Directed by Dr. Randall Reese, The Armstrong Jazz Ensemble of Armstrong State performs a wide-range of jazz styles. Marcus Roberts, Bob Berg, The Count Basie Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, The Airmen of Note and the Army Jazz Ambassadors are some of the notable guest performers who have appeared with The Armstrong Jazz Ensemble. There are several concerts, performed annually at the Armstrong Auditorium. The Ensemble also performs additional concerts around the Coastal Region. All university students are able to audition for a chance at membership.
Selwyn Birchwood is an incredibly talented and animated musician from Florida, specializing in high-octane blues. He is influenced by Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Buddy Guy. Birchwood started playing music at age 13 and ever since then has a message to spread and is passionate in doing so.
“There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than playing the blues, and I try to convey that with every song and with every performance.”
Birchwood won the International Blues Challenge, in 2013, beating 125 other bands and competitors from all over the globe. He is also the winner of the Albert King Guitarist of the Year Award.
The Selwyn Birchwood Band signed a contract with Intrepid Artists booking agency and has since been touring non-stop. They have performed at many festivals including The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, Springing The Blues Festival, The Tampa Bay Blues Festival, The North Atlantic Blues Festival, The King Biscuit Blues Festival. The band has also opened for Robert Cray and Buddy Guy.
“If I can play my music, travel the world, bring happiness to people, then I’m blessed and happy.” – Selwyn Birchwood
Carmen Bradford is an American jazz singer. She is the daughter of jazz musicians, Bobby Bradford and Melba Joyce. Ever since she was born, Carmen was surrounded by musical influence. She studied music at Huston-Tillotson College and sang professionally before scoring an open slot for the Count Basie Orchestra in 1982. Bradford sang with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1983 to 1991. In 1991 she went solo, releasing several albums under her own name.
The Eric Culberson Band consists of Jonathan Hill on bass, Larry Duff on the drums and Eric Culberson taking care of the vocals and guitar.
Eric Culberson has been playing music since the age of 6. After years of practice, he decided to start a band with some of his friends. In 1992, Culberson caught the attention of Kingsnake Records’ head, Bob Greenlee, and was signed as a solo artist. Since then he has performed in major festivals, toured the midwest and even played a bit in Europe. In 1998, Culberson opened Savannah Blues, a live-music nightclub. Some notable guests to have graced the Savannah Blues stage include, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, Dick Dale, Bobby Blue Bland, Sean Costello, (a pre-Allman Brothers) Derek Trucks, “Hillbilly Jazz” fiddler Vassar Clements, Widespread Panic associates Bloodkin.
For the past 20-years, Jonathan Hill has been on the road, touring and recording music. His style ranges from country to the blues. Hill started playing music at age 4. His parents were music teachers, so Hill grew up listening to classical music. His first instrument was the violin. But as he grew, so did his taste in music. He was heavily influenced by rock music and ended up teaching himself guitar, harmonica and bass.
Larry Duff hails from Charlotte, North Carolina. Growing up, Duff played guitar and drums in church. In 1970, Duff had his first professional performance alongside David Ruffin. Duff has toured with Denise LaSalle, Clarence Carter, Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters, Mary Wells, Chairmen Of The Board, Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, David Sanborn, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, James Taylor and Quincy Jones.
The Georgia Southern Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dr. Rick Mason, is a 20-member big-band. They perform at least four concerts every year on the Georgia Southern campus. Their repertoire ranges from big-band staples to contemporary and original jazz compositions. Past special guest performers include Bobby Shew, Tom Malone and Jon Faddis.
Musical ambassador and interpreter of “America’s” music, Wycliffe Gordon is one of the world’s most renown and award-winning jazz trombonists touring today. His signature sound and mastery of the plunger mute have helped solidify his impressive musical career. Wycliffe tours as a soloist and with his quintet “Wycliffe Gordon & His International All-Stars,” headlining at legendary jazz venues and performing arts centers worldwide. In addition, Wycliffe has recorded or been featured on over 300 recordings, has composed and arranged hundred’s of compositions including the theme song for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and is a very passionate most sought-after educator.
Tenor Saxophonist Javon Jackson came into international prominence touring and recording with the legendary drummer Art Blakey as a member of his band, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Symbolizing a new generation of musicians that blended tradition with neo-jazz, Jackson went on to release 14 recordings as a band leader and tour and record over 135 CDs with jazz greats including Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Donald Byrd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Richard Davis, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller, JoAnne Brackeen, Stanley Turrentine, and Ben E. King. The Javon Jackson Band, blends many styles including jazz, funk, R&B and rock. In 2012, Jackson released two self produced recordings, Lucky 13 and Javon Jackson and WE FOUR, Celebrating John Coltrane. These CDs marked his return to acoustic jazz. For Lucky 13, Javon covers music by Stevie Wonder as well as newly composed original material and is joined by a special guest, Les McCann, for three selections. Javon Jackson and WE FOUR, Celebrating John Coltrane, is a tribute to the iconic saxophonist, composer and bandleader. The release is highlighted by an appearance by NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Cobb, drummer for both Coltrane and Miles Davis.
In addition to his performance schedule, Javon Jackson is a highly sought after
jazz educator, conducting clinics and lectures at universities throughout the
United States and abroad.
Eric Jones was born in Moultrie, Georgia, and started to play piano by ear at the age of five. At 11, Eric began studying trumpet. At 16 he started formal lessons on piano and within two years, he was awarded a piano scholarship to Andrew College. Eric went on to pursue his education at Armstrong Atlantic State University, studying under Dr. Kevin Hampton, graduating with a B.A. in Piano. In addition to teaching private lessons, composing and arranging, he completed his Masters in Composition from Georgia Southern University, where he studied under Dr. Martin Gendelman.
Eric has worked with many prominent artists including Grammy Awardwinning Esperanza Spalding, Stewart Copland of the Police and Keith Miller of the Metropolitan Opera. In 2011 Eric premiered his latest work, “Songs of Creation,” which combines spiritual, jazz and African influences with the poem of James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation.” Eric is the pianist with the Savannah Jazz Orchestra and performs with them annually at the Savannah Jazz Festival. Eric has also performed several times during Sunday concerts for Coastal Jazz Association. Currently Eric teaches at Savannah State University.
Randy Napoleon is a multi-talented jazz musician who has performed alongside some of the genre’s biggest names, including Bill Charlap, Natalie Cole, Monty Alexander, Houston Person, Rodney Whitaker, Melissa Morgan, Aaron Diehl, Josh Brown, Dmitry Baevsky, Jared Gold, Etienne Charles, Mike Dease, Sara Gazarek, Brianna Thomas, Bootsie Barnes, Mike Karn, Eric Comstock. Will and Pete Anderson, and Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. Napoleon also works as an assistant professor at Michigan State University, where he teaches jazz guitar. He is a composer and arranger for singers, big bands and small combos. Napoleon currently has four records out as a leader, his newest release being Soon.
The Palmetto Latin Orchestra is an 11-piece Latin band that specializes in “Musica Tropical”. Their repertoire also consists of Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, Bachata and Latin Jazz. They are based out of South Carolina, and play up and down the Southeast coast. Members include; singers, Juan “Cuto” Lanzot and David Ramos; David “Sax Rodrigues, Ozzie Arroyo, Clarence Sumpter, Carol Scott, Carlton Payne on the horns; and contributing to the rhythm are Rene Muniz, Nando Rodriguez, Papito Pops Garcia and Tito Rodriguez.
The Presidents, a powerhouse of talent that includes Howard Paul (President of Benedetto Guitars) on guitar, Rick Drumm (President of D’Addario) on drums and Jason Gano (Vice President of Sales at Marshall USA) on bass.
Howard Paul is a 2011 inductee of the Savannah/Coastal Jazz Hall of Fame and chairman of the Savannah Jazz Festival. Paul performs internationally at jazz clubs and night clubs, holds lectures at universities, and collaborates with various artists.
Jason Gano has performed throughout the USA and Canada alongside other talented jazz musicians like Mike Stern, Mark Pender (Conan O’Brien Show), Michael Feinstein, John Faddis, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, The Des Moines Big Band and the TC Rodgers Orchestra. Gano is currently performing in and around the Washington/Baltimore area with the Don Junker Big Band, Big Band Caliente, Swinglab, The Jerry Lynn Trio and the Marty Knepp Trio.
Rick Drumm has been in the music product industry for over 32-years. Drumm was part of the US Air Force NORAD Band and Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, playing the drums. He was a student of Ed Shaugnessy (drummer of the Johnny Carson Tonight Show) and Sonny Igoe (CBS staff drummer for the Ed Sullivan Show and the Jackie Gleason Show). Drumm currently plays professionally alongside Vic Juris (guitarist), Frank Catalano (jazz saxophonist), and Randy Brecker (trumpet player extraordinaire).
Savannah Arts Academy is a magnet school that was established in 1999. It is part of the Savannah-Chatham county public school system. At the academy, students audition for enrollment in their desired major. SkyeLite Jazz Band is one of the school’s shining achievements. SkyeLite Jazz band has performed many shows, including a 10-day tour in China in 2004 and a performance in San Francisco for the National School Board Association in 2007.
Andy Snitzer has been on the scene for more than fifteen years. He has traveled the world as a soloist and horn section anchor alongside Paul Simon. Throughout 2014 and 2015, Snitzer performed with the “On Stage Together Tour”, which featured the legendary Sting. Snitzer also toured as a saxophonist through the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.
His most recent albums include Traveler (2011), The Rhythm (2013) and American Beauty (2015). Snitzer has worked with many globally-known artists like Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Beck, Jay-Z, Panic at the Disco, Christina Aguilera and many more.
“My career has been a fascinating journey in so many ways and it’s been a privilege working with and learning from some of the world’s most legendary artists and innovators. I can’t overestimate the benefit of being able to watch Paul Simon work, up close. It took a while but on my recent releases I’m finally operating at a level that reflects everything I’ve been able to learn from masters like Paul.” – Andy Snitzer
The University of North Florida’s Jazz Ensemble 1 is directed by J.B. Scott. Jazz Ensemble 1 is the flagship ensemble of the University of North Florida Jazz Studies Program. Legendary alto-saxophonist, Bunky Green is head of the program. Jazz Ensemble 1 has the reputation of being one of the finest collegiate jazz ensembles worldwide. The Ensemble has won many individual and group awards. The Ensemble has been publicly acknowledged by publications like, Cadence, Jazz Times, Jazz Educators Journal and Downbeat. Jazz Ensemble 1 The Ensemble has performed in Atlanta at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, The Suncoast Jazz Festival in Tampa, The Mobile Jazz Festival, The Savannah Jazz Festival and annually at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
Victor Wainwright is a musical jack-of-all-trades. He started his career over a decade ago as a honky-tonk rock n’ roller. Most recently he’s been showcasing his passion for the blues. His love for music has sent him all over the world. Wainwright is a composer, producer, vocalist, piano player, and award-winning entertainer.