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Don Zentz

Director of Jazz Studies / Band Faculty - Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

Elected to the Midwest Board: 2024

 has taught instrumental music at all levels in education over the past four decades, including leadership in the arts.  An honor graduate of Valdosta State University, Don is currently the Director of Jazz Studies and serves on the band faculty at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida where he teaches and directs a myriad of different music classes and ensembles.  Don taught for thirteen years at the collegiate level as an Associate Professor of Music at the University of North Florida and Valdosta State University, and earlier at Florida Community College at Jacksonville. 

Don has long been recognized as a leader in jazz education since being hired onto the jazz faculty at the University of North Florida by program founder Rich Matteson in 1990.  His jazz ensembles have performed at national conferences that include The Midwest Clinic, Jazz Educators Network, and the International Association of Jazz Educators.  Under his direction, the UNF Jazz Ensemble won the National Collegiate Jazz Festival, took top honors at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival, and appeared on the international stage for the first time at the major jazz festivals in Europe.  His high school and collegiate jazz ensembles have received DownBeat Student Music Award citations.  Most recently, Don’s top jazz ensemble at Douglas Anderson was selected to perform at the 2023 Western International Band Clinic in Seattle.  The band won the 2022 and 2023 National Jazz Festival, 2021 Basically Basie and 2017 Swing Central national jazz band festivals. The fifty plus guest artists that have performed with Don’s jazz bands over the years truly reads like a “who’s who” in jazz.  These legends include Herbie Hancock, Arturo Sandoval, Terry Gibbs, Ellis Marsalis, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Eddie Daniels, Joe Lovano, Ernie Watts, and Maria Schneider.

Don enjoys much activity as a clinician, adjudicator, and performer in both traditional and jazz idioms.  He has directed the All-State Jazz Bands of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Maine, and the Delaware All-State Symphonic Band.  He serves on the Jazz Committee of the Florida Bandmasters Association and leads jazz band adjudicator recertification sessions.   For over twenty years, Don was a per service saxophonist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and remains a top call player throughout the southeastern United States.  He has been a Keilwerth Saxophones performing artist since 1995.  He served two terms as president of the Florida Unit of IAJE and was responsible for creating and implementing a State Jazz Workshop.  UNF named Don an Outstanding Professor in 1996 and DownBeat Magazine awarded him their Jazz Education Achievement Award in 1999.  Just recently, Don received the 2024 John LaPorta Jazz Educator Award from JEN and joined a select group of Jacksonville area jazz legends by being inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame in 2022.  Also in 2022, the National Jazz Festival selected Don as their Jazz Educator of the Year in recognition of his professional standard of excellence, expertise, and a career centered on student achievement at the highest level.  Don is a member of Phi Beta Mu, an honorary fraternity for band directors.

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