Dan Gailey

Director, Division of Jazz Studies
Primary office:
122 Murphy Hall


Dan Gailey is the Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Music at the University of Kansas, where he directs Jazz Ensemble I, teaches courses in jazz composition and arranging, produces the annual KU Jazz Festival, and is director of the KU Jazz Workshop.  He has been named to a coveted Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professorship at KU for 2017-23.  Dan is the recipient of the 1996 IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, presented to an emerging jazz composer from an international field of candidates.  Under his direction, the KU Jazz Studies Program has been the recipient of 25 DownBeat Student Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I’s 2015 award for Best College Jazz Ensemble in the Graduate Division and their Outstanding Performance Award in the same category in 2017.

As director of KU Jazz Ensemble I, Dan has led performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the 2008 and 2014 Montreux Jazz Festivals in Switzerland, the 2014 Jazz a Vienne Festival in France, the 2017 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival in California, and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.  He also directed the band in invited appearances at International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences in New York City, Atlanta and Boston.

The Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra debut CD What Did You Dream? was released in July 2010 on Origin/OA2 Records and features all original compositions by Dan. The CD spent almost 2 years on the JazzWeek Radio Airplay charts, and received very favorable reviews from JAZZIZ, JazzTimes and Cadence magazines, among others.

Dan has directed all-state high school jazz ensembles in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington, along with the 2015 NAfME All-Northwest Jazz Ensemble and the 1996 National Band Association National High School Ensemble.  He holds degrees from the University of Northern Colorado (MM) and Pacific Lutheran University (BM).

Selected Awards & Grants


  • Downbeat Award, Winner, Best Blues/Pop/Rock Instrumental Group, College Division, 1994 (KU Jazz Fusion Combo).
  • Downbeat Award, Outstanding Performance, Best Jazz Big Band, College Division, 1994 (KU Jazz Ensemble I).


  • Downbeat Award, Outstanding Performance, Best Vocal Jazz Choir, College Division, 1993 (KU Jazz Singers).


  • Downbeat Award, Outstanding Performance, Best Jazz Big Band, College Division, 1992 (KU Jazz Ensemble I).
  • Downbeat Award, Outstanding Performance, Best Vocal Jazz Choir, College Division, 1992 (KU Jazz Singers).


  • Downbeat Award, Best Original Composition, Songs, College Division, 1987.
  • Downbeat Award, Best Blues/Pop/Rock Instrumental Soloist, College Division, 1987.


  • Downbeat Award, Best Original Composition, Songs, College Division, 1986.
  • Downbeat Award, Outstanding Performance, Jazz Instrumental Soloist, College Division, 1986.
  • Elevox Open Jazz Competition, Grand Prize, Best Original Jazz Composition, 1986.


  • Downbeat Award, Best Original Composition, Songs, College Division, 1985.

Selected Publications


UNC Jazz Press—Music for Large Jazz Ensembles:

  • Attack of the Tenor Titans
  • Big All Meets the Barnyard Gals
  • Bossa for Wayne
  • Funk-by-Numbers
  • Hey Mama, Your Samba’s on Fire
  • Just Below the Surface
  • Mendoza Line
  • Out of Town (arrangement)
  • Return of the Mid-Brain Revivalists—commissioned by Univ. of No. Colorado
  • Revenge of the Cow
  • Skydance
  • The Cheese That Time Forgot
  • The Meaning of the Blues (arrangement)
  • There Will Never Be Another You (arrangement)
  • Twice IN, Twice Out (for small jazz ensemble)
  • We Three Kings (arrangement)—commissioned by the KC Dream Factory
  • Widow’s Walk (arrangement)

UNC Jazz Press—Music for Vocal Jazz Ensembles:

  • Back to Life (arrangement)
  • Lone Jack (arrangement)—commissioned by the Univ. of No. Colorado
  • Rhythm-a-Ning (arrangement)
  • Still Warm (arrangement)


  • “Ella Fizgerald’s solo on ‘LemonDrop’: A Vocal Transcription” in Jazz Educator’s Journal, Sept./Oct. 1987.

Selected Recordings


  • KU Jazz Ensemble I, WYRGLY; director/producer.


  • The Kansas City Boulevard Big Band (Sea Breeze); composer/arranger/director/ producer.
  • UNC Jazz Lab Band I, Alive XV (United Musical Artists); “Widow’s Walk,” “Big All Meets the Barnyard Gals,” composer/arranger.
  • The University of Kansas Choirs, Vespers, producer.


  • Northern Arizona University, Year of the Cow (Sea Breeze); “Revenge of the Cow,” composer.


  • KU Jazz Ensemble I/Jazz Singers, GUARABE; director/producer.
  • Spirit of Kansas City Orchestra, SPIRIT; saxophonist.


  • UNC Jazz Lab Band I, Alive X: Off the Cuff; “Return of the Mid-Brain Revivalists,” composer.
  • The Kansas City Boulevard Big Band, Dreams Come True; “We Three Kings,” arranger/producer.
  • California State University-Fullerton Jazz Ensemble, Live at Montreux, “Hey Mama, Your Samba’s on Fire!” composer.


  • Axidentals/Sus 4, Hot 1990; “Lone Jack,” arranger/Yamaha WX-7 soloist.

Selected Professional Experience


  • Director, OBA/IAJE Oklahoma All-State Jazz Ensemble, 1995.
  • Clinician, UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival, CO, 1995, 1993, 1991, 1990.
  • Clinician, Central States Jazz Festival, Kansas State University, 1995, 1994.
  • Director, KMEA Kansas District I Honor Jazz Ensemble, 1994.
  • Director, KMEA Kansas District VI Honor Jazz Ensemble, 1994.
  • Director, MMEA Missouri West-Central District Jazz Ensemble, 1994.
  • Clinician, Wichita Jazz Festival, Wichita State University, 1994.
  • Director, Tri –State Honor Jazz Ensemble, University of Wisconsin, Superior, 1993.
  • Director, NMEA Nebraska All State Jazz Ensemble, 1993.
  • Director, KMEA Kansas District III Honor Jazz Ensemble, 1993.
  • Clinician, University of Oregon Jazz Celebration, Eugene, 1993, 1991, 1990, 1989.
  • Clinician, University of Portland Jazz Festival, Portland, OR, 1993.
  • Director, KMEA Kansas District V Honor Jazz Ensemble, 1992.
  • Clinician/Guest Artist, Hastings College Jazz Festival, BE, 1992.
  • Clinician, Central Missouri State Jazz Festival, Warrensburg, 1992, 1991.
  • Director, Minnesota MMEA All State High School Jazz Band, Minneapolis, 1992, 1991.
  • Clinician/Guest Soloist, Da Capo Big Band, Osthammar/Uppsala, Sweden, 1991.
  • Director, KMEA Kansas District I Honor Jazz Ensemble, 1991.
  • Clinician, St. Cloud State University Jazz Festival, St. Cloud, Minnesota, 1991.
  • Clinician, Guest Artist, Southwester Michigan College Jazz Festival, Dowagiac, 1991.
  • National Endowment for the Arts Tour, UNC Faculty Jazz Quintet, Rocky Mountain Region, 1987.
  • Clinician, Mile High Jazz Festival, Denver, CO, 1987.
  • Clinician, Colorado West Invitational Music Festival, Grand Junction, 1987.

Professional Performances

  • Matt Catingum, Professional Studio Musician.
  • Tom Kubis, Professional Studio Musician.
  • Bobby Shew, Professional Jazz Trumpeter.
  • Diane Schuur, Professional Jazz Vocalist.
  • Mavis Rivers, Professional Jazz Vocalist.
  • Jay Clayton, Professional Jazz Vocalist.
  • Rich Matteson, Professional Jazz Euphoniumist.
  • Bob Bowman, Professional Jazz Bassist.
  • Ed Soph, Professional Jazz Drummer.
  • Kansas City Boulevard Big Band, Kansas City, 1990-Present, numerous concerts/engagements throughout the Midwest, including:
  • 1995 Glenn Miller Festival, Clorinda, IA
  • 1994 Ottawa, KS, Concert Artists Series
  • 1994 Central Missouri State University Concert Series
  • 1993 Kansas City Jazz and Blues Festival
  • KU Jazz Workshop Faculty Combo, 1993-Present.
  • Crosswind, Kansas Area College Faculty Jazz Sextet, 1991-Present.
  • Topeka Jazz Festival All Stars, Topeka Performing Arts Center.


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