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Jim Warrick recently took early retirement after thirty-eight years of teaching jazz, concert and marching bands at the high school and college levels. He was the Director of Jazz Ensembles at New Trier High School (Winnetka, IL- public school in the northern suburbs of Chicago) for twenty-seven years with the school providing four 24-four piece curricular jazz ensembles that rehearsed during the school day and eight combos that rehearsed weekly (sometimes weakly). He completed his Bachelors and Masters Degree at Ohio University (Athens, OH), and his residency and coursework for a Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN). He also directed the Symphonic Band at Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL) in addition to teaching music education classes at Northwestern University, University of Minnesota, Marshall University and DePaul University.
At New Trier High School, Jim created the nationally-known Frank Mantooth Jazz Festival now in its thirty-third year. The non-competitive daylong event, called by Downbeat magazine, “The most educational festival of its kind anywhere” brings more than 1,200 junior high and high school jazz students together to perform and receive private masterclasses by ten nationally-known jazz educators. The festival ends with an evening performance by the New Trier Jazz Ensemble I, followed by a professional jazz ensemble such as the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Woody Herman (twice), the Count Basie Orchestra (five times), Gordon Goodwin’s Phat Band, the Air Force's Airmen of Note (Washington, D.C.) and the Dizzie Gillespie Big Band directed by Dizzie Gillespie.
Under Jim’s leadership as creator/technical designer/installer and faculty sponsor, New Trier offered its students a complete 32-channel audio recording student and 8-camera video production studio. Jim’s students oversaw twenty years of broadcasting all of New Trier’s concerts live over the Internet, Chicago-area cable television and Public Radio. His jazz ensembles produced forty CDs during his time and under his engineering direction.
Jim’s jazz ensembles have performed six times at the Midwest International Band Clinic, at IAJE conventions (JEN), and he has presented clinics at the music education conventions in twelve states. He has guest conducted sixteen all-state jazz ensembles and his New Trier students have received thirty-nine Downbeat Student Musician Awards, including the “Best High School Jazz Ensemble” award four times. Jim is the only public high school educator selected for Downbeat magazine’s “Jazz Education Hall of Fame.” He served for ten years as the Senior Editor of The Instrumentalist magazine and has published more than 125 articles in national and international music education magazines and juried journals. He received the award for “Outstanding Educational Journalism” presented at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. For the past twelve years, Jim has selected the Downbeat magazine Student Musician Awards recipients for high school and junior high jazz groups. Only eight jazz education notables are involved in the process of selecting all the award winners in this international program. He was the jazz area concert/clinic manager for the Midwest International Band Clinic for twenty-six years and taught at the Birch Creek Music Center (Door County, WI) for twenty-four years.
Some of the more than seventy internationally-known guest artists who performed with Jim’s ensembles at New Trier High School included Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Jeff Coffin, Wayne Bergeron, Jamie Aebersold, Mercer Ellington, Clark Terry, and the rhythm sections of the Count Basie Orchestra and the Tito Puente Orchestra. While at New Trier, Jim commissioned twenty-five now-published compositions for jazz ensemble written and guest conducted by such composers as Sammy Nestico, Bob Mintzer, Gordon Goodwin, John Fedchock, Jeff Jarvis, Jamie Simmons, Eric Richards, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Fred Sturm and numerous more. Believing that his students are the best trophies a teacher can receive, his jazz ensembles never participated in competitive music events.
Originally from Kingsport, Tennessee, where he attended Dobyns-Bennett High School (taught by band director, Jewel Tilson), Jim is an active clinician and commissioned composer of jazz, concert and marching band music. He is currently the guest director of the Cleveland High School Jazz Ensembles (Cleveland, Tn). He now lives in Ocoee, Tennessee, with his wife, Judy, where they recently built their dream house on a mountain top overlooking the Cherokee National Forest near whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. (Their view is pictured on the website's home page.) They regularly see black bears near their yard and nightly hear the wail of coyotes politely answered by their Yellow Lab named “God’s Amazing Gracie” who recently celebrated her fifth birthday and is a proud mom of six puppies located in Florida, Tennessee and Chicago. See and friend her Facebook page.
Jim is also a chaplain at the Bradley County Jail and is also a frequent guest chaplain at Louisiana State Prison (Angola) and the Walker State Prison (Georgia)..