Jazz Studio

Jazz students playing instruments

The KU Jazz Program

offers performance opportunities in three large jazz ensembles and six jazz combos. Jazz ensembles and combos are open to all students, regardless of major.

KU Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Dan Gailey, was named co-winner as the best graduate college large jazz ensemble in the country in the 44th Annual DownBeat Student Music Awards.

The KU Jazz Program sets the standard for jazz performance in Kansas and throughout the country.

The KU Jazz Program has both performance and academic components, including three jazz ensembles, six jazz combos, and classes in arranging, improvisation, jazz history, jazz theory and jazz pedagogy. KU Jazz groups and individual students have distinguished national credentials, winning 22 Down Beat Student Music Awards since 1992.

With the generous support of the Gregory Harding Memorial Jazz Fund and the Lipscomb Jazz Fund, the Jazz Program also sponsors clinics and master classes during the academic year. Past artists include Michael Brecker, Jerry Bergonzi, Hal Galper, Dr. Billy Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Jim McNeely, Peter Erskine, Maria Schneider, Dave Douglas, John Fedchock, John Abercrombie, Gary Foster, Kenny Werner, Vince Mendoza, Greg Osby, and many others.

The KU School of Music offers two options for a degree in jazz, the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Music. Students in these 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 saxophonist/composer/arranger, is the Director of Jazz and Professor of Music at the University of Kansas, where he directs Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo I and produces the annual KU Jazz Festival.  Dan is the recipient of the 1996 IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, an annual award which identifies an emerging jazz composer from an international field of candidates. Under his direction, the KU Jazz Program has been the recipient of ten DownBeat Student Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I's award as Best College Big Band in the United States or Canada in 1997. Jazz Ensemble I have appeared under his direction at IAJE Conferences in New York City, Atlanta and Boston, the 1992 Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, and the 2008 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Dan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Pacific Lutheran University and a Master of Music degree in Theory/Composition from the University of Northern Colorado. His compositions can be heard on numerous professional and college big band albums and are published exclusively through UNC Jazz Press. What Did You Dream?, his debut CD with the Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra, was released in July 2010 on Origin/OA2 Records and features all original compositions.

Dan has been active as a freelance saxophonist in Seattle, Denver and Kansas City, performing with Kevin Mahogany, Eric Marienthal, Red Richards, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, and many others, and has appeared as a guest artist/clinician throughout the United States and Canada, and in Sweden. He is an original member of the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band, and has been commissioned twice to write new compositions for the band. Dan has directed numerous festival honor groups, including all-state jazz ensembles in California, Colorado, Washington, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Minnesota, and the 1996 NBA National Honors Jazz Ensemble.

Learn more about the Jazz Faculty

Jazz Festival

The KU Jazz Festival features the finest performers, from the traditional to the adventurous, including Dave Brubeck, Michael Brecker, Kenny Garrett, Ingrid Jensen, Clark Terry, Louie Bellson, Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Jim McNeely, Frank Mantooth, Rick Margitza, Bill Watrous, Maria Schneider, Jiggs Whigham, Gary Foster, Dianne Reeves, Kevin Mahogany, Take 6, Bobby McFerrin, David Liebman, Dave Douglas, Eddie Daniels, Yellowjackets, Mike Stern Trio, Joe Lovano Quartet, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Tim Ries, Marian McPartland, Dick Oatts, John Abercrombie, and many others.

During the day, more than 50 college, high school and middle school jazz ensembles and combos from the central United States perform for a panel of distinguished jazz educators and musicians in a non-competitive environment.

Jazz Workshop

The KU Jazz Workshop is a week-long summer program of instruction in all aspects of jazz. The camp is open to high school and college players, and a jazz pedagogy class is available for credit to teachers and college students. For more information, go to Midwestern Music Camp.