J.C. Combs is the timpanist with the American Sinfonietta, as well as timpanist and principal percussionist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. His work in pioneering unique percussion ensemble literature has gained him considerable recognition. A video entitled War Games for Professional Wrestlers and Extended Percussion by Walter Mays, and produced in conjunction with the Nebraska Public Television Network, has been selected for the Cannes Video Festival in Cannes, France. Portions of the video were also selected for the movie, Twister. His latest video project "Masters of Percussion," produced by the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, featured Combs and the Wichita State University Percussion Ensemble along with Ed Soph, Dave Samuels, and Andy Narell. The video was selected as one of the fifteen best entertainment videos on PBS for 1990. In 1993, the video was selected to go in the permanent archive of the Smithsonian. He also recently produced a video/book/instrument package for elementary age children to learn to play Samba. In collaboration with Michael Spiro and Janet Cramer, the video has made nationwide recognition.
As a performer, Combs has toured Europe with the American Sinfonietta, and served as timpanist with the Oklahoma City Symphony, the Kansas City Civic Ballet, and the Kansas City Lyric Opera. He has also served as percussionist with the Resident Jazz Sextet at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and has performed with various jazz groups throughout the Kansas City area. As a percussionist, he has also served on the staff of both the Stan Kenton and National Stage Band Camps.
Dr. Combs first began his percussion teaching career at the University of Oklahoma. From there, he traveled to the University of Missouri at Kansas City where he served as Assistant Professor of Percussion. Today, he is a Professor of Music at Wichita State University. He has been the recipient of both the Kansas Regents Award for outstanding teaching, and the Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching at Wichita State University.
As a composer, his publications include solo pieces published by Opus Music of Chicago, and two ensemble piences published by Columbia Pictures Publishing. Also, C. Alan. Publishing has released eight new vibraphone and marimba solos which Combs has put on video, plus one large ensemble piece, also on video. Also, available through C. Alan Publishing is the new CD, World Influences, recorded in the fall of 1997, featuring works of Walter Mays, David Bake r, Phil Hawkins, and Janet Cramer.
Through both the Yamaha and the Zildjian Corporations, Dr. Combs makes guest clinic appearances as a featured clinician, guest conductor and performer. Combs' most recent clinic presentations include The University of Michigan, and the Eastman School of Music. Combs' newest venture is as a performer on a new CD, Friends and Family released last fall. The CD primarily features his own compositions, accomanied by his sons, Los Angeles recording artist Steve Houghton, and former students, including New York recording artist, Matt Wilson.