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Jazz Education Connection of Ohio Update

Eric Dregne
On April 19th, 2023 JECO held elections for leadership officers and new board members. We are proud to announce the election results and are looking forward to building on the successes of previous administrations. Special acknowledgement goes to former President Zach Compston who remains on as the Ad-Hoc OMEA Chair as well as taking the position of Past President.

Newly Elected Officers

Eric Dregne (President) – Eric is a graduate of the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University and is best known as a bass trombonist, jazz historian, and highly respected advocate of jazz, big band and salsa music, He is the founder of the repertory big band, the ‘Skatch’ Anderssen Orchestra, and, became the new Leader/Musical Director of the iconic Dan Zola Orchestra upon Mr. Zola’s retirement.
Eric brings experience as a multiple small business owner, a year staff member in charge of Vendor/Exhibitor Customer Relations for the Jazz Education Network (JEN) annual conference, and his 25 years working in corporate customer service. He is actively involved as a performer, clinician, ensemble coach, and musical contractor. His main passions along with performing are collaborating with schools and other organizations as well as spreading the message of Jazz and Jazz Education.
Nathan Santos (Vice President) – Nathan continues as the VP of JECO and is an integral part of the JECO Leadership team. He received a B.M. from Wilkes University in Music Performance, and a M.M. from the University of Miami (Florida) in Studio Jazz Performance. He has served on university faculties of Tiffin, Heidelberg, Terra State Community College, Indiana-PA, St. Francis, Penn State-Main, Pittsburgh, and Johnstown. He currently provides private instruction at Lesson 1 Studios and Forte Music. He served as guest conductor for PMEA District vocal and instrumental ensemble performances and has been a clinician in PMEA, OMEA State Conferences. Nathan was part of the staff in 2023 for the Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference and is well known as a talented multi-instrumentalist, an outstanding musician as well as being an inspiring educator. He has been previously published in the OMEA TRIAD Magazine.
Mark Russo (Secretary) – With an emphasis on jazz performance, composition, arrangement and improvisation, Mark is a well-respected trumpet player and educator in Northeast Ohio. He holds degrees from Bowling Green State University (Jazz Performance) and Kent State University (Music Education). Mark was the director of bands at Constellation Schools: Parma Community HS and is currently the Band Director at St. Ambrose in Brunswick, OH. His debut album as a leader, "NEW AFFIRMATION" released on Bugles Media, received a 4.5-STAR review on  He is founder of THE JAZZ INITIATIVE, an ensemble dedicated to jazz education. Mark often serves as an adjudicator/guest artist for numerous local high school and college Jazz Festivals. He has also written and edited articles for OMEA’s TRIAD.
George Carr (Treasurer) – is a jazz/classical trombonist and jazz historian that earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Ohio State University. He has lectured on jazz and related music at Cleveland State University, its affiliated College of Law, and at Cuyahoga Community College. As a lawyer, George has worked with national and regional firms, focusing his practice on real estate, commercial disputes, and complex litigation. He has been ranked by his peers among the top 5% of US lawyers, and has created new law on several topics. This includes a decision of the United States Supreme Court that has changed the landscape of patent exhaustion law. He has led Cleveland's Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, connecting artists in need with pro bono legal providers. He has extensive experience in nonprofit management and service, assisting many groups with incorporation, nonprofit status, governance, and grant application and compliance. He served on the Board of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra as Treasurer, and has assisted many composers, performers, and filmmakers in securing their intellectual property rights.
We also welcomed 3 new board members: Rachel Azbell, Korey Black, and Trenton Thacker. More information will be available about them in upcoming JECO communications.
JECO is proud to have a strong and well-rounded group of leaders to help continue to inspire people to get involved in Jazz Education, learn about the history and keep “America’s Classical Music” alive and growing.