Music Professor Smith Will Debut During Jazz Ensemble’s Fall Concert

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Dr. Gene Smith, associate professor of Jazz and coordinator of Jazz Studies will make his grand debut during the Jazz Ensemble’s Fall Concert. The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18, in the F.D. Hall Music Center Recital Hall at 1400 John R. Lynch Street, Jackson, Mississippi 39217.

To ensure social distancing, there will be only 200 free tickets available to the public through Eventbrite on a first-come basis. 

Dr. Gene Smith is the associate professor of Jazz and coordinator of Jazz Studies at Jackson State University.

“As we kick off the holiday season, there will be a variety of music for everyone to enjoy,” Smith said. “I look forward to leading the groups and showing the community that our program is in good hands.”

Featured groups include the JSU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dr. Loretta Galbreath; the JSU Jazz Ensemble II, directed by professor Johnny Hubbard; and the JSU Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Smith.

Jazz Ensemble I’s performance will pay tribute to the late jazz composer Sammy Nestico, who wrote music for the Count Basie Orchestra.

“Sammy Nestico was a pioneer in published music for jazz education. Our students and audience should enjoy the tribute,” Smith said.

For the past 30 years, Smith has been recognized as one of the country’s leading jazz educators. As a saxophonist and woodwind specialist, he has accompanied artists such as Stevie Wonder, Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry, Vic Damone and Bobby Rydell. 

Smith has also performed and recorded with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the New World Symphony. As a conductor, he directed the Down Beat award-winning North Texas Three O’Clock Lab Band and the Miami GRAMMY® High School Jazz Band. As an educator, Smith has held notable positions at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and City Colleges of Chicago. 

“I’ve heard so many great things regarding the previous program director and I have been left with big shoes to fill,” Smith said. “I am looking forward to enhancing the extraordinary program that Dr. Russel Thomas, Jr. built here at JSU.”

Thomas is the former director of jazz education and coordinator of music theory. He developed the Bachelor of Music Education degree – jazz education concentration curriculum, and directed and produced nine educational recordings of the Jazz Ensemble Class I.

For more information regarding the Jazz Ensemble’s Fall Concert, contact Dr. Gene Smith at