Don Zentz is in his third year at the Douglas Anderson
School of the Arts
in Jacksonville, Florida, where he is the
Director of Jazz Studies and serves on the band faculty.
Previously he was the Director of Fine &
Performing Arts at The Bolles School (Jacksonville), a post
he served for twelve years. He has held
music professorships at the University of North Florida,
Valdosta State University, and Florida
Community College at Jacksonville. Prior to college
teaching, Don was a high school and middle school
band director in Georgia and at Wolfson Senior High School
in Jacksonville. His programs earned
superior ratings and championship recognition in all areas
of band media – concert, marching, and jazz.
Don received much acclaim for his work and leadership in
jazz education particularly during his tenure at
the University of North Florida. He was originally hired at
UNF by program founder and jazz education
pioneer Rich Matteson. Don co-taught the saxophone
studio with legendary altoist Bunky Green. As the
director of the UNF Jazz Ensemble, Don brought national
and international visibility to the jazz program
at UNF. The ensemble produced two critically acclaimed CD’
s, won the Notre Dame Jazz Festival and
National Collegiate Jazz Festival in Mobile, performed at
festivals in Europe, and was recognized by
DownBeat for “Best Big Band Jazz – Outstanding
Performance”. The extensive list of guest artists that
have performed with his jazz ensembles reads like a “who’s
who in jazz”. In 1999, DownBeat awarded
Don their Jazz Education Achievement Award. UNF had
named him an Outstanding Undergraduate
Professor in 1996. He also received a TIP Award from the
Florida Board of Regents for Excellence in
During his current tenure at Douglas Anderson, his top jazz
ensemble performed at the 2017 JEN
Conference in New Orleans, won the 2017 Swing Central
competition in Savannah, and was recognized
by DownBeat as one of the top high jazz ensembles in the
country. Receiving superior ratings at music
performance assessments continues to be a mainstay for
both DA jazz ensembles as is having students
selected for the Florida All-State Jazz Band each year and
other events like the Lincoln Center jazz camp,
Grammy jazz camp, etc. For the school year ending 2017,
seniors in the DA band program overall were
offered $4.3 million dollars in music scholarship offers.
Don is very much in demand as a player, adjudicator, and
clinician in both traditional and jazz idioms.
He was a per service saxophonist with the Jacksonville
Symphony Orchestra for over twenty years and
works many of the off-Broadway shows that travel into
Florida. He has performed in concert with
notables that include Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Dizzy
Gillespie, The New York Voices, Natalie Cole,
Nancy Wilson, Doc Severinsen, The Manhattan Transfer,
and Diane Schuur. He adjudicates extensively
each year for the Florida Bandmasters Association and
other independent band festivals across the south
including Festival Disney. He has directed the all-state high
school jazz bands of Florida, Georgia,
Alabama, and Maine, the Delaware All-State Symphonic
Band, and most recently the 2016 Florida All-
State Middle School Jazz Band. He served as the jazz
studies coordinator, music department chair, and
wind ensemble director for the Georgia Governors Honors
Program during the 1990’s. Don has presented
a variety of clinics and master classes at numerous musical
events for students and teachers alike. His
articles have appeared in professional publications such as
The Instrumentalist and Music Educators
Journal. During his two terms as the Florida Unit President
of IAJE, Don was responsible for instituting
the State Jazz Workshop in Florida.
Don has been a Keilwerth Saxophones performing artist
and clinician since 1995. His career reveals a
deep commitment and passion for both the teaching and
performing of music. He credits his professional
success to his mentors – Bob Greenhaw, Joe David, and
Rich Matteson – and to Laurie Zentz, his loving
wife and soul mate for over thirty years.
About Don Zentz
Rich Matteson & DZ
UNF Jazz Ensemble at Jacksonville
Jazz Festival - JB Scott & DZ
Bob Greenhaw & DZ - Ed
Shaughnessy on drums
Intercollegiate Concert Band Festival
Artie Clifton, Dale Blackwell, and DZ
DZ & Bob Greenhaw - "Two Franks"
IAJE Conference in Atlanta
DZ & Bunky Green
DZ, Dave Steinmeyer, and JB Scott
Ernie Watts and DZ
Don and Laurie - 23rd Anniversary
Fricano, Silva, Zentz, and Prince