|Don Zentz is the Director of Fine and Performing Arts at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. In his first year at Bolles, Don received the Edward E. Ford Award for teaching excellence and expertise in his discipline area. He continues to enjoy his time as a highly sought-after professional freelance musician, clinician, adjudicator, and music education consultant throughout the southeast region. He also heads the musical organization called Florida Jazz Plus. Immediately preceeding his current position, Don was the Music Director of the St. Johns River City Band for two years and also served as their Youth Band director for four years. He has been involved with the River City Band since 1988 as a professional musician.
Don is an honor graduate of Valdosta State College (GA) where he earned his B.M. and M.M. degrees in music and studied saxophone and jazz studies with Bob Greenhaw. He is a former college professor of twelve years with tenures at the University of North Florida, Florida Community College at Jacksonville, and Valdosta State University. While at UNF, Don was named an "Outstanding Undergraduate Professor" in 1996 and was selected to receive a Florida Board of Regents TIP Award for "Excellence in Teaching" in 1999. Prior to college teaching, Don was a public school band director at the middle and high school levels in Georgia and, most notably, at Wolfson Senior High School in Jacksonville, Florida. His bands consistently received superior ratings in all idioms - concert, marching, and jazz.
Don received national acclaim for his work and leadership in jazz education during his time at the University of North Florida. He was hired at UNF by program founder and jazz education pioneer Rich Matteson. As the director of the UNF Jazz Ensemble, he produced two critically acclaimed CD's with tracks selected by BMG for their collegiate jazz compilation project, and brought international recognition to the UNF Jazz Program with the jazz ensemble's selection to perform at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. That same year, the jazz ensemble won the National Collegiate Jazz Festival in Mobile, Alabama. The band also received an enthusiastic standing ovation at the conclusion of their Notre Dame Jazz Festival performance in 1998. Down Beat magazine recognized the UNF Jazz Ensemble for "Outstanding Performance - Best Big Band Jazz" and named the band as one of the top four collegiate jazz ensembles in the country in May of 1998. As the co-teacher of the saxophone studio with Bunky Green at UNF, Don's sax enembles also performed at national music conferences.
Don has always been very active in the professional work of music organizations since his time as a student at Valdosta State when he served as VSC's student chapter president of IAJE and MENC. From 1993-96, he served as President of the Florida Unit of IAJE and is responsible for instituting Florida's highly successful state jazz workshop. His FCCJ Jazz Ensemble was selected to perform at the 1993 FMEA Conference in Tampa, Florida, and at the 1994 IAJE Conference in Boston. His UNF Jazz Ensemble performed at the 1997 IAJE conference in Atlanta. His student UNF Jazz Saxophone Ensemble was selected to perform at the 1998 Southeastern United States Conference of the North American Saxophone Alliance. Don has performed as a saxophonist at 1987 IAJE/Atlanta with the Georgia All-Star Director's Band, 1999 IAJE/New York with the UNF Faculty Jazz Combo, 2000 IAJE/New Orleans with the Florida Director's Jazz Ensemble, 2000 GMEA/Savannah with the VSU Faculty Woodwind Quintet, and the 2001 GMEA/Savannah conference as the leader of the VSU Faculty Jazz Combo.
Don has presented clinics and workshops for numerous professional organizations and school systems over the years - for both students and teachers. He has directed the All-State Jazz Bands of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, as well as the Delaware All-State Symphonic Band. Don was selected by the Georgia Department of Education to teach in their Governors Honors Program, and did so for four summers. He enjoys tremendous activity throughout the country as an adjudicator and clinician in both traditional and jazz idioms.
In 1996, Don and his wife Laurie created "Jazzin' It Up" - an educational concert series that interactively teaches elementary students about America's music. To date, "Jazzin' It Up" has reached over 20,000 students.
All of Don's professional activity during the 1990's led to his being named the recipient of Down Beat Magazine's 1999 "Jazz Education Achievement Award".
As a performer, Don is a first-call saxophonist and woodwind doubler. He has performed with the likes of Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen, The New York Voices, Johnny Mathis, Diane Schuur, Dave Brubeck and The Manhattan Transfer. He has performed in the pit orchestras for musicals that include A Chorus Line, Chicago, Annie, 42nd Street, Grand Hotel, and Hello Dolly with Carol Channing. Don is also a per-service player with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and the Savannah Symphony Orchestra for their pops programs.
Don has been a Keilwerth Saxophone performing artist and clinician since 1995.