New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival dedicated to memory of George West


Headline Surfer / NSB News video produced by Multimedia Editor Serafina Frederick / Stetson University's George West leads an ensemble during the 2008 New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival at the Brannon Center in New Smyrna Beach. West passed away earlier this year at the age of 81.

NSB Jazz Festival producer Marc Monteson presents a check in 2011 to George West of Stetson University / Headline SurferSteton Professor George West / Headline SurferPhotos for Headline Surfer / Local music producer Marc Monteson presents a check from the New Smyrna Beach Jazz Fest Fund in 2011 to composer George West (shown at right and in inset) to further Stetson University jazz programs.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- When the New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival kicks off Sept. 29, the first in a series of events for the start of the inaugural Fall Beach Weeks sponsored by the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority, the late Stetson University jazz composer George West of Stetson will be there -- in spirit.  

The NSB Jazz Festival is decicated to the memory of West who died Jan. 19, following a lengthy illness. He was 81.

West was instrumental in bringing his Stetson jazz ensembles to prior festivals here in this tourist beach community.

West, a 16-year professor of music at Stetson University in DeLand, influenced countless students and colleagues at the private campus in in cities throughout Central Florida for various jazz ensembles in a career that spanned half a century.

The l;ate George West, music professor at Stetson UniversityHere is the obituary for Dr. George West, posted by Stetson University on Jan. 21, two days after the 16-year professor of music's death after a lengthy illness:

George Addison West, 81, of DeLand, Fla., musician and jazz educator, died under hospice care on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, after living courageously with myeolodysplastic syndrome (MDS) for several years. Influencing countless students and colleagues throughout an academic career that spanned over 50 years, he devoted his professional life to advocating for jazz education and celebrating a truly American art form.
West taught music theory and low brass and directed jazz ensembles at Stephen F. Austin State University (TX), the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada), and James Madison University (VA), where he established and directed the jazz program for 25 years before retiring in 1996.
After being named Professor Emeritus at JMU, West joined the faculty of Stetson University’s School of Music, where as an adjunct professor he directed jazz studies and conducted the Stetson University Jazz Ensemble for 16 years, before recently retiring a second time.
Founder and director of the jazz program at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (MI) for 35 summers, West led 14 Blue Lake International Jazz Ensemble “people to people” tours to Europe and directed the Blue Lake Monster, the camp’s resident faculty jazz ensemble. In recognition of his contributions, Blue Lake dedicated its 2005 summer season to “Doc West.”
Born March 11, 1931, to musical parents LeRoy and Grace Hunt West in Hightstown, N.J., West graduated from Hightstown High School and The Peddie School. He found his passion for jazz when as a 16-year-old trombonist he accepted a gig for a Christmas dance, organized a group from musician friends at school and wrote the charts they played that night.
He earned his bachelor’s degree at Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Ohio), where he formed and led a volunteer jazz band. At Michigan State University, from which he earned his master’s degree and doctorate in music theory, West established and directed MSU’s first jazz ensemble.
Before turning to teaching, West was trombonist and arranger with Kai Winding’s Trombone Sound Septet, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, and “The Airmen of Note,” the premiere jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force. Later, as a fulltime professor, he continued to compose and arrange music for jazz ensemble and to perform on trombone and bass. He was a life member of the International Association of Jazz Educators, serving as Mid-Southeast Region coordinator and publications reviewer. He was also a brother in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity.
Much beloved by his family, West is survived by his wife Jean, dean of Stetson’s School of Music; sons David (Lisa) of McKinney, Texas, and Andrew (Leia) of Winter Park, Fla.; daughter Robin (Steven) Markussen of Richardson, Texas; step-children Mary (Charles) Rickman of Palm Coast, Fla., and Andrew (Lisa) Rickman of DeLand, Fla.; grandchildren Hunter and Megan Markussen and Evan West; step-grandsons Kristopher, Benjamin and William; and sister Constance West of Bryn Mawr, Pa.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at First Presbyterian Church, 724 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand. Memorial gifts, in lieu of flowers, may be made in West’s name to James Madison University, Jazz Studies Program. 

Here is the Fall Beach Weeks Schedule:

18th annual Port Orange Family Days,  Oct 3-6;
Art Stroll/Gallery Walk Oct 05, 2013 (10 am - 7 pm) in the Historic Canal Street District
Free, Franki K In Concert Oct 5 (11 am - 1 pm);
Inaugural New Smyrna Beach Book Festival,  Oct 5-6;
Fourth annual Canaveral Seashore Plein Air Paint out,  Oct 7-12;
14th annual Bill Fish Invitational, Oct 10-13;
New Smyrna Beach Country & Bluegrass Music Festival,  Oct 10-13;
Go Fish Scavenger Hunt Oct 12 (10 am - 5 pm);
4th annual East Coast Cruiser Night,  Oct 12 (4-8 pm), Historic Canal Street;
4th annual Progressive Food & Wine Pairing, Oct 12 (5 - 7 pm), Canal Street;
8th annual Florida Harmonica Festival,  Oct 20;
Defending Lizzie Oct 25-Nov 3 (8 pm), Little Theatre, New Smyrna Beach;
Sand Art Festival & Competition,  Oct 26 (9 am - 3);
New Smyrna-Ween Spooktacular Surf & SUP Contest, Oct 26-27 (9 am);
39th annual Halloween Parade & Costume Contest (4 pm), Canal Street.

For more information on the fall Beachweeks schedule, please go to

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.