Jim Widner is currently a Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. As leader of the Jim Widner Big Band, he is celebrating his 27th year of hosting big band jazz camps all across the United States. Jim is also the director and founder of the St. Louis Jazz Orchestra.A graduate of the University of Missouri, Jim also holds a MA degree from Memphis State University and has done postgraduate work at the University of North Texas. Jim has performed at the world famous Lionel Hampton and Montreaux (Switzerland) Jazz Festivals. His performance background includes concert dates with Clark Terry, Marilyn Maye, Lou Marini, Mulgrew Miller, Bucky Pizzarelli, Wycliff Gordon, Louie Bellson, 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 - Columbia renamed the music wing of the fine arts residential college, " Widner House" in honor of him. In 2006 the title of "Statesman" was conferred upon him by The Statesmen of Jazz. In 2008 he was a cover story feature in the March issue of JazzEd magazine and in 2009 he was a recipient of Downbeat magazine's Achievement Award for his work in jazz education. In 2011 Jim was inducted into his hometown's Wall of Honor in Lebanon, MO. In 2013 he was the recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award from the College of Fine Arts and Communication, University of Missouri - St. Louis, and was once again featured in subsequent articles in Downbeat magazine " Student Becomes Teacher" and in JazzEd magazine "The Art of The Big Band Jazz Camp".
Jim is a Yamaha Performing Artist and a D'Addario 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", " Flying High", " Out of This World", and their newest release "The Beat Goes On".