NCCU Big Band
The Jazz Studies Program at North Carolina Central University is under the leadership of saxophonist/flutist Ira Wiggins. There are nine ensembles in the program: two big bands, four combos, a guitar ensemble, a brass ensemble and a vocal jazz ensemble. Dr. Wiggins is assisted by the following: Assistant Director, Baron Tymas – Guitar, Robert Trowers -Trombone, Albert Strong – Trumpet, Arnold George – Piano and Vocals, Lenora Zenzalai Helm – Vocals, Ed Paolantonio – Piano, Thomas Taylor – Drumset, Brian Horton – Saxophone and Damon Brown – Bass.
These groups have performed with major artists including: Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Kenny Burrell, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Ed Thigpen, Vanessa Rubin, Fred Wesley, Louie Bellson, Alvin Batiste, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Nnenna Freelon, Nicholas Payton, Steve Wilson, Geri Allen, Slide Hampton, David “Fathead” Newman and others.
NCCU’s groups have appeared at numerous festivals receiving top honors, including first
place honors at the Villanova Jazz Festival held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Major performances include the Montreux Jazz Festival, Vienne Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, New York City Jazz Festival, Notre Dame Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival. The group was invited to perform at a reception for the White House Staff and Congressional Aides and a week later for a National Press reception hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton. Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo serve as artists-in-residence for the NCCU Jazz Studies Program. The Jazz Studies Program at North Carolina Central University is dedicated to fostering a quality education, shaping the future of aspiring musicians, and maintaining the integrity of a great art form.
NCCU Big Band is presented in partnership with North Carolina Central University’s 24th Annual Jazz Festival.