JAZZ

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The KU Jazz Studies Program has both performance and academic components, including three big bands, six combos, and classes in arranging, composition, improvisation, jazz history, jazz theory and jazz pedagogy.  KU Jazz groups and individual students have distinguished national credentials, winning 28 Down Beat Student Music Awards since 1992, including Jazz Ensemble I’s award as Best Graduate College Jazz Ensemble in 2021. With the generous support of the Gregory Harding Memorial Jazz Fund and the Lipscomb Jazz Fund, the Jazz Studies Program also sponsors clinics and master classes during the academic year. Past guest artists include Maria Schneider, Michael Brecker, Sean Jones, Jerry Bergonzi, Hal Galper, Dr. Billy Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Jim McNeely, Anat Cohen, Peter Erskine, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Douglas, John Fedchock, John Abercrombie, Gary Foster, Kenny Werner, Vince Mendoza and many others.

The KU School of Music now offers both a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Jazz Studies concentration.  Students in the degree programs perform in the KU Jazz Ensembles and Jazz Combos, study privately with KU studio faculty and jazz lecturers, and take courses in jazz studies along with other music courses and liberal arts classes. Some scholarships are available; contact Dan Gailey, (785) 864-4389 or dgailey@ku.edu for audition information.

The Director

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, arranging and pedagogy, and produces the annual KU Jazz Festival.  He was named to a coveted Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professorship at KU in 2017.  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 28 DownBeat Student Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I’s 2021 award for Best College Jazz Ensemble in the Graduate Division.

As director of KU Jazz Ensemble I, Dan has led performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Jazz a Vienne Festival in France, the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival in California, the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, 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, several of which are published through iJazzMusic.com. 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, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, 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).  Dan is also on the Board of Directors for Jazz Education Abroad, a non-profit organization that presents educational workshops and festivals throughout the world with emphasis in Asia and the Middle East.

Learn more about the Jazz Faculty


School of Music Calendar
Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA