JR Erb, an experienced leader who served 29 years as a band player, conductor and manager with the US Air Force, has been welcomed as the new conductor and music director of the Gulf Coast Big Band.
A jazz bassist, JR moved to Naples in 2022, after his retirement as a USAF Chief Master Sergeant. He had been scheduled to play with the Band this season under the direction of our late director Dan Miller, but now will step in for Dan, who was his former classmate at University of North Texas. JR earned a degree in jazz studies there.
As a musician in the Air Force, JR served at installations around the country, including Boston, Honolulu, Dayton, Colorado Springs and Hampton (Virginia).He was the non-commissioned Officer of the Concert Band at Langley Air Force Base and the manager for the Band of Flight at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In 2013, JR led the 10-piece horn band, Full Spectrum, which deployed to the Middle East as the premiere and only music unit for Air Force Central Command. The band performed in eight countries to raise the morale of coalition forces and assisted the US Department of State, fostering support from allied nations in the region. Early in his music career, JR played at Disney World, and on Disney cruise ships. A native of Pittsburgh PA, JR is married with four children and two dogs.
“I’m truly honored to get the opportunity to work with the Gulf Coast Big Band – everyone has been so supportive and welcoming that I can’t wait to get started,” said JR. “Losing Dan is a huge blow, not just to this group, but to the SW Florida music scene and beyond. My hope is to honor his legacy by playing the music he loved: Jazz!