JSU Jazz Improvises a Successful Year


The JSU Jazz program is the largest in Alabama.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the JSU Jazz program has had an exciting year. 

Chris Fryar, drummer for the Zac Brown Band, is serving as artist-in-residence this spring, visiting campus several times, leading master classes and performing with music faculty in an Alone Together virtual concert. 

"I knew we needed to bring in a great guy and accomplished musician to come help out our students in the crazy COVID time, so I asked him to participate and he said yes,” said Dr. Andy Nevala, director of jazz studies, who met Fryar while performing together in the Chris Moore Project in Birmingham.  

Dr. Nevala’s professional reputation and connections continue to bring opportunities to the David L. Walters Department of Music. In fact, he has co-founded the new Alabama Jazz Collective to grow, promote and support the jazz community in Alabama. Made up of jazz educators from throughout the state at leading universities and high schools, the collective will be a driving force in jazz education, performance and outreach.

“The JSU Jazz program has grown to be the largest jazz program in the state, and one of the leaders in jazz education in Alabama," said Nevala. "It was time for us to come together to find the common themes between all genres of music, races and cultures”.

JSU Jazz will host its 10th annual Jazz Festival virtually on April 20, 7-9 p.m., featuring university jazz ensembles, the faculty group, and high school musicians from across the state. But first, enjoy a JSU Jazz Combo Showcase on April 5, 7-9 p.m., in the new Mason Hall recital hall. The audience is limited to 50 in-person guests at both events; email Dr. Nevala for reservations at anevala@jsu.edu. Both will also be streamed live for those unable to attend on the department’s YouTube page. The Jazz Combos will also be performing at Heirloom Taco on April 14, 6-8 p.m.