James Farrell Vernon is the Jazz Ensemble director and saxophone instructor at IPFW. Before joining the IPFW faculty in 2002, he was Assistant Director of Bands, Director of Jazz Studies, and saxophone instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University, and prior to that he was Professor of Saxophone at James Madison University in Virginia.
Vernon served as part-time faculty at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). He has a Bachelor's degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana University where he was awarded the prestigious Performer's Certificate on saxophone. Vernon also has a Master of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Denver and Doctor of Arts degree in Saxophone Performance and Pedagogy with a secondary emphasis in Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Colorado.
Vernon, a native of Greensboro, North Carolina, is an active performer, educator, composer, arranger, clinician and adjudicator. In both 1998 and 1999, Down Beat magazine named Vernon the top Blues/Pop/Rock Instrumental Soloist. With UNC Combo II, he won another Down Beat award in 2000. He has played at jazz festivals in Monaco and Sedona, Arizona.
Dr. Vernon has performed with the Rome Festival Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Greeley Philharmonic, Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and at World Saxophone Congresses in Minnesota, Thailand, and Scotland. He has shared the stage with jazz and pop music luminaries including: Tito Puente, the Manhattan Transfer, Ernie Watts, Ray Charles, Bobby Shew, Louis Bellson, Denis DiBlasio, Al Jarreau, Linda Ronstadt, Roberta Flack, the Shirelles, and the Temptations. He performs locally with jazz big bands, the IPFW faculty jazz combo, classical chamber groups, and Duo Brioso.
Vernon's recording resume includes three groundbreaking classical sopranino saxophone CDs with Centaur Records, several compilation CDs distributed internationally, the Sempre Saxophone Quartet's Music of William Schmidt, and a variety of jazz, rock, and pop CDs. He is a proud Artist/Endorser of P. Mauriat Saxophones, which he plays exclusively.