The College of Music is proud to report the appointment of Scotty Barnhart as the new Director of the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. He follows Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Grover Mitchell, Bill Hughes, and Dennis Mackrel in leading one of the greatest and most important jazz orchestras in history. 

Founded in 1935 by pianist William James Basie (1904-1984), the orchestra still tours the world today. The orchestra has released hundreds of recordings, has appeared in movies, television shows and commercials, Presidential Inaugurals, and has won 18 Grammy Awards - the most for any jazz orchestra. Former members of the orchestra include some of the most important soloists, vocalists, composers, and arrangers in jazz history: Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Jo Jones, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Thad Jones, Joe Williams, Sonny Payne, Snooky Young, Al Grey, John Clayton, Dennis Mackrel and others.

Barnhart has been a featured trumpet soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra for the past 20 years. A graduate of Florida A&M University, Barnhart is also an accomplished solo recording artist with Unity Music, published author (The World of Jazz Trumpet - A Comprehensive History and Practical Philosophy (Hal Leonard)), and has been Professor of Jazz Trumpet/Jazz Studies at Florida State University since 2004.

His first concert as leader of the Orchestra on September 25, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia at the Cobb Energy Center, is a tribute to Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Joe Williams.

"I take this position very seriously,” Barnhart said, “and will do my very best to continue the great legacy for which we are known. Mr. Basie and his musicians set a precedent in Jazz that has been given to us to preserve and protect. I want us to continue to work together to ensure that we are always adhering to the highest standards on and off the bandstand, but I want us to have fun too. I believe that the more serious we are the more fun we can have. Mr. Basie himself said that a happy band is a great band. I want us to leave no doubt after every single tune we play that we are the greatest jazz orchestra on this planet. In every respect. Period. I want that stage to be on fire when we finish."

 

For the full official press release, please click here.