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Jazz Studies Program

JSU Jazz and Jazz Faculty

JSU Jazz Faculty

Dr. Andy Nevala, Piano and Director of Jazz Studies

Dr. Andy Nevala currently directs Jazz Ensembles I, III, IV, The Latin Ensemble, and two combos, along with teaching several private jazz students. He was formerly the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at California State University, Stanislaus, where he conducted the Jazz Ensemble, Combos I-V, the Latin Ensemble, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and taught courses including Jazz Pedagogy for the Music Educator, Jazz Improvisation, Jazz History, Jazz Piano, Jazz Arranging, and Private Lessons to the upper-division Jazz Studies Majors.

Dr. Nevala has been recognized by Downbeat Magazine on 9 different occasions, winning individual Downbeat Music Awards for composition (2002), arranging (2003), and performing/directing (2000, 2000, 2002). He also maintains an active performance schedule in the San Francisco area and across the United States and Europe.

He is widely in demand as guest conductor and clinician, conducting the 2010 Campbell Union District Music Festival Jazz Ensemble in San Jose, CA, and serving as a clinician at the Delta College Jazz Festival (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), the Folsom High School Jazz Festival (2008, 2010), the CMEA Hanford Jazz Festival (2009), the Sacramento State University Jazz Festival (2008, 2009), and the Manteca High School Combo Festival (2010).

Having studied under Dr. John Davis, Chip Stephens, Art Lande, and Pat Bianci, Dr. Nevala holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Piano Pedagogy from the University of Colorado, Boulder, a Master of Music degree in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Northern Colorado, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Boise State University. His professional affiliations include ASCAP, JEN and AMA.



Chris Enghauser, Bass

Bassist Chris Enghauser earned a MM in Music Performance from The University Georgia, a BM in Music Performance from George Mason University, is a tenured bassist with the Macon Symphony Orchestra in Macon Georgia and Principal Bass of the Toccoa Symphony in Toccoa, Georgia. Teaching positions include Adjunct Professor of Double Bass at Georgia College and State University, Director of Bands at Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School in Athens, Georgia, Academic Program Specialist in the Jazz Studies Dept at the UGA, and Jazz/Rock Bass Instructor at the UGA Community Music School. Also at UGA, Chris has served as clinician for the UGA Jazz Festival, Jazz Band Director for the UGA Summer Music Camp, and co-coordinator of the UGA Bass Symposium. Chris' performing experience includes freelancing in a range of styles including jazz, rock, bluegrass, folk, and world music. Highlights include performing on rock legend Chuck Leavell's new CD Back to the Woods, which also features guitar legends John Mayer and Keith Richards.

 Chris recorded on jazz saxophonist Jeff Coffin's Commonality and jazz guitarist Mimi Fox's DVD Live at the Palladium which also features drummer Akira Tana. Chris performed with national Broadway tours of Pump Boys and Dinettes, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, Cole Porter's Anything Goes, and has performed with Bela Fleck, Roy Wooten, Victor Wooten, Sarah Evans, Paul McCandless, Randy Sabien, Randall Bramblett, Barbara Lamb, Mark Feldman, Chester Thompson, Jeff Mosier, David Greir, Mac Davis, Cecil Welch, Kenny Blackmon String Band, Augusta Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Rome Symphony, and Gainesville Symphony.

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Ben Weatherford, Guitar

Richmond, Virginia native Ben Weatherford started playing guitar at fourteen and began playing professionally at seventeen.  He continued his musical education with honors at Berklee College of Music after high school, performing with future Grammy winners John Mayer, Clay Cook and Nnenna Freelon.

Since moving to Georgia in 2003, Ben has been an active member of the Atlanta music and education community.  For over 12 years he has taught private lessons, small ensembles, improvisation, composition, and arranging.  Ben received a Master's degree in Jazz Studies from Georgia State University in 2011, where he was also a graduate assistant.

In 2012, Ben was hired as faculty in the music departments of Jacksonville State University in Alabama and Columbus State University in Georgia.  In addition to actively teaching and performing in the Atlanta area, he has experience in multiple music genres as well as receiving film scoring credit in the feature film Good Intentions and theater experience with the Atlanta Lyric Theater, The Wesleyan School, and Georgia Perimeter College

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Mr. Emrah Kotan


Emrah Kotan is a classically trained percussionist who came to the United States from his native Turkey and received a Master's degree in Jazz Studies from Georgia State University. His debut album, The New Anatolian Experience, is a collection of original compositions and arrangements that fuse world music and jazz, creating stylistically sophisticated vibes and a genuine model of personal artistic expression.


After playing some of the most renowned venues in the world such as the Istanbul Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival and The Blue Note in New York, Emrah is one of the most sought after musicians in the Atlanta music scene. His unique musical ability transcends many genres and cultures. He is involved in various musical projects, including his own, and is the drummer/percussionist for Grammy award winning artist, India.Arie.


Aside from performing, Emrah is an enthusiastic music educator who has conducted master classes and has taught many students over the years, some of which who have been awarded music scholarships by the colleges of their choice. Emrah teaches students of all ages privately and is the Director of the Jazz and World Percussion Ensembles at Agnes Scott College.  He lives in Atlanta, GA.


Emrah Kotan proudly endorses Pearl drums and percussion.



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Dr. Chris Probst

Dr. Christopher Probst teaches the trumpet studio at Jacksonville State. He also teaches Class Brass, coaches brass quintets, directs the trumpet ensemble, and assists in the Jazz Studies area.

Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Christopher Probst graduated from Lebanon Valley College of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in music education and a B.A. in trumpet performance. He received a Master’s degree in trumpet performance from the University of Arizona (Tucson) where he studied with Edward Reid. Dr. Probst completed a Master’s degree in jazz studies at Florida International University (Miami) where he studied with Arturo Sandoval, Sam Lussier, and Jim Hacker and completed his Doctorate in trumpet performance at the University of Georgia (Athens), studying with Fred Mills (formerly of the Canadian Brass) and Edward Sandor. In addition to his position at JSU, Dr. Probst teaches clinics, masterclasses, and private lessons throughout the Southeast.

A versatile musician, Dr. Probst has performed and/or recorded with many artists including: Arturo Sandoval, Dave Brubeck, Kevin Mahogany, Joe Alessi, Fred Mills, The Basel Brass Quintet, Belgian Brass Ensemble, Bobby Shew, The Four Tops, Ben Folds, Linda Rondstadt, Bulldog Brass Society, Georgia Brass Ensemble, Miami’s Band Orchestra, Orquesta MaCuba, Macon Symphony, Rome Symphony, The Pieces of Eight, Tucson Pops Orchestra, and the Catalina Chamber Orchestra. He has performed extensively throughout the US, as well as in Mexico, Canada, England, and China.


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Mr. Jamel Mitchell

Born on a hot LA summer day, in the backseat of his musician parents’ Buick Century, Jamel Mitchell arrived on his own terms. His father, the late James Mitchell, baritone saxophonist for the world-renowned Memphis Horns, encouraged his son to pursue a similar but more prescriptive yet individualized path. A graduate of Memphis’ Overton High School for the Performing Arts, Jamel honed his natural talent under the helm of seasoned professionals turned academics. Accepting a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Jamel went on to achieve a BA and MA in Jazz Performance, studying with Jerry Coker, Donald Brown and Greg Tardy.

An avid and passionate performer, Jamel’s sound is distinctly rooted in generational infused timbre and authenticity. During his captivating performances, you will hear the expertise and investment of all of those Jamel encountered along the way, equally balanced with his individual flavor. As a child, Jamel sought to emulate his father’s work ethic and quality which help build the Memphis sound of his Uncle Willie Mitchell’s Royal Recording Studio. The village that help craft Jamel’s unique sound extended beyond the Mitchell family to the larger global music community. Jamel has worked with numerous influential artists throughout his career, including Donald Brown, Jerry Douglas, Larry Carlton, The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Five Plus Six, Ann Peebles, The Hi Rhythm Section, Frayser Boy, Al Kapone, William Bell, Otis Clay, Bobby Rush, and The Black Lillies to name a few.