UAM hosts inaugural Jazz Week, honors Les Pack


The Division of Music at the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) hosted its inaugural UAM Jazz Week from April 8 to April 10. The event featured workshops and lessons guided by jazz experts, four guest artists, fellow musicians and UAM educators. 

UAM Jazz One, joined by the guest artists and educators in the UAM Master of Music program, hosted a free concert on April 9. Guest artists included Tim Leahey, former jazz soloist for the United States Air Force Airmen of Note; Steve Holley, president of the Association for Popular Music Education; Ben Patterson, former lead trombonist and music director for the United States Air Force Airmen of Note; and Les Pack, renowned jazz composer and professor of music at UAM.  

During the concert, Les Pack was recognized for 40 years in music education, including spending the last 20 years teaching at UAM. Pack has taught in various capacities in music education over the years, including as a jazz band director, guitar instructor and music theory instructor at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Pack was also recognized at the concert for his upcoming induction into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame, which will occur on June 17 at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas.  

Dr. Justin Anders, UAM chair and associate professor of music, congratulated Pack for his accomplishments, stating, "While it is impossible to list all of Mr. Pack's many accomplishments, watching him teach is always a joy. I have unique insight because, like many others, I was once a student of his. I can attest that he has the innate ability to explain difficult concepts in the most basic language possible. After 40 years, I don't think he can imagine his impact on countless students."    

UAM Jazz Week was organized by Jason Smith, director of jazz studies and assistant professor of music at UAM. “UAM Jazz Week developed from an idea to bring professional musicians together for a week to share jazz performances and knowledge,” Smith said. “UAM opened this opportunity free to all musicians, from students to educators in the region. Attendees were given full access to expert guest artists and built connections through jazz music with other students. I have heard UAM Jazz Week left students feeling inspired and fortunate to have this experience at their university.”    

Dr. Steven Harper, dean of the UAM School of Arts and Humanities, noted, “UAM Jazz Week was a tremendous success and reminder of the excellent work that UAM's faculty and students do every day. The students who participated included music majors from our Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Jazz Studies programs, as well as students from across the campus who love hearing and making music. The Division of Music provides both professional training for aspiring musicians and cultural enrichment for UAM, Monticello and the entirety of southeast Arkansas.”  

For more information about UAM Jazz Week or music programs at UAM, contact Jason Smith at or 870-460-1660