The Jacksonville Jazz Fest Hall of Fame immortalizes the benefactors who have helped to make the festival such an important cultural institution.
For over fifteen years Jack Melvin, Jr. has been an integral part of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. As owner of Keyboard Connections, Jack is a dedicated educator, sharing his passion and love of music by teaching over 100 students a week. Jack’s support of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival began with the Great American Piano Competition, now known as the world renowned Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. He has also has had a large role in the Youth Jazz Competition, formerly known as the Generation Next Youth Talent Competition. Jack’s support of the event, dedication to the community, passion for Jazz and pianos have played a large role in making the event possible.
Pianist, vocalist, writer and arranger are all talents that describe Noel Freidline. A graduate of the University of North Florida, he has kept us entertained for years, becoming the leader of his own group, the Noel Freidline Quintet, in 1991. Since that time, the group has become a renowned presence in the jazz world, performing for 13 years at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, as well as across the country. Friedline has been the emcee of the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition since 2004.
Ace Martin is currently Instrumental Music Chairman at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, FL, and has been since the opening of school of in 1984. Under the direction of Martin, Douglas Anderson’s Jazz Band I has been invited to play for various local, state, national and international Jazz Festival events.
Performer, composer, band leader, adjudicator, volunteer and mentor, jazz vocalist Lisa Kelly has been a highly respected jazz artist for over 25 years. Winning an unprecedented five DownBeat Magazine awards for best vocalist/original composition, the vocal position with the 2000 IAJE Sisters In Jazz Combo, and profiled among 320 of today’s international jazz artists in the 2010 book, “The New Face of Jazz,” Kelly has performed nationally and internationally throughout Europe and Canada.
For nearly two decades, as the City of Jacksonville’s head of special events, Theresa O’Donnell Price made unparalleled contributions to the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Her passion, energy and professionalism gave life to the event and assured enjoyment by all in attendance.
Gary Starling is a veteran of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, including 15 performances since 1985. Starling has also performed in local jazz clubs and private venues throughout the North Florida area. He has also appeared at the Hilton Head Jazz Society and the Gainesville Friends of Jazz. Starling’s professional jazz career began at 16, playing with Doug Carne at the El Dorado Lounge on Moncrief Road. During the late 60s and 70s, Starling encountered many of his heroes in music while on the road including Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, George Benson, John McGlauglin, Barney Kessell, Herb Ellis, Howard Roberts, and Jimmy Smith.
In the 80s, Starling was hired by Fran Kinne to teach jazz and jazz guitar at Jacksonville University. He is currently the Artist in Residence and has shared his passion for jazz for many years with his students. In addition to teaching jazz, Starling has served as a clinician for AT&T Jazz in the Schools program. He also appeared on WJCT radio shows and has been a judge for the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition. For his talent and dedication to jazz education, Gary Starling has been inducted into the 2012 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Bernard “Womack” Howard was a respected pianist in Jacksonville’s jazz community. He was trained as a child by his parents and went on to become an accomplished player. He performed with such notables as Teddy Washington, Longineu Parsons, Rev. Eugene White, Lisa Kelly, Gary Starling and other talented musicians during the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. After retiring from the U.S. government, where he was the first black air traffic controller in the southern region, he performed at many local venues such as the Ritz Carlton, Giovanni’s, the Hideaway Club, the Chart House and many more.
Howard supported the Jacksonville Jazz Festival as a judge for the piano competition for many years and was a lifetime member of the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum until he passes away in June 2011. His passion for jazz and support of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival was immeasurable. For his talent and dedication to the festival throughout the years, Bernard “Womack” Howard has been inducted into the 2012 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Performer, educator, composer, arranger, lecturer, and music education consultant, Bunky Green has had 14 albums released in his name and his latest album, Apex, was released in 2010. Green is the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of North Florida and he continues to tour around the world. He is the permanent chair of the Past Presidents Council of International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE and was inducted into the IAJE Hall of Fame in 1999. Green received a five-star rating form DownBeat Magazine for his album Healing the Pain and was inducted into the DownBeat Hall of Fame for Jazz Education in 2003.
Leading jazz magazines highlighted Green as one of the greatest jazz saxophonists on today’s jazz scene. Hot House Magazine featured him in its October 2010 issue saying “From the earliest days of jazz, certain players have stood out and set the standard for how a particular instrument should sound. On alto saxophone, luminaries from Johnny Hodges and Charlie Parker to Cannonball Adderley and Ornette Coleman raised the bar high and inspired countless musicians and listeners. In recent years, a high-level buzz has been building about another alto player with unique sound, Bunky Green.” For his talent and dedication to jazz in Jacksonville and throughout the world, Bunky Green has been inducted into the 2011 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
The Honorable Bill Chappell, Jr. was a U.S. Congressman from Florida for 20 years and his district included parts of Jacksonville. He served as Chairman of Defense Appropriation Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives and was also a former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
Chappell was instrumental in obtaining crucial early funding for the Jacksonville Jazz Festival which allowed the festival to be nationally televised in the 1980s. This funding also allowed the festival to be free to the public during that time. Chappell was also recognized by festival organizers for his contribution by being named Honorary Chairman each year from 1985 until his death in 1989. In 1087, he was awarded with the festival’s “Silver Trumpet” award in recognition for his critical role in the festival’s success. For his support and dedication to sustain the festival during its early years, The Honorable Bill Chappell, Jr. has been inducted into the 2011 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Bob Bednar has been loving and listening to jazz his entire life, both as performer and as radio host. He hosted his first jazz program at Philadelphia’s WRTI while a journalism and broadcast major at Temple University, and served as a first call drummer in Philadelphia during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He joined Du Pont in 1963, producing and directing more than 80 industrial shows and films worldwide as special events coordinator for the company’s Textile Division, but his passion for jazz never waned.
Bednar began hosting WJCT’s This Is Jazz radio show in 1993. During his career, Bednar has had the opportunity to play with jazz greats Zoot Sims, Charlie Ventura, Stephane Grappelli and more. Today, Bednar educates and entertains a new generation of jazz lovers on his popular radio program. For his many years in radio programming, his contributions and promotion of local jazz talent, his leadership presenting and promoting live jazz events and his talents as a jazz drummer, Bob Bednar was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Na’im Rashid is a retired Navy Broadcast Journalist whose radio career began in Philadelphia in 1968 and he has been dedicated to the preservation of jazz since that time. During his radio career, he programmed the highly-rated Progressive 98 show on WYLD-FM New Orleans. He also worked for commercial radio stations and the American Forces Radio and Television service. After relocating to Jacksonville, he established the Jazz Vibrations radio show on V101.5 FM, a popular show that is still enjoyed by fans today.
Rashid retired in 2008 and continues to keep jazz alive in Jacksonville. He was instrumental in the development of the Jazz Jam at the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum, a monthly jam session where he is also the program host. He also serves as president of the Ritz Jazz Society of Jacksonville, leading a dedicated group of local jazz supporters. For his support of jazz in our community and his participation in past jazz festivals, Na’im Rashid was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Joyce Hellmann Bizot, a life-long jazz fan and supporter, conceived and created the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 1981 and chaired it until 2000. Since 1983, the competition has been a part of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. For ten years, she was an associate producer with jazz competitions sponsored by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies. At the University of North Florida, Joyce served as a charter member and chair of the Advisory Board of the Music Department’s Jazz and American Music Program (JAMS). She is also a member of the Northeast Florida Jazz Association of Jazz Educators and a former member of the International Association of Jazz Educators.
Before retiring from the City of Jacksonville, Joyce served for more than three decades as an urban planner and administrator in the neighborhood, community and economic development divisions as well as housing and human services programs. For her dedication to the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and her support of music and arts programs, Joyce Hellmann Bizot was inducted into the 2009 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Dr. Bill Prince is a professor emeritus of music at the University of North Florida and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a major in Theory and Composition from the University of Miami. His compositions and arrangements have been performed and/or recorded by jazz ensembles throughout the United States and Canada. Music has taken him to all 50 states and approximately 75 countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia and Asia.
One of Bill’s most unique talents is his ability to perform professionally on several instruments including trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano, and electric bass. He also produced his own CD, Happy Thoughts, on which he composed, arranged and performed all parts. Dr. Bill Prince was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame for contribution to jazz education, his legacy as a performer and supporter of jazz in Jacksonville.
Von Barlow is inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame for his commitment to sustaining the sounds of jazz in Jacksonville and his dedication to the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival and The Great American Jazz Piano competition. Barlow has performed at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival several times and played in The Great American Jazz Piano Competition rhythm section four times, including the first year when Marcus Roberts and Harry Connick, Jr. were finalists. He has also performed with the late O.C. Smith at the famous Woodstock Festival of 1969 and has played with Mose Allison, Lou Rawls, The Ray Charles Trio, Eddie Harris, Bobby Hutcherson, Bunky Green, Roy Ayers, Etta James and many other jazz greats.
Teddy Washington was well known not only as a highly-talented trumpet player, vocalist and band leader but also as the author of his autobiography “LIFE THE PUZZLE.” In 1999, Teddy participated in the re-opening of the Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum. That same year, he also produced and hosted the first Follies Awards at the Florida Theatre, an awards show where he recognized 23 Jacksonville unsung heroes of jazz and entertainment. Teddy played the Jacksonville Jazz Festival twenty times and performed with the likes of B.B. King and James Brown. For his many contributions to the jazz community and his efforts to keep jazz alive in Jacksonville, Teddy Washington was selected as a 2006 member of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Teddy Washington passed away in July 2009. He was a passionate supporter of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and his contribution to the jazz community will be sorely missed.
Longineu Parsons is a musician and composer who is hailed internationally by critics as one of the world’s finest trumpet players. Parsons is a master of trumpet, a composer, a multi-instrumentalist, a singer and a stage performer. Over his career, he has performed in over 30 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and has shared the stage with the likes of Branford Marsalis and Cab Calloway. Longineu is an Associate Professor of Trumpet at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida. Locally, Longineu has participated in the Jacksonville Jazz Festival on 10 occasions. For his contributions to our festival and for his commitment to the education of future generations of jazz, Longineu Parsons has been selected as a 2006 member of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
During his 27-year career in orchestra management, Cecil S. Cole Jr. earned the respect and admiration of countless people in the music industry. As Artistic Administrator of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, he played a key role in determining programming and guest artists. He was instrumental in the success of many symphony endeavors, including three grand opera productions, the creation of the Fresh Ink Florida Composers’ Competition, the Jacksonville International Piano Competition, the installation of the Bryan Concert Organ in Jacoby Symphony Hall and the inception of an organ recital series.
Always generous with his musical knowledge, Cecil served on the board of directors of the Ritz Chamber Players and the Beaches Fine Arts Series. He was a lifelong fan of jazz, and through his work with various orchestras, he worked with and presented many jazz greats, including Mel Torme and Doc Severinsen. It is for his outstanding contributions to jazz and to all types of music that he is being inducted into the 2005 Jacksonville Jazz Hall of Fame. Cecil quietly departed this life after a long illness on Feb. 22, 2005, but his many friends and fans in Jacksonville will always remember his joie de vivre and his motto: “It’s all about the music!” It is for his outstanding contributions to all types of music that he is inducted into the 2005 Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Dick Brown was first hired by WJCT in 1968 as executive producer for an innovative public affairs TV series. His involvement with the Jacksonville Jazz Festival began in 1981 with a TV program made during the festival. The program was broadcast nationally by PBS, and received a major award from the New York Film and Television Festival. Brown continued as executive producer for the program, which became an annual PBS staple and was broadcast internationally, giving Jacksonville and the Jazz Festival worldwide promotion. Dick also produced The WJCT Jacksonville Wine Experience, the oldest wine festival in North Florida. Two years ago, the event moved to the World Golf Village where Dick continues as executive producer. For his efforts to showcase Jacksonville to the world, Dick Brown was selected as a 2004 member of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
In his 36 years with WJCT, Vic DiGenti was responsible for all special events including the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, the Jacksonville Wine Experience, the Jacksonville Spring Music Festival and was the executive producer of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. During his eight years as producer of the festival, he worked with a staff and nearly 1,200 volunteers and added several key elements, such as the Jazz on the Run 5k and the Backstage Cafe to enhance the overall festival. In his last position with WJCT, Vic was vice president of Community Support, which generated more than $2 million in revenue for the public broadcasting station. Vic DiGenti was selected as a 2004 member of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame for his dedication to the event.
The Honorable Elaine Brown has worked tirelessly to serve her community for more than 20 years. She has served as Jacksonville City Council President and member as well as on various boards of directors, including I.M. Sulzbacher Center, Jax Pride and March of Dimes. Council President Brown has also volunteered for numerous community causes, including the Jacksonville Oceanside Rotary, the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI), “Walk America” and as a suicide prevention volunteer. She was a founding member of Kids Kampus, a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art educational park for Jacksonville’s children.
She was appointed by Mayor Ed Austin to the Downtown Development Authority and was later asked to chair the downtown Master Plan Task Force. Mayor John Peyton appointed Brown to serve on the Board of the Cultural Council of Jacksonville and she has been on the Executive Committee of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce from 2010-2011.
She was the first chairperson of the WJCT Jacksonville Jazz Festival Patron Party and helped to organize the first volunteers to work with performers, serving as chairperson for the host committee. For her dedication to and enthusiasm for the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, the Honorable Elaine Brown was selected as a 2003 member of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Marcus Roberts was first exposed to music in the local church in Jacksonville where his mother was a gospel singer. A few years after losing his eyesight at age five, he began teaching himself to play piano but did not begin any formal lessons until age twelve. As a jazz pianist, Roberts joined Wynton Marsalis’ band, touring and recording with him for six years.
Roberts won the Jacksonville Jazz Festival’s first Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 1983 and was honored with the Helen Keller Award for Personal Achievement in 1998. His most recent release, Cole after Midnight, celebrates the work of Nat ‘King’ Cole and Cole Porter and was selected by New York Times critics as one of the ten best jazz CDs of 2001. For his many contributions to Jacksonville’s jazz and music culture, Marcus Roberts was selected as a 2003 member of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame.
Ira Koger believed the quality of a community’s cultural life attracts business, so business leaders should not regard the arts and music as “frills.” He was widely respected as a patron of the arts and devoted himself to cultural developments and events. Koger thrived at a variety of vocations and roles, including election to the South Carolina House of Representatives at age 21, President of O.P. Woodcock Company and Chairman and CEO of both Koger Properties and Koger Equity.
The Kogers funded a Distinguished Professorship in Music and endowed the School of American Music/Jazz at the University of North Florida and have been responsible for more than 300 scholarships at the Jacksonville school. Ira Koger was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame in 2000 for his philanthropic contributions to the arts in Jacksonville and across the Southeast.
Rich Matteson was recognized nationally as one of our county’s most exciting jazz soloists and clinicians, with a career which included public school music teacher, professional performer, conductor, arranger, composer, and college professor. Matteson became involved with jazz education in 1968 and performed as clinician and guest soloist at high schools, colleges and universities throughout the world. In 1986, he was appointed the Kroger Distinguished Professor of American Music at the University of North Florida and as the university’s distinction of Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 1992.
Matteson received various honors, including induction in, the International Association of Jazz Educators, into the Jazz Educators Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Down Beat Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. In 2000, Rich Matteson was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame for his significant contributions to jazz as an educator and musician.
Dan Kossoff has produced, directed, written and developed thousands of films, commercials, television programs and special events. He began his media career in 1961 by hosting a campus jazz radio program in Duluth, Minnesota. During college, he toured the Midwest as a guitar/folk singer. He joined WJCT in 1968, specializing in public affairs and documentary production.
Kossoff produced and directed the PBS coverage of the Festival from 1981-1984. From that time until 1991 he served as the Festival’s Executive Director, leading its development into a world-class event. Dan Kossoff was inducted as a member of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame in 1999 for his long service and unprecedented dedication to the event.
Mike Tolbert is a self-employed strategic planning and communications consultant in Jacksonville, who represents corporate and political clients. He has worked with Mayors Jake Godbold, Hanz Tansler, Ed Austin, Congresswoman Tillie Fowler and Florida State Senator Betty Holzendorf. Tolbert helped produce the first five Jacksonville Jazz Festivals and introduced the Great American Jazz Piano Competition to the Festival. He played a key role in the agreement that led to the national and international telecast of the Festival on PBS for several years. Tolbert now lives on his horse farm in Brooksville, Florida. In 1999, Mike Tolbert was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame for his role in the creation of an incomparable service to the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
Jake Godbold served on the Jacksonville City Council for 13 years, including two as Council president, before being elected as mayor for eight years. During his terms as mayor, the Riverwalk, The Jacksonville Landing, and Metropolitan Park were built. Mayor Godbold helped bring 80,000 new jobs and 165 new companies to Jacksonville and was the overseer of $1 billion worth of construction in Jacksonville and Duval County. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival and Spring Music Festival, now a Memorial Day concert tradition in Jacksonville, began during his administration. In 1999, Mayor Godbold was inducted into the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Hall of Fame for his countless contributions to the development of Downtown Jacksonville, the arts, and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.