSP, Joe Hambrick, staff member at KSCP and Jazz Ensemble, and Paul Mazzacano, Director of Bands at KSCP.