NCJF Patron Profiles and Comments

Our patrons come from all across the country and from all walks of life. The following are comments from some patrons who have enjoyed their North Carolina Jazz Festival experience, as well as some patron profiles. We will continue to add to these in the coming months.

“During our multi-year involvement as patrons of the annual North Carolina Jazz Festival (NCJF) we have especially enjoyed the enormous talent and enthusiasm of all the special event guests and the NCJF All-Stars. We applaud the Board of Directors for its annual artist selections that continue to achieve a genre balance between traditional and straight-ahead jazz.——” Elaine & Victor Chap

Susie Bock wrote: “Your festival was recommended by some friends and being music lovers, we attended last year. We were amazed at the talent of the musicians. They made the entire festival so much fun! We can’t wait for next year’s event. Thanks and see you then.”

Elena Jones of Wilmington said: “A writer I am not, but a N C Jazz Festival fan I am! I have been attending since before it was an official festival and each year is better that the last.”

Catherine Breeden wrote “As first time patrons of the NC Jazz Festival in 2016, my friend Hank and I spent a weekend listening to outstanding performers and mingling with fellow jazz lovers. A saxophone player himself, Hank particularly enjoyed playing on stage with the musicians during Saturday’s jazz brunch.

Ned Attayek of Durham wrote ” When I attended the North Carolina Jazz Festival for the very first time many years ago, I remember being amazed and a bit surprised at what I was seeing and hearing….the best jazz being performed live by some of the best jazz musicians in the world right here in my own backyard. And every year since, my reaction has been the same. It’s an incredible festival weekend run by fantastic people with great music by great musicians at an accommodating and comfortable venue in a wonderful location! It truly is one of North Carolina’s best-kept secrets. kudos to Sandy and her staff. Looking forward as always to my favorite weekend of the year.”

Liz Ashton, a patron from Texas commented “NCJF will always be on my Texas calendar. True, I’ve only been to 2015 and 2016 affairs, but in that year’s time the quality and the presence of the players–Adrian Cunningham comes to mind–have moved up another notch. I like the 2016 move away from the strictly Bourbon Street beat to what i can only label classic, sophisticated European Jazz, and who could fault the sumptuous Saturday Brunch? Don’t stop!”

Joel Albert of the Potomac River Jazz Club added “First , a compliment – you run a good festival operation in an era of vanishing festivals. Distinguished especially by your choice of players. The year I was able to attend there were four of my jazz camp teachers on stage. More like old home weekend. The second compliment has to do with the way you have arranged for the musicians to encourage your local students at the clinics.”

“Sorry to be so long to write—time does fly. Cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the JazzFest this year. So much fun, best music ever and best I ever attended in the States. It was a WOW! You all do a fantastic job. Keep up the great work.” —Becky Byrd

” I wish to express my sincere appreciation for your dedication, your efforts and your success in making the North Carolina Jazz Festival enjoyable for all of us. We have been attending since the 1990s and Mary and I both believe that the festival has improved each year for the past several years and this year was no exception. For us, it was one of the best ever. We wish you continued success, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. ” —Dr. Bob Notari

Sean CranePlease tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am currently 16 years old and I am a junior at Isaac Bear Early College High School. I was born and raised in Wilmington and I have always had a passion for music.

How long have you been attending the NCJF?
I have attended the NCJF for the past 3 years and I have been a volunteer for the NCJF for the past 2 years.

What do you like about the NCJF?
The NCJF brings world renowned musicians from all over the world and creates intimate shows that are incomparable to other music concerts. I also like that the NCJF is a 3 day event which showcases musicians in different ensembles each day. In addition to having recurring musicians perform, the NCJF seems to always incorporate new musicians each year.

How long have you been a patron?
This will be my first year as a patron.

Do you play a musical instrument and if so, do you participate in the master classes sponsored by the North Carolina Jazz Festival?
I mainly play guitar and have participated in the past 3 master classes led by Bucky Pizzarelli. Bucky is a living legend and it was amazing to learn his approaches to Jazz guitar. Bucky had a very down-to-earth attitude and was accommodating to every level guitar player. He made sure to include everyone and was very personable. I also really enjoyed being able to see Bucky perform after the workshop.

Will you be playing at the patron brunch this coming year?
Yes! This will be my first year playing at the patron brunch and I look forward to this great opportunity.

Do you have an interesting story connected to the NCJF?
Nicki Parrott has performed with some of my personal heroes including Paul McCartney, Slash, Steve Miller and Tommy Emmanuel. I first saw Nicki at The Iridium performing with the Les Paul trio while I was in New York. She was playing with Lou Pallo and Jose Feliciano. It was an amazing experience to see her perform and I was happy to find out she was performing at the NCJF!


Ellen and David DorsettPlease tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ellen: Grew up in Greensboro, NC where I received my music foundation.  Moved to Southport in 1964 and have been in the same house for 48 years.  I’ve been involved with most of the civic, musical and theater organizations in town and have worked in Emergency Medicine for about 35 years, teaching and in the field as a Paramedic and EMT.   I’m still involved with Critical Incident Stress Management for Emergency personnel. My passions are our grandchildren, wildflowers, Colonial Living History interpretations (candle making) and music where I play in a Big Band, Concert Band, Orchestra, Dixieland Band, Jazz Band, pit bands and lots of pick up bands.

David: Coming from Greensboro, NC; I now live in Southport, NC having retired from Progress Energy’s (now Duke Energy) Brunswick Nuclear Steam Plant in 2005 as a Computer and Project Engineer.  My wife, Ellen, and I own a 25 acre farm where we have a grape vineyard with plenty of deer.  Our son, Billy, his wife, Melissa, and four grandchildren live nearby.  Sometimes we have a stray dog or cat. Ellen and I like to travel both far and near.  We just finished a trip down Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway from Front Royal, VA to The Great Smokey Mountains in NC. My hobbies include traveling, listening to Jazz music, backpacking the Appalachian Trail, tending to the vineyard, Prison Ministry, Bible Studies, reading, and playing chess.

How long have you been attending the NCJF?

Ellen: Since it’s second year. (I didn’t know about the first year.)

David: I have been attending the NC Jazz Festival for about 30 years.

How did you first learn of this festival?

Ellen: My good friend, Dick Conrad, told me about it.

David: Ellen told me I was going.

What attracted you to it?

Ellen: The quality of the musicians and the fabulous music.

David: The music, the brunch, the people, and the Pro-Am session.

 How long have you been a patron?

 Ellen: Probably 25 plus years.

David: Yes.

Do you play a musical instrument & if so do you participate in the Patron/All-star Jam  during the Patron Brunch?

Ellen: Yes, I play acoustical bass, violin and a little piano. Dick Conrad finally convinced me to play bass at the jam many years ago.  It is one of the highlights of the festival to be able to play with such great musicians and also to play on such fine basses.

Do you have an interesting story connected to your attending the NCJF?

Ellen: Milt Hinton was one of the finest bass players I have ever heard and such a good person.  He was so encouraging.  One time he took me out in the hall and gave me a slap bass lesson.  Another time Bobby Haggart told me the chart I had played at the jam was a bit boring and could he write me another.  Of course I said yes and then he signed it for me.  Bobby then asked if I was with anyone and I had to admit yes, my husband. Eddie Higgins gave me the bass chart Milt Hinton had played with him and signed it.  Also have charts from several others.  All are treasures as are the memories of meeting, interacting and playing with some of the greatest musicians of our time.


Patron Profile September 2013
Victor and Elaine Chap

NCJF: Please tell us a bit about yourself, Victor.

Victor: I currently reside in Greenville, NC with my wife, Elaine, of nearly 53 years.  We both retired in the latter half of 1991, I from a position as a foreign military aviation analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Elaine from a position as an administrative assistant to a Maryland state circuit court judge. Our daughter and son are in their early 50’s and, by our son, we have two grandsons, the older of whom is a developing jazz enthusiast. Elaine and I are 7 – year members of the East Carolina University (ECU) School of Music Friends of Jazz, an organization which is committed to providing financial and other support to the ECUSchool of Music Jazz Studies Program.  Most of the Friends’ financial support involves the funding of student scholarships.

NCJF: How long have you been attending the North Carolina Jazz Festival? Victor: Since 2010.

NCJF: How did you first learn of this festival?

Victor:  From private discussions with Tom “Tom the Jazzman” Mallison, the long-time president of the ECU Friends of Jazz.

NCJF: What attracted you to it?

Chaps: Tom’s glowing comments about NCJF artist talents.

NCJF: How long have you been a patron?

Victor: Since 2011.

NCJF: Do you have an interesting story connected to your attending the NCJF?

Victor: Attending the NCJF has afforded me the opportunity annually to speak privately with my all-time favorite guitarist – Bucky Pizzarelli, a fellow native from New Jersey.

Agnes and Page Hite

Agnes and Page HiteNCJF:  Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Page:  Agnes and I are retired after too many years in the IT industry. We have  lived in Northern Virginia for the last 26 years. Before that we lived in Houston, TX and ClemsonUniversity in South Carolina. We spend as much time as possible attending live performances, primarily blues and jazz and some theatre. There are so many venues in Washington, DC that it’s hard to keep up. We go to New York two or three times a year for Broadway shows and various musical performances. A recent trip found us at “Old Hats” with Bill Irwin and David Shiner, listening to Fred Hersch and Esperanza Spalding  at the Jazz Standard, then “Kinky Boots the Musical” (incredible) and Bette Midler in “I’ll Eat You Last” (not so much). Later this year we’ll be travelling on the JazzDagen jazz cruise on the St. Lawrence River.  For many years I have run the websites for a number of Blues artists    including Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, Lloyd Jones and others. Agnes and I may not perform onstage, but we do get to enjoy some time back stage.

NCJF:  How long have you been attending the NCJF?

Page: our first, but will DEFINITELY not be our last. We had four in our group and for 2014 we’re trying to fill at least one and possibly two patrons’ tables.

NCJF:  How did you first learn of this festival?

Page:  Through our friend Peter Schmidt, who joined us at the 2013 NCJF along with   his fiancé Diane Berry. Peter learned of it from percussionist Chuck Redd. We introduced Peter to Chuck at a performance by Chuck and Nicki Parrott at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC, so it came full circle.

NCJF:  What attracted you to it?

Page:  I would have to say the opportunity to hear so many great artists over a few days in comfortable surroundings. Both Agnes and I agree that the 2013 NCJF was one of the most satisfying musical experiences of our lives.

NCJF:  How long have you been a patron?

Page:  Just since our first NCJF 2013, but hopefully for a long time to come.

NCJF:  Do you play a musical instrument & if so do you participate in the Patron/All-   star Jam during the Patron Brunch?

Page:  Agnes studied clarinet for 7 years and classical piano for 15 years. I started    out on trumpet and French horn, and then moved on to guitar, bass, and keyboards, primarily in rock and blues. I’m afraid neither of us has the necessary jazz chops to keep up during the Patron Brunch.

NCJF:  Do you have an interesting story connected to your attending the NCJF?

Page:  Not so much a story as a comment. For 19 years Agnes and I have spent a     week each January on the Delbert McClinton and Friends Sandy Beaches Cruise listening to blues, country, Zydeco, and rock artists along with songwriters and late-night piano bar jazz. We hope that we will be able to spend a few days in February at the NCJF for the next 19 years, at least.


Donna Copsey

NCJF: Please tell us a little bit about yourself – (where you live: are you retired, if not what do you do for a living; family; etc.)

Donna: My husband and I moved from Lynchburg, Virginia in 2012 after living there for 22 years. We now live on TopsailIsland in SurfCity. Bernie is working for GE, and I am a retired speech therapist. We have two adult daughters, one living in HamptonVirginia, the other living in Paris, France.

Donna and Bernie Copsey
Donna and Bernie Copsey

NCJF:  How long have you been attending the NCJF?
Donna: We attended the NCJF for the first time in 2013.

NCJF:  How did you first learn of the NCJF?
Donna: I grew up near the beaches of San Diego, California. I have always loved the     ocean and all of it’s creatures, so I was thrilled when we had the opportunity to      move to TopsailIsland near the ocean! I immediately started volunteering at the        Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and RehabilitationCenter.  A week before the           NCJF 2013, a group of us were helping Jean Beasley feed and care for 25 cold s   tunned green and loggerhead sea turtles. In passing conversation, Jean Beasley mentioned the upcoming jazz festival which she has attended for over 30 years. I told her how much my husband loved jazz, but with the jazz festival only     a week away, thought maybe I would look into tickets for the upcoming year. Well, a few days later I got a call from Jean telling me one of her good friends    could not attend the festival as planned and would we be interested in the tickets?     My husband, Bernie has been a fan of jazz for years. When I asked him if he would be interested in going, it took him about 10 seconds to say “YES!”, especially when he heard that Bucky Pizzarelli would be playing!

NCJF:  What attracted you to it?
Donna: I have listened to jazz over the years because my husband  loves  jazz.  Over time I have developed an appreciation for jazz. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of  the talented musicians at the NCJF 2013. We are both looking forward to the NCJF 2014.



Bob Troxell SwinginMy name is Bob Troxell (in red sweater in photo), a 90 year old jazz trombonist from Pennsylvania Dutch Lancaster, PA, a Penn State graduate engineer who worked as computer consultant with Armstrong Cork Co. for 41 years, helping them to manufacture and sell better resilient floors and acoustical ceilings, all this time married for 63 years to my wife Kay, aka “Snickerdoodle”, Boss Clown for many years to “Fools of Faith” troupe at 1st Methodist Church of Lancaster also serving as grandma to 12 Carolina, Virginia and  Pennsylvania kids.  She too is a great fan of traditional jazz.

We have been enthusiastic patrons of the Festival for 12 swinging years, having been first- invited by my friend and guitarist, Don Goldstrom of Lancaster and eagerly await the offerings of 2014. I particularly enjoy having the chance to play with the “big boys” in the Saturday Brunch pro-am sessions, where they are most accommodating and helpful to those of us who are not working professional musicians.

Several years ago, I was on-stage for the pro-am standing between the marvelous clarinetist, Kenny Davern and sax man, Kenny Peplowski when Kenny played a fine chorus to “Makin’ Whoopee”.  Because we had been joking around prior to the number, when Kenny finished, I reached out for a big boquet of flowers positioned on the piano and presented it in grand fashion to Kenny.  Peplowski played next and following that, Kenny presented the bouquet to him amid much laughter and following my solo, Kenny presented it to me, this time with the audience in stitches at our antics.  That typifies the fun of the festival for musicians and audiences alike.

In the Lancaster area, I play several big band and combo jazz session a year but the highlight of each  year for Kay and me is to attend the North Carolina Jazz Festival in that very hospitable city of Wilmington, absorbing several days of fine jazz and warm hospitality.

Swing easy, live jazz is best!
Bob Troxell


NCJF Patron April Profile:  Nicki Modaber

Our patrons come from all across the country and from different walks of life.  In the following months we will give you a chance to meet some of them through our “Patron Profile” column.   We start out this month with Nicki Modaber. 

Nicki and collieNCJF:  Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Nicki:  I live with a willful collie in Woodbridge, VA, about ½ hr south of D.C., and work for Arlington County Government, doing financial management of a couple of federal grants.

NCJF: How long have you been attending the NCJF?
Nicki: Since 2007

NCJF: How did you first learn of this festival?
Nicki: I was one of the organizers of the former Crystal City Jazz Celebration (CCJC) in Arlington, Virginai and met Mary Ruth Cooper and Elena Jones when they attended the CCJC in 2006.  They invited me to attend the NCJF the following February.

NCJF: What attracted you to it? 
Nicki: I enjoy the older styles of jazz very much, knew some of the musicians from working with CCJC, and am totally charmed by downtown Wilmington.

NCJF: How long have you been a patron?
Nicki: 5 years

NCJF: Do you play a musical instrument & if so do you participate in the Patron/All-star Jam during the Patron Brunch?
Nicki: I dabble in piano, flugel horn, Native American flute, levered folk harp, and didgeridoo.  The NCJF crowd is one tough audience.  They want to hear very good jazz, and I’m not there yet, so I haven’t opted to play in the patron’s jam.

nicki modaberNCJF: Do you have an interesting story connected to your attending the NCJF?
Nicki: The year the twin jazz musicians played at NCJF, Mary Ruth wasn’t feeling well and opted not to attend the Friday night concert.  Months before the festival, one of the patrons at Mary Ruth’s table had asked the twins to play “Memories of You” at NCJF, because he knew she loved that song.  They honored his request and played it on Friday night, when she wasn’t there.  The plot thickens.  I felt bad that Mary Ruth was missing all of that great jazz on Friday night, so I called her from the concert on my cell phone.  I happened to phone her during the twins’ set.  I didn’t know that the patron had requested “Memories of You” to be played.  After they played a couple of songs, I figured that she might enjoy another song or two, so I just set the phone down on the table.  They then played “Memories of You,” and Mary Ruth DID get to hear her favorite song after all.