“KC Cityscape” (Duane Hallock)

Kansas City Area Youth Jazz Ensembles are named for several of our contemporary music icons whose significant contributions to the field of Jazz music have encompassed the technical areas of performance, recording, composition, and music education.

NOTE: Ensemble tribute names are used with expressed permission.


The Brady Ensemble 
(3:00 PM)

Named for the iconic Kansas City music educator, Leon A. Brady.

Directed by David Cunningham

ABOUT MR. BRADY

Leon Brady is an educator and professional percussionist who earned Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Music Education from Tennessee State University. He started his career in Kansas City in 1959, at Northeast Junior High and later moved to Sumner High School where he taught marching band, orchestra and jazz band and earned many awards for excellence. From 1976 to 2000, he owned and operated Brady & Sons Music Company & Studio. In 2000, he founded Kansas City Youth Jazz and was its Musical Director until 2011. Today Leon instructs percussion students, both privately and in groups at the Brady Percussion Academy, where he has developed a unique program for drum lines and drum set students as young as four-years-old. 

Mr. Burnett with Mr. Brady prior to a spring concert
by the original Kansas City Youth Jazz program.

Mr. Brady has also performed with many national and internationally recognized musicians over the years. While serving in the US Air Force, he performed regularly with John Williams and Frank Hitner, and later toured and recorded with Ray Charles. He has also performed with Max Roach, Clark Terry, George Salisbury, Marilyn Maye, Grover Washington, Carmel Jones, George Duke, John Park and many others. Mr. Brady was inducted into the “Jazz Walk of Fame” in Kansas City during a formal ceremony and gala concert in 2019. He was awarded the Woody Herman Award for Excellence in Jazz Education in 2022.

BRADY ENSEMBLE FELLOWS

“Grinter Farms Sunrise” (Duane Hallock)
  • Trumpet – LOGAN SMOOT
  • Alto Saxophone – MATEO NAVARRO
  • Tenor Saxophone – JOSHUA RIVERA
  • Trombone – WILL ELLING
  • Piano – ARI STAGGS
  • Bass – NATHAN CREWS
  • Drums – BLUE NOYES

REHEARSALS: PASEO ACADEMY

FEATURED COMPOSITIONS
“Parallel Lines” by Michael Jefry Stevens, GEMA
“To be selected…” by Erica Lindsay, ASCAP


The Smith Ensemble 
(5:00 PM)

Named for the iconic Kansas City music educator, Clarence Smith.

Directed by Rev. WM Thornton

ABOUT PROFESSOR SMITH

Clarence Smith is a professional percussionist and the coordinator/ instructor of music at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. As an educator with specific expertise in jazz, Smith is a frequent guest director of honors jazz ensembles and is in demand as a jazz/percussion clinician and adjudicator. He is the founder and director of the annual three-day 18th and Vine Jazz Festival for middle school and high school students. Smith was artistic director of Kansas City Youth Jazz; founder and director of Metropolitan Jazz Workshop-Kansas City and was recently selected to lead the American Jazz Museum’s Kansas City Jazz Academy.

Professor Smith shown directing a band of the original Kansas City Youth Jazz program.

He was named “High School Jazz Educator of the Year” by Downbeat Magazine and was the recipient of the first Ahmad Alaadeen Award for Excellence in Jazz Education. Professor Smith was selected to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award by Central Methodist University in 2021. As a drummer for groups that perform in genres including jazz and R&B, Smith is an active participant in the Kansas City music scene. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Central Methodist University (Missouri) and a master’s degree in arts education from Lesley University, Boston.

SMITH ENSEMBLE FELLOWS

“The Scout” (Duane Hallock)
  • Trumpet – LEAH DeGARMO
  • Alto Saxophone – MATEO NAVARRO
  • Tenor Saxophone – JOSHUA RIVERA
  • Trombone – ASA MARTIN
  • Piano – SAM WALKER
  • Bass – ISAAC PIETERS
  • Drums – MAURICE BUTLER

REHEARSALS: PASEO ACADEMY

FEATURED COMPOSITIONS
“Waltz For Mom” by Christopher Burnett, BMI
“Trial and Error” by Morgan Faw, BMI


The Crain Ensemble 
(3:00 PM)

Named for the great musician, recording engineer, and composer, Bill Crain.

Directed by Christopher Burnett

ABOUT MR. CRAIN

Bill R. Crain was the founder/ owner/ operator of BRC Audio Productions and the founder of IAEA, and his distinguished career included recording engineering, music performance, education, and composition. Bill engineered countless music albums and recorded and produced dozens of musical compositions and arrangements for radio, TV, and film. Bill also proved to be an influential and innovative educator, having written and instituted the jazz studies program at UCM as well as IAEA’s Audio Engineering Arts certificate program – both producing highly successful graduates. As a professional woodwind player, Bill performed with famous acts including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Temptations, and Gladys Knight, led his own small Jazz ensembles, and served as musical director of Kansas City’s prestigious Trilogy Big Band. 

Bill Crain Group performing at The American Jazz Museum’s “Blue Room” working jazz club exhibit.

Bill most recently served as the director of the IAEA program, recording engineer and managing member of BRC Audio Productions, Inc., and the Musical Director and Engineer of Kansas City Area Youth Jazz. Bill received his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Masters of Arts in Music Composition, with focuses on theory and conducting, at California State University at Chico; and completed his ABD focusing on commercial woodwinds and conducting, in the Doctor of Arts program at Ball State University. 

“The Folly at Dusk” (Duane Hallock)

CRAIN ENSEMBLE FELLOWS

  • Trumpet – JOSHUA McKEAGUE
  • Alto Saxophone – NICK WALKER
  • Tenor + Soprano Saxophones – CARTER BEUCHER
  • Trombone – ASA MARTIN
  • Piano – PARKER WOOLWORTH
  • Bass – JORDAN FAUGHT
  • Drums – NATHAN OLDHAM

REHEARSALS: BRC AUDIO PRODUCTIONS

FEATURED COMPOSITION
“Better Days Ahead” by Pat Metheny, BMI
“To be selected…” by Composer TBD


The Watson Ensemble
(5:00 PM)

Named for the iconic recording artist, educator, and composer, Bobby Watson.

Directed by Gregory Carroll

ABOUT PROFESSOR WATSON

Robert Michael Watson Jr., known professionally as Bobby Watson, is an American saxophonist, composer, and educator. Watson was born in Lawrence, Kansas, and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. He attended the University of Miami at the same time as Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, and Bruce Hornsby. He graduated in 1975, moved to New York City, and became music director for the Jazz Messengers from 1977 to 1981. After leaving the band, he was productive as a session musician, recording with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Max Roach, Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Lou Rawls, Betty Carter, and Carmen Lundy. He formed the band Bobby Watson & Horizon with bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis, with whom he played throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Watson led a group known as the High Court of Swing (a tribute to the music of Johnny Hodges), the sixteen-piece Tailor-Made Big Band, and is a founding member of the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, an all-horn, four-piece group with alto saxophonist Ed Jackson, tenor saxophonist Rich Rothenberg, and baritone saxophonist Jim Hartog. Watson also composed a song for the soundtrack to the movie A Bronx Tale (1993).

Mr. Burnett with Professor Bobby Watson after his performance with the KCJO.

A resident of New York for most of his professional life, he served as a member of the adjunct faculty and taught saxophone privately at William Paterson University from 1985 to 1986 and the Manhattan School of Music from 1996 to 1999. He is involved with the Thelonious Monk Institute’s annual Jazz in America high school outreach program. In 2000, he was approached to return to his native midwestern surroundings on the Kansas-Missouri border. Watson was selected as the first William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri, Distinguished Professorship in Jazz Studies. As the director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music, while still managing a worldwide performing schedule, Watson’s ensembles at UMKC recorded critically acclaimed albums and received several awards.

WATSON ENSEMBLE FELLOWS

“Downtown Kansas City” (Duane Hallock)
  • Trumpet – LOGAN SMOOT
  • Alto Saxophone – BRADY JOHNSTONE
  • Tenor Saxophone – JACKSON HARRISON
  • Trombone – HENRY FEARS
  • Piano – MILES CLEMONS
  • Bass – ARI STAGGS
  • Drums – KENNY WATSON

REHEARSALS: BRC AUDIO PRODUCTIONS

FEATURED COMPOSITIONS
“E.T.A.” by Bobby Watson, BMI
“Song for My Children” by Abdu Salim, SACEM


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