2019 Pensacola JazzFest
For more than four decades, the multi-instrumentalist has played on countless sessions with an astounding crop of A-list jazz giants—among them Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Michael and Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves, Lyle Mays, John Beasley and Steps Ahead—and artists within several other genres. He’s also recorded and toured as a leader, contributed to hundreds of movie and TV soundtracks, served as an educator and more.
With a solid list of credentials building up, and his ability to play numerous instruments—he is virtuosic on all varieties of sax, flute and clarinet—Sheppard became a first-call musician, a valued sideman who could be counted upon to bring fresh ideas to any recording session or live gig. Along the way, his own horizons expanded.
Those gigs included work not just with the top jazz artists cited above, but also stars of the pop, rock and R&B worlds, among them Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Queen Latifah, Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole, Randy Newman.
One of Sheppard’s most rewarding ongoing involvements has been his work as an educator. For more than a decade he’s been a part-time faculty member at the USC Thornton School of Music and frequently conducts clinics at colleges.
Jones and Company
Since 1989, Jones and Company continues to be known and appreciated for an original approach to jazz and world music. The talented group of performers has excelled in transcending traditional musical boundaries while giving listeners a treat in innovative original musical expression for more than 30 years along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Jones and Company includes Cheryl Jones, keyboardist/vocalist; Denny Jones, bass; Brent Purcell, drums; Ellis Jones, trombone; Paul Scurto, trumpet; and Ike Bartley, sax.
Over the years, Jones and Company has produced six artistically acclaimed albums, received multiple awards, while being featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles, and on live television and radio programs. Whether playing an original song from any of the CDs, or performing arrangements of old- school favorites, the band delivers a sound that makes it hard to keep your seat!
Driven forward by each musician’s ambition to master their instrument, Soul Station is a five-piece band that draws from past greats covering R&B, soul, and funk tunes, while moving towards the future taking influence from contemporary and hip-hop-inspired R&B. The group is composed of twins Aundre’ and Andrew Conner, playing bass and trumpet respectively, saxophonist Noah Hall, keyboardist Bryce Lyublanovits, and drummer Chase Rogers.
Soul Station found its humble genesis at Booker T. Washington High School under the mentorship of Lawrence Young. Ever since, the group has grown to become recognized across the City of Pensacola. Each member is currently a full-time student; three members still attend high school. While some make incorrect assumptions based on their age, Soul Station is consistently determined to prove their critics wrong. In 2018, the Pensacola News Journal published a two-page article entitled, “Soul Station Wowing Crowds With Pro-Level Jazz Chops.”
To date, Soul Station has played at downtown Pensacola venues such as Casks and Flights Wine Tasting Room, Cigar Factory, Perfect Plain Brewery, and Five Sisters Blues Café. Last year, the group played at the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival and Jazz Pensacola’s August Jazz Gumbo. Most notably, in 2018, Soul Station performed at the SeaBreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City.
John Cochran and Bodhi Trio
John Cochran was raised in a home filled with the music of The Allman Brothers, Motown and Stax Records. Cochran began playing guitar at 6 years old, following in his older brothers’ footsteps.
While he lived in Nashville, Cochran was mentored by Jack Pearson, alumni of The Allman Brothers Band. He has played with Pearson on duo as well as full band gigs.
Cochran holds a masters degree in Jazz Performance from Middle Tennessee State University, where he became a professor of music prior to finishing his graduate degree. He also holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Jazz Performance. He is currently the Professor of Jazz and Studio Guitar Performance at Southern Mississippi and Coastal Alabama Community College.
The Bodhi Trio features John Milham on drums, Jojo Morris upright bass, and Cochran on guitar.
Michael J. Thomas
Established in 2015, Nobius (Network of Brothers in United Sound) is a band out of Pensacola that has dedicated itself to combing influences from across the ages.
Nobius blends soul, funk, jazz, pop, and R&B into a foot-tapping and hip-swaying experience.
Finding inspiration from the classic sounds of Pee Wee Ellis and Stevie Wonder to the modern sounds of Tom Misch and Snarky Puppy, Nobius strives to accommodate all sorts of musical needs.
Village Brass Band
The Village Brass Band offers a New Orleans-style funk and hip-hop to traditional Dixieland, bringing the flavor of NOLA to the Emerald Coast.
Found most often along the waterside throughout the Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast , they are sure to bring a good time wherever they go.
Band members: Jon Yates, trumpet; Fly Dents, sax; Jackson Willis, trombone; Michael Young, tuba; Tom Latenser, bass drum; Fred Domulot, snare drum.
Curt Bol Band
The Curt Bol Band delivers a blend of contemporary and traditional jazz and blues with the collective goal of having as much fun as they possibly can. From funky to smooth, straight ahead to progressive, this group of veteran players loves to play the music they love. They get each other and it works. Fronted by Curt Bol on vocals, the band features Tom Latenser on bass, Joe Lyons on drums, Rocky Sleight on keys and Steve Watkins on guitar.
Curt made Pensacola his home in 1981 and fronted many bands along the Gulf Coast including Café Racer with Steve Watkins and Café Oasis with Joe Lyons. He moved to Nashville for several years to form Laurie Wheeler and Nash deVille with Rick and Laurie Wheeler, and recorded the album “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” in 2002 and signed with Summit Records. The album included Ron Krasinski, Randy Smith, Pete Wasner, Rick Jackson and Craig Wasner — along with Larry Carlton, Kirk Whalum and Mark Douthit – and recreated Big Band swing classics with an edge, tight vocal harmonies and be-bop scats. In 2003, Laurie Wheeler and Nash deVille headlined the Pensacola JazzFest. Following his heart back to the Gulf Coast, he formed the Curt Bol Band in 2011 and continues to sing the music he loves with the area’s finest players.
Rebecca Barry & George Petropoulos
Rebecca Barry has been performing along the Gulf Coast area for more than 15 years. Barry received her Bachelor’s of Music from Loyola University in New Orleans in 1998. She also earned her Master’s of Jazz Studies from the University of New Orleans. Barry performs all styles, from jazz to R&B. She has been a professor of music at Coastal Alabama Community College for the last 10 years. Barry has toured Europe, Canada and the United States, performing in jazz festivals and concert venues. She opened Fairhope Music four years ago, where more than 120 children take lessons every week. Barry will provide nonstop entertainment for your ears. She has performed with the Headhunters, Ellis Marsalis, Rick Margitza, Wynton Marsalis and Terri Lynn Carrington to name a few. She has five albums, and her most recent CD is “Rebecca Barry and the Headhunters.”
George Petropoulos is a multi-instrumentalist who hails from New York City where he excelled in the NYC jazz scene for several years before relocating to Pensacola.
He excels as a trumpeter and pianist in a wide variety of musical styles and genres.