JazzFest Headliners

2019 Pensacola JazzFest

National headliner

Bob Sheppard

Multi-instrumentalist Bob Sheppard

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.

Local/regional headliners

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!

Soul Station

Soul Station

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.


Active throughout the southeast region, Cartoon’s own brand of spontaneous music combines traditional jazz and blues, with soul and modern counter-rhythms.It’s an interactive, entertaining experience, fueled by heavy regional influence from the faded parts of America that invented jazz itself.

Fred Domulot, Tom Latenser, Chuck Schwartz, and Sean Dietrich have been playing their intuitive style of music since 2003, a kind of experience that couldn’t disappoint the listener even if they tried.

Michael J. Thomas

Like most independent artists seeking to get higher profile gigs and build a following beyond their home region, Michael J. Thomas is intimately familiar with the uphill battles he faces in an industry that loves to pigeonhole performers as one thing or another. Fortunately for adventurous music fans who groove on mixed playlists, the Destin, Florida-based saxophonist, vocalist, composer and producer is – as per the title of his fresh and eclectic new full length album – “Driven” to make music his way and embrace the future on his own terms.The 10-song set burst out of the gate jolted by a wave of national airplay for the first single, “Baby Coffee,” earning Billboard most-added honors in its debut week, followed by an add at SiriusXM’s Watercolors, leading the saxophonist-vocalist to sign a distribution deal for the project with Perry Music Group/Sony Music. Baby Coffee charted No. 1 on three charts including Billboard, USA Today and Smooth Jazz Top 20 with Allen Kepler.

From this point on, Thomas is all about that forward momentum. With widespread critical acclaim and high-impact airplay and sales stats, his debut album “City Beat” put Thomas on the map and became one of the genre’s hottest independent releases of 2010. The title track hit No. 1 on Canadian-based Smooth Jazz Now’s singles chart and hit the Billboard Smooth Jazz Airplay chart. In addition to the album receiving airplay on terrestrial and Internet stations throughout the world, five tracks were put in regular rotation on The Weather Channel. In addition, his song “Amante Del Vino” was weaved into the plot of the film “Contagion,” starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet.

Expanding his artistic scope significantly, Thomas earned comparisons to the legendary vibe of the late Michael Jackson for his lush pop vocals on his 2011 single “I Think About Amy,” which was released on Woodward Avenue Records and hit No. 16 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Airplay chart and No. 12 on the SmoothJazz.com IndieStar chart. Also in 2011, he teamed up with two-time Grammy winning producer Paul Brown (George Benson, Luther Vandross) to produce Thomas and Wallace’s song “Without You,” featuring R&B vocalist Wendy Moten.


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.

The Guffman Trio

Named for its favorite cult film “Waiting for Guffman,” The Guffman Trio — Tom Latenser, Cynthia Domulot and Fred Domulot — began performing together in 2003 and has been featured at numerous festivals and venues throughout the Southeast in recent years. Coming from diverse musical backgrounds and bringing to the table their passion as performers as well as music educators, the trio’s eclectic sound consists of a blend of straight ahead jazz with blues, funk, Latin and folk to produce a mix sure to satisfy the taste of any listener.

Cynthia Domulot & The Dharma Beats

Dharma Beats plays an eclectic style of progressive pop, jazz and funky music — putting its signature twist on familiar tunes. Electric keyboard gives it the 1960s and 1970s authenticity, and upright bass gives it that cool jazz vibe, with the funky Bepop drum set keeping it in the pocket. Band members: Cynthia Domulot, keys/vocal; Chuck Schwartz, sax; Tom Latenser, bass; Fred Domulot, drums.