Nebraska Jazz Orchestra

Nebraska Jazz Orchestra on stage.

The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra was founded in 1975 and is one of the Midwest’s premier big bands, celebrating over 40 years of great performances. The ensemble’s concerts feature a variety of traditional big band compositions by jazz masters such as Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, reflecting the rich legacies of the Mississippi Basin territory bands. The ensemble also adds to this legacy by performing new compositions and arrangements regularly.

The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra (NJO) has produced eight volumes of recordings featuring more than 60 original compositions and arrangements written by the ensemble’s members, alumni, and friends. The ensemble released its most recent CD, NJO 40 Volume VIII, in April 2017 in celebration of the NJO’s 40th anniversary.

Reviews of the NJO’s recordings and live performances by both local and nationally syndicated media and guest artists have praised the ensemble. A few of their notable quotes include: "proof positive that jazz isn't just a New York or New Orleans or Chicago or Kansas City thing." - Jazz Times; “...their overall sound resembles that of a polished studio band...their joint dedication to the principles of sectional continually in evidence...” - Down Beat; “I can’t resist observing that the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra opens Christmas Jazz with the best arrangement of The Little Drummer Boy I’ve ever heard…the orchestra plays with greater assurance and precision and is undaunted by the inclusion of strenuous charts…Christmas Jazz can furnish a sumptuous musical backdrop for any (holiday) plans one may have in mind.” -; “The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra is world class!!”Bobby Watson.

The NJO participates in the touring programs of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and has toured extensively throughout the Midwest. The NJO has also performed in England, Scotland, Germany and France. In 1997 the NJO performed at the prestigious Montreux International Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. In 2007, the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra was featured in the NET documentary “Hard Times Swing,” and the same year the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Performing Arts Organization.

In addition to their annual concert series in Lincoln, touring concerts, special events, and recording productions, the NJO presents workshops and master classes for student groups ranging from elementary to college. The group also sponsors the Jazz Goes to School program, Jazz 101, NJO Young Jazz Artist Competition, and the NJO Young Lions All-Star Big Band.

The NJO regularly features locally and nationally renowned jazz artists. Paul Shaffer, Doc Severinsen, Clark Terry, Karrin Allyson, Marvin Stamm, Freddie Hubbard, Laurie Frink, Marilyn Maye, Kahil El’Zabar, Victor Lewis, Jay McShann, Dave Brown, Bill Watrous, Don Menza, John LaBarbera, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Benny Powell, Dave Stryker, and Bobby Watson are among the many fine jazz artists the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra has hosted for Nebraska audiences. The NJO also performed with Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine in April 2017 and Paul Shaffer in January 2019.

Former members of the ensemble who have gone on to make a name for themselves include Ryan Kisor (Columbia Jazz Artist and member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra & Mingus Big Band), Matt Wallace (sax soloist with Maynard Ferguson), Jeff Newell (featured in Downbeat Magazine article and a winner in the Hennessy Best of Chicago Jazz Search) and Rex Cadwallader (jazz composer and arranger).

Blue House with the Rent to Own Horns

Montage of musicians playing live on stage.

Blue House is an internationally known band that was formed in 1990. Blue house was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 2018. 

The members are:

Joe Putjenter - Drums, Vocals
Stan Harper - Saxophone, Keyboards, Vocals
David Eames - Guitar, Vocals
Mike Gallegos - Bass, Vocals
Joel Edwards - Trumpet, Vocals
Scott Vicroy - Saxaphone, Vocals
Brian England - Organ

Juke Butter

Mitch Towne, Chad Stoner, and Andrew Brookins posing together with high-rise building in the background.

Neo-vintage organ trio JUKE BUTTER delivers high energy, deep grooving funk, r & b, and jazz. "Juke" is Creole word that means to get disorderly and raise a ruckus. Juke joints and juke bands helped people get loose and party their cares away. Why Butter? Because butter makes it better!

Mitch Towne is a keyboardist and touring musician, and is widely considered as the “go-to” Hammond organist in the Midwest. His ability to move seamlessly between diverse styles has made him a sought-after side-man with artists as varied as jazz/R&B artist and Grammy-winning producer Terrace Martin, jazz heavyweights Ryan Kisor, Dave Stryker and Jerry Bergonzi, blues artists Eric Gales and Ben Poole, and multi-platinum artist Aloe Blacc. In 2015, Towne played organ on the track “Push” for the album “Velvet Portraits” by Terrace Martin, which was nominated for a 2016 Grammy for “Best R&B” album. Towne is an endorsing artist for Crumar Instruments, Motion Sound Amplifiers and Lounsberry Pedals.

Saxophonist Chad Stoner has been lifting and inspiring audiences for three decades. Chad’s musical “voice” is a powerfully soulful expression of his gospel, R&B, jazz, and world influences. An Omaha native, Chad has been a perennial favorite at Jazz On The Green, The Omaha Riverfront Jazz & Blues Festival, The Omaha Blues, Jazz, and Gospel Festival, the Breckenridge Jazz Festival, and The LOVAM Music & Arts Festival.

Drummer Andrew Brookins is a Omaha Native. Drew has toured the country and has been featured on many recordings and albums. Some of his most known work is with the Salem Baptist Church and their Christmas Productions at the Holland Arts and Performance Center, Omaha.

Darryl White Ensemble

Darryl White with trumpet.

Dr. Darryl White is associate professor of trumpet at the Glenn Korff School of Music. White's performance experiences include a wide range of idioms. He has appeared as guest soloist with the Omaha Symphony, Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, Mesa Chamber Orchestra, Grand Junction Symphony, Lake Forest Chamber Orchestra, Roaring Fork Jazz Festival, University of Nebraska Faculty Brass Quintet, the University Faculty Jazz Quartet and many other solo appearances and guest clinicians with college jazz bands and orchestras across the country.

A native of Warren, Ohio, White has been playing trumpet since the age of 9. Before his current position at the University of Nebraska, White's first college teaching experience was at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colo., in 1993 where he taught for two years. White holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Youngstown State University, a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Colorado. While in Denver, he was a member of the Aries Brass Quintet-in residence at University of Denver-Lamont School of Music and the Denver Brass. At Lamont he was Instructor of Trumpet and also participated with the Faculty Jazz Quintet.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal

Josh Hoyer, Blake DeForest, Mike Keeling, Benjamin Kushner, Harrison ElDorado stand in front of black vintage convertible on forest road.

"Hoyer formed Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal in 2012 in famed blues town Lincoln, Nebraska. The award-winning five-piece band includes some of the area's most revered and accomplished musicians. Joining Hoyer (keyboards/vocals) is Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar), and Harrison ElDorado (drums). Inspired by the sounds of Stax, Motown, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philly and San Francisco, the band continuously crosses musical boundaries both in style and era, and joins forces each show with a common goal - to have the crowd dancing so much they forget even their smallest troubles. On March 26, 2020, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal released Natural Born Hustler, their 5th studio album and first album with new label partner, Color Red. The album was recorded in May and November of 2019 at Color Red studio in Denver, CO. Natural Born Hustler was recorded and produced by Color Red co-owner and guitarist of The New Mastersounds, Eddie Roberts. The pairing of Roberts and Hoyer turned out to be a perfect union of sound and writing and the band has finally captured the realness of their live shows with Color Red. Recorded straight to tape with minimal overdubbing, the album is all about Soul and Vibe. Available worldwide in record stores, on CD and Vinyl, and on all streaming platforms, the album has recieved rave reviews internationally includingAmerican Songwriter, saying “fans of the retro music associated with the Daptone and Coalmine labels will gravitate to this…Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal perfected their approach on stage where it counts, infusing these performances with an electrifying, pulse pounding and well, colossal presence.”

On January 18th, 2019, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal released Do It Now, their fourth full length studio album. The album was recorded at Silver Street in Ashland, NE and at Make Believe Studios in Omaha, NE. Upon its initial European release in August 2018, the album drew rave reviews from European publications with Blues Magazine stating, “Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal still prove to be at the top of the contemporary soul movement.” The band promoted the album on their second European tour; a 37-city outing spanning 6 different countries. Do It Now is available on vinyl, CD and all streaming platforms. Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal hit the road again in 2018 as they traveled to over 25 states and played numerous festivals across the United States. On January 26th, 2018, Hoyer released The End of the Night, a 3-song EP and solo side project with veteran Nashville songwriters Jay Knowles (Harry Connick Jr, Blake Shelton), and Jon Coleman (Trace Adkins). In 2017, Josh was featured as a contestant on NBC's The Voice, and the band completed their first European tour; a 27-city stint capped with a live album release from their show in Brussels, Belgium.The hard working band completed several national tours from 2015-2017, playing more than 150 shows in 32 states each year, including opening for George Clinton, Charles Bradley, Booker T Jones, and Muscle Shoals Revue. In 2016, the magic of their live show caught the attention of producer Ken Coomer (Wilco, Uncle Tupelo), who joined with the band to record their third full-length album. Running From Love, was recorded at Nashville's historic Sound Emporium, and once again features Hoyer's trademark vocals and the band's signature groove. The album was released on April 8, 2016, on Silver Street Records, and is available on vinyl, CD, and all streaming platforms.

Thanks to our sponsors

  • Union Bank & Trust logo
  • Lincoln Community Foundation logo
  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln logo
  • Legacy Retirement Community logo
  • Lee & Debbie Stuart Family Foundation
  • NBC Bank logo
  • Eastmont logo
  • Lied Center for Performing Arts logo
  • Valentino's logo
  • Pearle Francis Finigan Foundation
  • Eagle Group logo
I aM here!!!