Youth Jazz Fellows … play original compositions and iconic selections from the jazz music canon, get paid for live concerts, and release professional studio recordings each season. Get involved!

Kansas City Area Youth Jazz

2021 Newsletters

1 – In addition to the music clinics before Youth Jazz rehearsals we will produce a live interactive series of free online jazz improvisation learning sessions via Zoom. 


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Best reasonings I have been able to deduce are as an improviser we apply compositional music theory in real time on our instruments in collaboration with the other musicians playing at the time. Similar to, but not exactly like, what I have read Bach and his colleagues did in live performances where figured bass was the only notation. 

As a composer you’re writing out your own improvisation for each part of the score and literally dictating exactly what each musician is to play to the Nth degree. Of course that process will take a significant amount of time. Especially before notation software and computer programs. 

Want to straighten out your improvisation solos and learn to create solos beyond memorized patterns and hard-wired licks?

Burnett School of Music

I contend and regularly prove in jazz clinics that every competent musician can naturally improvise. You just don’t think the same while improving as you do when you’re taking a theory test in class. Same information, different process. That’s the issue. Some people get straight A grades in classroom music theory courses and can’t improvise because of the way it’s inherently taught to them, not because they can’t improvise. Hope to see you soon, Mr. B🎷

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*Photo: My brother’s grandson noticed we had the same shoes!

2 – Youth Jazz is preparing for it’s third season after two successful previous years producing a unique young artists program in association with a broad spectrum of arts businesses, internationally known artists, composers, and our program sponsors.


The 2021 Kansas City Area Youth Jazz season welcomes two new ensembles that will include both high school and college jazz artists, a new Associate Musical Director to our program, and in addition to our founding relationship with BRC Audio Productions in Kansas City, Kansas we’ve officially engaged a wonderful new partnership with Kansas City Public School’s Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in Missouri.


With all of the moving parts this season, we decided to keep the composing residencies among our staff this year. I will be composing primarily for “The Bill Crain Ensemble” which I’m going to direct and both Rev. WM Thornton and Mr. David Cunningham will be writing for “The Leon Brady Ensemble” that they will be leading.

COMPOSER’S NOTES – Bill Crain Ensemble compositions I am sketching out:


1 Defranzo Loop (The Return): A multi-movement jazz work that goes through various types of musical situations. From “Third Stream” through-composed segments to straight ahead swing and jazz blues. Segments of this work are: I. Atlantic Crossings II. East Coast Blues III. Navy Lodge IV. The Return with improvised solo space for piano, trombone, tenor, alto, bass, and drums.

Defranzo Loop (THE RETURN) By Christopher Burnett (BMI)

2 Saudade (Micah’s Tune): A medium-tempo modern jazz samba written for our son, Micah and to be orchestrated for the 2021 Kansas City Area Youth Jazz Bill Crain Ensemble. Solo space for trombone, piano, tenor, and drum set. Sketched melody and changes but only finished in 2021.

SAUDADE (MICAH’S TUNE) By Christopher Burnett (BMI)

3 Analog Networking: Up-tempo modern jazz with an interesting yet approachable modal chord progression and thoughtfully unique eighth note driven melody that succinctly states the theme to make way for the improvisational work. Solos for those who can play over the changes (piano, bass, alto, tenor, and trombone – drums). Tested with my CbQ but never performed or recorded.

ANALOG NETWORKING By Christopher Burnett (BMI)

4 Avery and Hayden: A contemporary straight eighth note composition with nice melody and harmonies. Solo space for trombone, tenor and piano. Inspired by our youngest grandchildren at pre-school and grade school age. It’s a brand new work from my 2021 composer’s notebook.

We also plan to utilize standard jazz selections if needed for any concerts or gigs that potentially could come up if we have our original music for the album together near the end of the season. Thanks, Mr. B🎷

3 – Woo-Hoo! We got a sponsor for the ARC student jazz jam sessions program that is graciously hosted by James Diggs and Georgette Diggs at their 424 Lounge here in Leavenworth. Huge thanks to Frontier Community Credit Union for sponsoring the program.

Here’s a poster that we’d like to pass along to students, the schools, etc. and would appreciate help getting the word out. We plan to resume in June. Come sit in and play, it’s free and we’ll be bringing in some of the top pros to jam with and learn from too. Thanks, Mr. B🎷


www.ArthurWhiteDMA.comDr. Arthur White has returned as a “Composer-In-Residence” for the 2021 Kansas City Area Youth Jazz Season. He will contribute compositions and arrangements for both The Leon Brady Ensemble and The Bill Crain Ensemble along with the music written by each of those ensemble directors. He also served as the composer for the 2019 Kansas City Area Youth Jazz season.

Dr. Arthur White, DMA – 2021 KCAYJ Composer-In-Residence

Dr. Arthur White, an ANDREAS EASTMAN and JODYJAZZ Saxophone Artist, is a nationally recognized composer, arranger, educator, and touring saxophonist. All About Jazz calls White’s ensembles “solidly impressive”, while referring to his “virile tenor solos”, “scorching alto broadsides”, and his ability to “vacate(s) the podium to fashion ‘splendid’ tenor solos…”.  The notable jazz journalist Scott Yanow calls White and his band, MERGE, “world-class players”. His debut album, when you find it…, recorded with MERGE, was released in 2020 on the Artists Recording Collective label to critical acclaim.

Never one to shy away from new adventures, and with an undying passion for jazz education running through his veins, Dr. White started a new adventure in September 2019, when he became the director of jazz studies at California Polytechnic State University. He  directs all of Cal Poly’s instrumental jazz ensembles (two big bands and several combos), and the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, which he founded in 2019. In addition, he teaches the core jazz curriculum, which includes improvisation, history, theory, arranging, and composition.

A proud Kansas native, Dr. White received the Bachelor of Arts in Music from Emporia (KS) State University, the Master of Music in Jazz Pedagogy from West Virginia University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Saxophone Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He resides in San Luis Obispo, CA with his beautiful family: wife Megan, son Sam, and dogs Lily and Oakley.


FREE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC CLINICS this season are also open to all students who attend Kansas City Public Schools. The one-hour sessions cover several important practical factors.

A Kansas City Public Schools Community Partnership Project with Burnett Music Foundation.




NOTES: The great drummer, jazz clinician, and good friend of our program, Professor Clarence Smith of the Kansas City Jazz Academy came in to clinic the first hour of the BILL CRAIN ENSEMBLE rehearsal.