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December, 19, 2024
01:30 PM - 02:30 PM




High School Jazz Ensemble


Conductor Thumb
Don Zentz

Performer Details

Performer Bio Synopsis

The jazz program at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts has long enjoyed tremendous success and recognition on the national stage, and the tradition continues. Jazz is a component of the band program proper. Our philosophic mission is nurture comprehensive musicianship with our students. In 2016, Don Zentz assumed the reins of the jazz program from retiring founding director Ace Martin. Martin had led the DA Jazz Ensemble to top honors at the 2006 Essentially Ellington competition in New York City, as chronicled in the movie “Chops”. Zentz had been the Director of Fine and Performing Arts at The Bolles School in Jacksonville for a dozen years prior and, previous to this post, had received much acclaim for his work in jazz education at the University of North Florida, Valdosta State University, and Florida Community College at Jacksonville. Under Zentz’s leadership over the past nine years at Douglas Anderson, students within the jazz element of the band program have amassed significant achievements. These accomplishments serve as marks of excellence in the world of music education and most remarkable is the number of recognitions in recent times. For the past two years, the Douglas Anderson SOTA Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo won the National Jazz Festival for high school jazz bands with Zentz being named Jazz Educator of the Year in 2022. DownBeat Magazine has recognized the DA flagship jazz ensemble as one of the top high school jazz bands in the country via their Student Music Awards. This was the eighth consecutive year that DA Jazz Ensemble I either won their category or placed runner-up. Individual student accomplishments include selection to the national NYO Jazz Ensemble sponsored by Carnegie Hall, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra affiliated with the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the NafME national honor jazz ensemble. Each year, a handful of DA jazz students are selected to the Florida All-State Jazz Band. In the Fall of 2021, the DA Jazz Combo received its first invitation to perform on the national stage - the 2022 Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference in Dallas. The six-piece combo was formed as part of the DA jazz program the year prior. The DA Jazz Ensemble I performed at the 2023 Western International Band Clinic in Seattle, 2023 JEN/Orlando, 2017 JEN/New Orleans, and The Midwest Clinic in Chicago later that year. Other noted national achievements include winning the 2021 Basically Basie and 2017 Swing Central national jazz band competitions. Every other year a major guest artist performs on the DA Spring Jazz Night. Ernie Watts, John Fedchock, and Scotty Barnhart have been past artists with Mike Tomaro contracted for Spring of this school year. The DA Jazz Ensemble I opens for the Great American Jazz Series at the University of North Florida each October and performs with their guest artist. These artists have included Steven Feifke, Joel Frahm, Jim McNeeley, Gary Lindsay, and Dave Steinmeyer. The Douglas Anderson SOTA has a tremendous relationship with the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Noted Douglas Anderson jazz alumni include Jamison Ross, Bob Reynolds, Ulysses Owens, Alphonso Horne, Theo Coker, Owen Broder, Barry Cooper, and Daniel Dickinson.

Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble I

Conductor's Bio

Don Zentz is in his 40th year of teaching instrumental music at every level in education. He has earned a remarkable reputation throughout his career for consistently exhibiting a commitment and dedication to excellence, musicianship of the highest order, consummate professionalism and, most importantly, a student-centered philosophy and approach to teaching. He is an honor graduate of Valdosta State University where he earned a B.M. in music education with jazz studies emphasis, and a M.M.E. Don is in his tenth year as the Director of Jazz Studies at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (high school) in Jacksonville, FL. The flagship of the jazz program is Jazz Ensemble I. Under Don’s direction, the band has been incredibly successful at the national level having won the National Jazz Festival the past two years, Basically Basie, Swing Central, DownBeat Awards every year, and being selected to perform at conferences that include The Midwest Clinic and Jazz Education Network (New Orleans/Dallas/Orlando). Individual student awards have been many and include NYO Jazz, Music for All, and Next Gen Jazz Orchestra selection. Don was hired by jazz education pioneer Rich Matteson in 1990 to teach as an Associate Professor of Music on the jazz faculty at the University of North Florida (Jacksonville, FL). As the director of the top jazz ensemble at UNF, Don produced two critically acclaimed CD’s with the band, won the National Collegiate Jazz Festival, appeared at several IAJE conferences, received DownBeat Student Music Awards, and brought the band and jazz program to international awareness for the first time by performing at some of Europe’s most prestigious jazz festivals. As the artistic director and administrator of the Great American Jazz Series at UNF, his band performed in concert with a list of over fifty jazz artists that reads like a “who’s who” in jazz. These include Herbie Hancock, Arturo Sandoval, Maria Schneider, Joe Lovano, Terry Gibbs, Diane Schuur, Eddie Daniels, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Don was named an Outstanding Undergraduate Professor at UNF in 1996 and received a TIP Award from the Florida Board of Regents the following year for excellence in teaching. Don has directed the All-State Jazz Bands of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Maine. He has been a Keilwerth Saxophones Performing Artist since 1995. For over 20 years, he was a per service saxophonist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He served two terms as president of the Florida Unit of IAJE and instituted a state jazz workshop for high school students. He has been an FBA jazz adjudicator for over 30 years and currently leads the jazz recertification seminars. In 1999, DownBeat Magazine awarded Don their Jazz Education Achievement Award primarily for his work at the University of North Florida, Florida Community College at Jacksonville, and leading the jazz division of the Georgia Governors Honors Program. In 2022, Don was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame and named Jazz Educator of the Year by the National Jazz Festival. This past year, the Jazz Education Network selected Don as the recipient of their John LaPorta Jazz Educator Award. Don’s career reveals a deep passion for both the teaching and performing of music, and a commitment to kids! He credits his successes to his mentors – Bob Greenhaw, Rich Matteson, and Joe David – and to his loving wife of 39 years, Laurie.