Jim Culbertson is celebrating his thirty-ninth year serving as the Music Director and Conductor for the Decatur Municipal Band. He is very active as guest clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States in both the jazz and concert areas and remains an active professional trumpet player. Jim continues his long held philosophy of developing programs for the muni that are both entertaining to the audience and musically rewarding to the musicians.
Jim Culbertson was the driving force in the Decatur West End Music program in Decatur for 39 years, preparing hundreds of students for careers in music as teachers and performers as well as instilling an appreciation for music that can last a lifetime. For 33 years he led the MacArthur High School Band Program, in which the Jazz Band earned the distinction as one of the premier jazz groups in the US. The band was awarded 37 Down Beat magazine Student Music Awards in an assortment of categories, garnering the top spot as the Best High School Jazz Band in the U.S. four times (1989, 1991, 1992 and 2002) and best jazz combo twice (2002 & 2008). The jazz band traveled extensively, including six summer concert tours to Tokyo Japan, the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands and Jazz Festivals in Montreux Switzerland, Umbria Italy, and Vienne France.
Culbertson has served as Vice-President of the Jazz Division of the Illinois Music Educators Association and is the past Vice-President of the Illinois unit of IAJE. He is also been involved with writing reviews of new jazz band publications for The Instrumentalist magazine 1990-2005. he was National Band Association jazz chair from 1999-2003 and also served as the coordinator and director of the NBA All- American Jazz Band for the 2000 convention in San Antonio. Jim was a member of the Resource Team for the International Association of Jazz Educators, 2000 - 2008.
Jim was selected by Downbeat Magazine (June 2009 Issue), to receive the “National Jazz Educator Achievement Award for 2009”. Chosen by the Downbeat staff and international leaders in the field, Mr. C was one of only three jazz educators to receive this prestigious honor as a result of his work with students at MacArthur through the years and his 39 year history of being a leader in jazz education. Jim was chosen as the “Citizen of The Year, 2012”, sponsored by the City of Decatur and presented by Mayor Mike McElroy, at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Ceremony May 23, 2012.