GET TO KNOW THE NORTHWEST ARKANSAS JAZZ SOCIETY

Our Story

For the past 31 years, the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society (NAJS) has been a community leader in presenting world-class jazz performers in venues across Northwest Arkansas. We're a non-profit membership organization that seeks to present, preserve, promote, and celebrate the great American art form known as jazz through education, concert presentation, and artist promotion.

Our operating funds are secured through membership fees, grants, ticket sales, and merchandise sales. We rely on the generosity of the Northwest Arkansas community and are grateful for the continued support of many. Today, our work of celebrating jazz is stronger than ever. We seek to find innovative ways to engage with new and diverse audiences and keep jazz alive and well.

A History of WorLd-Class Presentations


A shortlist of talent presented over the years includes Pat Metheny, Eliane Elias, The Yellowjackets, Claudia Acuña, Bill Frisell, Kenny Barron, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Lucy Woodward, Ray Anderson, Joey DeFrancesco, Kim Prevost, Kevin Mahogany, James Williams, Greg Osby, Frank Vignola, David Sanchez, Bobby Watson, Bob Dorough, Sheila Jordan, and Danilo Perez.

View Local Musicians

Bringing Jazz to NWA VENUES including... 


...Walton Arts Center, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, George's Majestic Lounge, 21C Hotel, Bordino's, Teatro Scarpino, Eureka Springs Auditorium, and the University of Arkansas.

ACTIVITIES 

& PROGRAMS 


Our ongoing activities include The Summer Jazz Concert Series, Jazz All-Stars Youth Ensemble, Jazz Jam for local musicians, advanced study scholarships, and artist support for performance, recording, and educational projects.

NAJS Staff

Robert Ginsburg

Founder & Artistic Director

Graham Stewart, 
Executive Director

Robert's life in music for over four decades has forged a permanent presence for jazz within the Northwest Arkansas cultural landscape.


In 1979 Robert began producing a jazz radio show on KUAF-FM. Today "Shades of Jazz," Robert's Friday 10 p.m. to midnight broadcast, stands as the station's longest-running program. 


In 1992 Robert founded the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society, a non-profit, community-based membership organization producing a fall-to-spring series featuring major jazz musicians. A year later, Robert joined the steering committee assigned to bring focus and direction to Fayetteville's then-emerging Walton Arts Center. When the multi-venue performing arts center opened its doors that year he was named its "jazz curator" – another position he still holds.


Most recently, with the support of the Walton Family Foundation and Walton Arts Center, Robert has launched the "Jazz Education Initiative". The Initiative cultivates jazz appreciation to sustain the jazz art form through education programs integrating school performance, workshops, artists-in-residency, and public performance opportunities. The flagship of the program is the Jazz All-Stars Youth Ensemble


In 2010 he received the Arkansas Governor's Arts Award for Community Development and in 2016 he was the recipient of the Jazz Journalist Association Hero Award.



Jacob Christiansen,
Operations Manager

Jacob is a graduate student at the University of Montana, studying theatre directing. He has spent more than six years as a professional web content developer, assisting nonprofits and businesses in building their online presence. 


Jacob and his wonderful wife Brianne worked at First United Presbyterian Church for more than five years before moving to Missoula, Montana where they live with their two dogs. 

Graham is thrilled to join NAJS as Executive Director. He returned to Northwest Arkansas in 2020, retiring after a thirty-five year career in higher education. He had served primarily as a chief alumni officer overseeing public and private university alumni associations, including at Vanderbilt University, the University of Arkansas, and Ohio University.


An active jazz vocalist and trombonist, he has appeared with the Nashville Jazz Workshop, Fayetteville Jazz Collective, Jazz Spoken Here, and Swing Central. Early in his career, he toured and recorded with Grammy-award winning vocal ensemble The Gregg Smith Singers. Graham has performed more than 25 leading roles in musical theater and opera, and was an award-winning whistler featured in the 2005 documentary film "Pucker Up: the Fine Art of Whistling."

 

 Graham grew up near New York City, and went to college and lived for 30 years in Ithaca, NY. His wife, Tina, is originally from Morrisville, Vermont, near Stowe. They have two children and two grandkids spread between Springdale, AR and Nashville.



Kay Ellen Wilkerson, 
Financial Manager

Kay Ellen is a senior accountant (CPA) specializing in utility accounting. She spent 18 years with Ozarks Electric, retiring in 2020. Kay Ellen spent two years as a CPA with John Ervin, preparing individual and corporate income tax returns, completing Sales and Use Tax Returns, and performing audits of non profits and for profit businesses. She has maintained memberships with AICPA, Arkansas Society of CPAs, NW Chapter ASCPA (where she served as VP and President), and the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives. 


Kay Ellen was a member of the NWA Jazz Society for many years before joining as the Financial Manager in 2013. 


Kay Ellen and her husband Tom have three children and six grandchildren. 

NAJS Board of Directors

Andy Green, 
NAJS President

Andy resides in Bentonville and has earned a PhD in "life on the road" – spending 50+ years in entertainment, musical, theatrical, tourism and hospitality production, and artist and event management. He has numerous gold records and spent 12+ years as the tour manager for REO Speedwagon, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Muscle Shoals Records and All Stars, and Levon Helm; and over 20 + years as an executive director in performing facility management in Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee in the USA, and Sydney, Australia. He has produced literally thousands of events and multiple television specials including Farm Aid I, Hard Rock Rockfests '99 and 2000, and the Montreux Jazz Festival Tour as well as serving as a consultant to the Sydney 2000 and Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics. He is currently the CEO of Ozark Production Services, LLC and Mesa Verde, LLC and an active 35+ year member of IAVM. He is an avid supporter of the performing arts, and his many hobbies include hunting and fly fishing, dogs, horses, cycling, motorcycling, golf, food, wine, live music/theater/arts, and literature. He has one child, and two grandchildren.

Marty Goff burggraf, 
NAJS Vice President

A resident of Fayetteville and graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Nursing. Marty worked as a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors and retired in 2019. She is a jazz lover who has been a member of the NWA Jazz Society since its inception. Her first career was as a registered nurse and became a stockbroker with AG Edwards. She has served on the boards of the Fayetteville Library, Drake Field, and Ozark Literacy Council.


Rick Salonen, 
NAJS Secretary

Rick is instructor in the Music Department at the University of Arkansas and is director of the university Jazz Orchestra and Combos. He received his doctoral degree in Higher Education and MM degree in composition from the University of Arkansas. He has two kids: Alexandra, 17, a Senior at Farmington HS and Derek, 20, a Junior at the University of Arkansas. He enjoys cooking, music, playing games, golfing, woodworking and biking.


He is a prolific jazz composer and arranger of jazz for ensembles at various levels, and is an active performer of classical, jazz and pop with numerous ensembles throughout the region.


MARGARET CLARK

Margaret Clark is a retired UA Professor and public school teacher (Pine Bluff). She received a B.A. from Ark.A.M. & N.(UAPB), plus M.A. & Ed.D. degrees from Univ. of AR. She received a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship to study at the University of Paris and the University of Besancon.


Margaret was the first African American president of the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association, the AR Division and Fayetteville Branch of the American Association of University Women, Fayetteville Business and Professional Women, the Iota chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, the International Society for Key Women Educators, and the Arkansas-East Bolivia Chapter of Partners of the Americas. She spearheaded the chartering of the Phi Alpha Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and served as its founding president.


Margaret's numerous rewards include a MLK Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2019, a UA dormitory was named Margaret Clark Hall. The Washington County Historical Society named her "Citizen of the Year" in 2020, and in 2022 she will be inducted into the AR Women's Hall of Fame.


Margaret's love for jazz began as a teenager in NYC where she was able to see many of the greats play live. She now lives in Fayetteville with her beloved dog, Mia.


PATRICK CONGE

Patrick is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Arkansas, where his specialty is international relations. He is an avid listener of music, especially jazz. He enjoys long bike rides on the Greenway, is willing to try adventurous foods, and savor the experiences of many travels elsewhere. He has lived in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Singapore, and appreciate opportunities to reach out across cultures and classes. As a Professor, he works with a broad and diverse set of audiences, and wants to build and diversify the audience for jazz. By reaching out to different communities in our region, we can not only serve them, but they can inform our musical genres and encourage the performance of jazz that stretches our boundaries.





TIM MCCARLEY 

A resident of Fayetteville and a graduate of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, Tim has been with First Western Financial for ten years and currently serves as Vice President / Financial Advisor. He is a supporter of the arts and a believer in music's ability to nourish kindness, unity, and health.


JERRY MOYE

Jerry Moye enjoyed a 40 year career in the poultry business. An opportunity with Tyson Foods brought he and his family to NW Arkansas in 1993. He retired in 2016, having spent the previous 10 years as Tyson Group VP and President of Cobb-Vantress, Inc. in Siloam Springs. He remains active in the industry through board positions with USPOULTRY Foundation, and Hendrix Genetics, a multi-species genetic company based in Boxmeer, Netherlands.

 

Jerry has been involved in several community organizations including, Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce, NW AR JDRF Board, Keep Dollars in Benton County, and currently sits on the board for Circle of Life Hospice.

 

Jerry is originally from northern New Jersey, just across the Hudson from NYC. His wife, Cherie, is also from the east coast just outside of Washington DC. They have two children, and four beautiful granddaughters spread between Rogers, AR and KCMO.


DARREN NOVOTNY

Darren is a drummer, founding member of the Fayetteville Jazz Collective, recording engineer, and vice-president of Springdale Acoustics, Inc. He has a B.A. in Physics from the University of Arkansas and has been active in the Northwest Arkansas music scene for the past 40 years.


JANICE STANESIC

Janice lives in Fayetteville and retired in 2021 as a financial consultant, Associate Vice President, Investments, with Wells Fargo Investments. She has a BA in general business from Texas Tech U, and is a member of PEO (non-profit with emphasis on girls education), and is a Toys for Tots volunteer. She has two sons and one granddaughter.


Barbara E. Taylor

Originally from Seattle, Barbara is a serial entrepreneur and former New York Times blogger. She moved to Bella Vista from Seattle with her family in 2003. While she grew up playing classical piano, Barbara enjoyed playing jazz standards with her grandfather, a professional jazz saxophonist. Her two sons are both jazz musicians, and members of the NAJS Jazz All-Star Youth Ensemble. She is the co-founder of Allan Taylor & Co. business brokerage in Bentonville.


TOD YESLOW

In 2009, Tod and his partner Jackie moved from Dallas to Fayetteville. Jackie took a leadership role with Walmart, Inc. and Tod continued his law practice. Fayetteville impressed them from the start. It had an established Jazz Society, a burgeoning professional theater, a symphonic orchestra, an extraordinary library, and a citizenry that puts and keeps this all together. Within two years of moving here, Tod joined the Board of Directors for TheatreSquared and The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas.


Tod recognizes the importance of a robust and vibrant music scene in Northwest Arkansas and considers the NWA Jazz Society to be the force and source of all things Jazz here in Northwest Arkansas. Jackie, who is on the Board for Fayetteville Roots, shares and supports Tod's interest in advancing music and arts in Northwest Arkansas. They have committed to retiring in Fayetteville. With their dog and two kitties, they enjoy their house in the Historic District, their adopted community and all it has to offer.

Local Musicians

alphabetical by last name

First Name
Felipe
Last Name
Antonio
Instrument #1
Guitar
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Elizabeth
Last Name
Bainbridge
Instrument #1
Vocals
Instrument #2

First Name
Anthony
Last Name
ball
Instrument #1
drums
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Matt
Last Name
beach
Instrument #1
trombone
Instrument #2
Drums
First Name
Dillon
Last Name
Brouse
Instrument #1
Drums
Instrument #2

First Name
claudia
Last Name
burson
Instrument #1
piano
Instrument #2

First Name
Chase
Last Name
Cavalier
Instrument #1
Trumpet
Instrument #2

First Name
ADam
Last Name
Collins
Instrument #1
Vibes
Instrument #2
Banjo
LINK

First Name
Patrick Leslie
Last Name
DeHart
Instrument #1
Saxophone
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
GAVIN
Last Name
ENGHOLM
Instrument #1
DRUMS
Instrument #2

First Name
Austin
Last Name
Farnam
Instrument #1
Saxophone
Instrument #2

First Name
Charles
Last Name
Faulk
Instrument #1
Piano
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Walter
Last Name
Ferguson
Instrument #1
Drums
Instrument #2

First Name
Allan
Last Name
Gibson
Instrument #1
Trumpet
Instrument #2

First Name
jeff
Last Name
gray
Instrument #1
trumpet
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Jim
Last Name
Greeson
Instrument #1
Guitar
Instrument #2
Bass
First Name
Lance
Last Name
Grigsby
Instrument #1
Trombone
Instrument #2

First Name
michael
Last Name
Hannah
Instrument #1
Saxophone
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Ben
Last Name
Harris
Instrument #1
Guitar
Instrument #2

First Name
jake
Last Name
hertzog
Instrument #1
guitar
Instrument #2

First Name
Jim
Last Name
Jernigan
Instrument #1
Clarinet
Instrument #2

First Name
Mike
Last Name
Johnson
Instrument #1
Bass
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
garrett
Last Name
jones
Instrument #1
double Bass
Instrument #2
Electric Bass
First Name
mickey
Last Name
McFetridge
Instrument #1
Saxophones
Instrument #2

First Name
Matt
Last Name
Nelson
Instrument #1
piano
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Ed
Last Name
Nicholson
Instrument #1
Guitar
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Darren
Last Name
novotny
Instrument #1
drums
Instrument #2

First Name
Liam
Last Name
O'Dell
Instrument #1
Bass
Instrument #2
Electric Bass
First Name
Roby
Last Name
PANTALL
Instrument #1
Guitar
Instrument #2

First Name
Rocky
Last Name
Parsons
Instrument #1
Drums
Instrument #2
Percussion
First Name
ALISHA
Last Name
PATTILLO
Instrument #1
SAXOPHONE
Instrument #2

First Name
Ron
Last Name
Pennington
Instrument #1
Bass
Instrument #2
Mandolin
LINK

First Name
Van
Last Name
POwell
Instrument #1
Bass
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
paul
Last Name
PRice
Instrument #1
Guitar
Instrument #2
Harp Guitar
First Name
Bill
Last Name
PUNCH
Instrument #1
Trumpet
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
drew
Last Name
rogers
Instrument #1
guitar
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Rick
Last Name
salonen
Instrument #1
saxophones
Instrument #2
bass
First Name
Matt
Last Name
Smith
Instrument #1
Guitar
Instrument #2

First Name
Gerry
Last Name
Sloan
Instrument #1
Trombone
Instrument #2

First Name
Clare
Last Name
Starr
Instrument #1
Bass
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Mark
Last Name
Steele
Instrument #1
Drums
Instrument #2

First Name
GRAHAM
Last Name
STEWART
Instrument #1
VOCALS
Instrument #2
TROMBONE
First Name
CHRIS
Last Name
TEAL
Instrument #1
DRUMS
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Ron
Last Name
Thurston
Instrument #1
Saxophone
Instrument #2

LINK

First Name
Fernando
Last Name
Valencia
Instrument #1
Percussion
Instrument #2

First Name
Steve
Last Name
Wilkes
Instrument #1
Drums
Instrument #2

LINK