JIM WIDNER BIO
Jim Widner, former bassist with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and the Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Buddy DeFranco, is celebrating his 30th year anniversary as leader of the Jim Widner Big Band and his summer jazz camps. Jim is a Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, where he directs the UMSL Jazz Ensemble. In 2013 he was the recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award from the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
A graduate of the University of Missouri, Jim also holds an MA degree from the University of Memphis and has done postgraduate work at the University of North Texas, where he directed the Three O’Clock Lab Band. He has performed at the world famous Lionel Hampton and Montreaux (Switzerland) Jazz Festivals as well as tours of Japan, Europe, Australia and China. His performance background includes concert dates with Clark Terry, Lou Marini, Louie Bellson, Mulgrew Miller, Bucky Pizzarelli, Wycliff Gordon, Randy Brecker, Bill Watrous, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and an appearance before former President Bill Clinton. In 1999, students at the University of Missouri renamed the music wing of the Fine Arts Residential College “Widner House” in honor of him. The title of “Statesman” was conferred upon him by The Statesmen of Jazz. Jim is a recipient of “Downbeat” magazine’s Achievement Award for his work in jazz education and has been featured in subsequent articles in “Downbeat” and “JazzEd” magazines.
Jim is a Yamaha and D’Addario Performing Artist. He was a founding member of the Jazz Education Network and served on its Board of Directors. The Jim Widner Big Band records on the Chase Music Group label and their critically acclaimed CD’s include “Yesterdays and Today”, “Body and Soul”, “Live, The Jim Widner Big Band Rides Again”, “Flying High”, “Out Of This World”, and “The Beat Goes On”.