It is the goal of the JSU Jazz Studies Program to provide students with a demanding yet enjoyable environment for the learning of improvisation, theory, jazz styles, and ensemble performance concepts.
The Jazz Program offers all JSU students, music majors, non-music majors and students enrolled through the office of Continuing Education the opportunity to perform in jazz ensembles of recognized excellence. Because of the improvisatory element basic to jazz, participation in JSU Jazz Ensembles offer an important and unique opportunity for all students to develop their creative process.
The Jazz Ensembles at Jacksonville State University are active in performing a wide variety of styles, and combo students are encouraged to perform their own compositions and arrangements. Both large and small group ensembles perform regular concerts on campus and at top local, regional and international jazz festivals, including the Mobile Jazz Festival, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Festival, and the JSU Jazz Festival. Ensembles frequently perform with guest artists from around the country such as Wycliffe Gordon, Dave D'Angelo, Lester Walker, and Marc Dickman, in both concerts and masterclasses. The program currently boasts four jazz ensembles, including the award-winning JSU Jazz Ensemble I, six combos, and the Latin Ensemble. Placement auditions for all JSU Jazz groups are held the first day of classes each semester; placement in JSU Jazz ensembles is by audition only.
Dr. Andy Nevala
Director of Jazz Studies
Dr. Andy Nevala, Piano and Director of Jazz Studies
Dr. Andy Nevala currently directs Jazz Ensembles I, II, 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).
While at the University of Northern Colorado he performed and recorded with UNC Lab I under the direction of Dr. Gene Aitkin, performing with Conrad Hertwig, Brian Lynch, Louis Bellson, Peter Erskine, and Pete Fountain, as well as opened for Kurt Elling, Russell Malone, Poncho Sanchez and McCoy Tyner. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, he performed and recorded with Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dr. John Davis, and Combo I, directed by Chip Stephens, and performed with Chris Potter, Jiggs Whigam, and James Carter. Andy has also been commissioned to arrange for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Denver Brass, the Steve Lippia Big Band, Conjunto Colores, several San Francisco Bay Area groups, and has recorded on over 20 CDs released in the US, Japan, and South America.
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 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.
Ben Weatherford, Guitar
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
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
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
Kenyon Carter, Saxophone
Kenyon Carter is an Atlanta-based jazz saxophonist and recording artist recognized for his melodic smooth jazz compositions and engaging live performances. He expresses his creative and soulful style through a beautiful and sultry sound. Although unique and entirely unmistakeable, he has been compared to contemporary smooth jazz favorites like Boney James, Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum and Gerald Albright.
Songs For My Father, Kenyon's most recent album, is a dedication to his father, Kent Carter, who passed away in early 2013. The album debuted at #4 on iTunes' top jazz album chart, features jazz arrangements of ten all-time favorite gospel hymns and has received rave reviews and airplay on jazz radio. "The Jazz Evangelist," Scott Fugate declares, "Kenyon's virtuosity is on full display here in his diverse arrangements as well as his range, covering a spectrum of jazz styles from blues, swing, smooth, straight ahead, and even a light bossa on "To God Be The Glory." This album is a rich, relaxing and spiritual experience that will warm your soul."
Raised in South Georgia, Kenyon's call to jazz came early, picking up
his first saxophone at thirteen. He began his formal education at
Valdosta State University, where he earned Bachelor's degrees in both
Jazz Performance and Music Education. Later, he pursued graduate work at
Georgia State University, where he earned a Master's degree in Jazz
Dr. Tony McCutchen, Drums
As an arranger/composer, Tony has co-authored (with Tom Wallace) well over 200 marching band arrangements through Arrangers Publishing Company. He also has arrangements/compositions for Steel Band published by Panyard, Coyle Drums and Row-Loff Productions. His arrangement of Ney Rosauro's Concerto for Marimba and Wind Ensemble (Mallet Works Music) has been performed in the U.S. and internationally more than any other marimba concerto in the world. He is an Artist-Clinician for Ludwig/Musser Percussion, Zildjian Cymbals, and Innovative Percussion. He hosted the 1994 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia and served as the Georgia chapter president of PAS for many years. Tony has degrees from Auburn University (B.S.), East Carolina University (M.M.), and the University of North Texas (D.M.A.). He and his wife Susie have four children.