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Professor Emeritus Jim Ketch

Jim Ketch It has commonly been said that no one has done more for jazz education in the state of North Carolina than Jim Ketch. He served as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of North Carolina for 43 years from 1977 until he retired July 1, 2020. During these years, he hosted hundreds of guest artists of the highest caliber who have performed with the students in the UNC Jazz Band and Jazz Combos in concerts each semester. As a gifted speaker, combined with his great sense of humor and his excellent organization skills, Jim Ketch organized many significant events that have drawn large audiences and have created generations of lasting friendships between the guest artists, students, and audience members. He established the Carolina Jazz Festival during his first year at UNC, and in later years, he developed a long-standing partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. That partnership has resulted in bringing many world class artists to serve as clinicians and adjudicators at the Carolina Jazz Festival who inspired hundreds high school students from across the state at the annual event. Outside of the university, Jim Ketch has served on the faculty of the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop, working alongside some of the most renowned performers and educators in the field at the annual two-week event. He likewise continues to serve as Associate Director of Swing Central at the Savannah Music Festival where he works closely with renowned artists, Marcus Roberts, Jason Marsalis, and Wycliffe Gordon.

Jim Ketch mouths sounds while directing students in the UNC Jazz Ensemble in February 2020. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

In addition to his career as a jazz educator, Jim Ketch has been equally passionate about his role as a performer and teacher of classical trumpet. As a Bach/Selmer Paris trumpet artist and clinician for the Conn-Selmer Corporation, he has performed at 15 conferences of the International Trumpet Guild and has appeared as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician in hundreds of concerts nationally.

A list of his students who have gone on to have fulfilling careers both inside and outside the field of music would be lengthy, but includes Holden Thorp, a chemist and musician who became Chancellor of UNC in 2008, and John Parker, who holds the prestigious position of Associate Principal Trumpet of the Houston Symphony.

Though now retired from the University, Jim Ketch continues to teach private students and to perform and maintain an active role in music education.