Kansas City Area Youth Jazz is a spring and summer only program. It’s like going away in summer to something like the Interlochen Center for the Arts or the Berklee College of Music summer sessions except it’s local, merit based, and free of tuition. We don’t encourage students with known potential conflicts to audition due to the musical rigors and scope of the KCAYJ program. Each awarded Fellowship is vital to each ensemble. KCAYJ Fellows prepare professional level literature for recording, perform in a next generation summer showcase concert festival, some play paid gigs in the community, and Fellows work with a variety of renowned teaching artists as clinicians each season.

Each season Kansas City Area Youth Jazz invites Guest Artists and Educators to come in as clinicians during the course of our preparations for the album recording sessions. The following are among the artists and educators who have agreed to be contracted and scheduled for Kansas City Area Youth Jazz Clinics this season. Please note that this list is updated often.



GREG CARROLL is a seasoned arts executive, performer, and educator. He currently serves as the Director of Development with Youth Symphony of Kansas City and founded and operates Midnight Blue Jazz, LLC – A global jazz & executive consultancy providing creative, scholarly, and strategic services to the non-profit, education, and corporate communities.

Mr. Carroll recently completed an 8-year appointment as Chief Executive Officer of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri where he successfully led fund development efforts generating more than $18M through municipal contract negotiations, corporate and foundation sponsorships, contributions and earned revenues. Under his leadership, the Museum has become a viable destination attraction for the City of Kansas City and has garnered numerous awards and recognitions of distinction including its Blue Room Jazz Club being named as one of the world’s top 100 jazz venues by Downbeat Magazine and its Jazz and Blues Festival being selected as Kansas City’s Visitor’s Choice for Best Music Festival by the Convention and Visitors Association.

Gregory A. Carroll came to the American Jazz Museum after a successful 10-year appointment as Director of Education with the International Association for Jazz Education where he was responsible for directing its education and outreach programs globally.

Prior to that appointment, Mr. Carroll served as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado. Past honors include listing among the 100 Most Influential African Americans in Kansas City; the Presser Scholar for the University of Northern Colorado School of Music; and Colorado Jazz Educator of the Year.

His high school and college groups have earned a total of seven DownBeat Student Music Awards for best and outstanding performances in the jazz category.

As a highly active performing artist, recording artist, education consultant, and clinician, Mr. Carroll can be heard on twenty-one recording projects with the likes of Everett Devan, Angela Hagenbach, Hugh Ragin Collective, Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet, Leslie Drayton, Marc Sabatella, Peter Barbieri, Cat’s Night Out, The James Ward Band, University of Colorado, Greeley Central High School, University of Northern Colorado, and Denver Public Schools.

Selected performances as accompanying musician with celebrated jazz artists including, Clark Terry, George Benson, Dave Grusin, Don Grusin, Nelson Rangell, Chico Freeman, Bobby Shew, Phil Wilson, Don Menza, Diana Reeves, Louie Bellson, Gary Foster, Rob McConnell, Kenny Werner, Kenny Barron, Dr. Billy Taylor, Richie Cole, Red Holloway, Bobby Watson, Steve Houghton, Shelly Berg, John Blake, Stéphane Grappelli, Frank Potenza, Connaitre Miller, Orbert Davis, Horace Young, Dana Landry, Eric Applegate, Reggie Thomas, Willie Hill, Ron McCurdy, Steve Houghton, and others.

Selected Recordings: Greg Carroll, Michael Pagan 2+2 – Kansas City, MO – ARC Label. (2018). For the Love of You – Everette Devan. Kansas City, MO – Independent Label. (2014). Groove Axis – James Ward Band. Kansas City, MO – Independent Label. (2010). Weaver of Dreams – Angela Hagenbach. Kansas City, MO – Amazon, Records. (1999). Shavewo – Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet. Denver, CO – Independent Label, MBJQ. (1998). Everything That Grows – Peter Barbieri.Boulder, CO – Independent Label. (1997). Waking Up the Flatirons – University of Colorado Jazz Ensemble (1997). Feel the Sunshine – Hugh Ragin.Denver, CO – Independent Label. (1996). Bluenote.rec.sampler.com – Marc Sabatella.Fort Collins, CO – Warner Bros. (1996). Estes – Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet.Boulder, CO – Independent Label, MBJQ. (1995). Jazz House Party – Leslie Drayton.Denver, CO – Independent Label. (1994). Back To Saturn – Marc Sabatella. Fort Collins, CO. Black Saint. (1993). Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet. Denver, CO – Independent Label, MBJQ. (1991). Jazz Conceptions. Greeley Central High School Jazz Combo. Greeley, CO. (1988). Changes Over Time – Cat’s Night Out. Broomfield, CO – Independent Label. (1988).

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Mr. Carroll sits on the Kansas City Jazz ALIVE Board of Directors; the Jaris Foundation; and has served on boards of the Kansas State University Board of Trustees; the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association; Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts; and City of Kansas City, MO – Arts Commission. Carroll holds a BME degree from the University of Northern Colorado and an MME from the University of Colorado – Boulder.

The Watson Ensemble is named for jazz great, Bobby Watson

“Bobby meets Basie” (Jazz Artistry Now)



“To whom much is given, much is required!” This quote is one of many that multi-instrumentalist Houston M. Smith tries to live by daily. Mr. Smith, a young entrepreneur, and musician has solidified that living this mantra affords seen and unseen radical blessings of every variety.

At the mere four years old, Mr. Smith displayed a unique passion for the drums and other percussion instruments. He studied privately under percussion great, Mr. Leon A. Brady at Brady Music Studio for 10 years. At the age of 10, Mr. Smith indirectly discovered an unknown passion for a new instrument; switched his musical focus to the alto saxophone. Shortly after, he joined Kansas City Youth Jazz (KCYJ), a program designed to educate youth about ‘jazz’ through experience, exposure, and performance.

Mr. Smith knew relocating, learning, and growing within a new environment would help to best discover his untapped potential. Unwaveringly, he applied to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and was accepted. Now a proud member of the Berklee College of Music, Class of 2019, Mr. Smith earned his Professional Music degree with concentrations in Woodwind Performance and Music Business. 

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Today, he is inspired to create positive change through artistry, development, and creative rights advocacy using his experiences to make an indelible mark in today’s fast-paced music industry.

Mr. Smith says, “Music is a crucial part of me; it is one of the mediums I use to best express myself. Without music, there is no complete Houston. Style or genre aside, music has the power to bring people together; it has a transcending power that can break down the barriers that often impede life’s pathway. My life’s mission is to unite people through the power of my music.”

He adds, “Music is a great gift bestowed to me; I show my thanks through sharing it with others. My hope is to inspire and motivate others to find their purpose, just as I have found mine. Music is life.”

The Crain Ensemble is named for jazz great, Bill Crain

Photo: Some of the 2019 Fellows with the
3 Clinicians from
Berklee College of Music

YOUTH JAZZ is a program that takes advantage of its inherently diverse community of professionals within the greater Kansas City metropolitan area and beyond. We also understand that truly empowering the next generation requires creating an environment that allows all generations to interact with one another in the types of meaningful contexts our program provides during each season. Both applied and educational learning contexts are unique benefits to YOUTH JAZZ. (1) Preparing music to a high level for recording, (2) performing concerts in the community, and (3) serving as peer mentors are among the opportunities that FELLOWS are afforded. (4) Networking among peers and developing relationships with industry mentors are vital skills for building living-wage arts infrastructure and community.

visit individual websites for full profiles

Mr. Leon A. Bradywebsite

Dr. Arthur Whitewebsite

Mr. Joel Gordonwebsite

Ms. Judi Dietzwebsite

Prof. Dino Massawebsite

Photo: Mr. Jansen, Yanagisawa Artist,
and Dr. Mike Pagan, ARC Artist
(2022 Jam Sessions Program clinicians)

Prof. Patrick Corneliuswebsite

Ms. Alyssa Murraywebsite

Prof. Clarence Smithwebsite

Prof. Jason Goudeauwebsite

Mr. B.J. Jansenwebsite

Dr. Dan Thomaswebsite

Photo: Dr. Thomas,
Ottawa University
(2022 season clinic)

Mr. John Gardnerwebsite

Mr. Doug Talleywebsite

Prof. David Valdezwebsite

Mr. Tate Berry website

Dr. Jared Prostwebsite

Prof. Jim Mairwebsite

Ms. Jackie Meyerswebsite

Mr. Luis Portillowebsite

Mr. Houston Smithwebsite

Photo: Mr. Houston Smith,
Berklee College of Music alumnus
(2021 season clinic)

Mr. Morgan Fawwebsite

Dr. Mike Parkinsonwebsite

Ms. Amber Underwoodwebsite

Dr. Luke Johnsonwebsite

Prof. Nate Nallwebsite

Dr. Todd Wilkinsonwebsite

Mr. Carroll, Guest Clinician,
sitting in with a group of FELLOWS
(2022 season community performance

Mr. Jason Batawebsite

Prof. Adam Larsonwebsite

Dr. Ryan Heinlein website

Mr. Pat Adamswebsite

Prof. Erica Lindsaywebsite

Ms. Sumi Tonookawebsite

Prof. Jeff Siegelwebsite

Prof. Michael Jefry Stevenswebsite

Dr. David N. Vancewebsite

Prof. Stanton Kesslerwebsite


VIDEO CLINIC: Prof. Patrick Cornelius gives a clinic to Kansas City Area Youth Jazz Fellows on his composition “Infinite Blue” which was performed and recorded during the 2020 KCAYJ season.
*Get all of his recordings everywhere on Whirlwind Recordings.

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