We conduct rigorous auditions for Fellowships in February and announce the selections in March each year. Rehearsals are on Sunday evenings during our season of April, May, June, and July with no rehearsals on Labor Day or Fourth of July weekends. Youth Jazz Fellows perform a Showcase Concert in July and also perform paid performances in the greater KC area community. Commitment to attend all rehearsals and performances is required. The season culminates in recording an album in a professional recording studio that’s released worldwide on a professional record label.
Auditions for 2024 Fellowships are February 18, 2024 beginning at 3:00 pm in 15 minute increments. Call our office at (913) 250-5141 and leave a message with: (1) your name and instrument, (2) your mobile phone number, and (3) your preferred time.
Kansas City Area Youth Jazz Ensembles are named for several of our contemporary music icons whose significant and enduring contributions to the field of Jazz music have encompassed the artistic and technical areas of performance, recording, composition, and music education.
THE 2024 FELLOWSHIP
NOTE: Ensemble tribute names are used with expressed permission.
THE ALAADEEN ENSEMBLE
Named for the iconic Kansas City saxophone artist, composer, and music educator, Ahmad S. Alaadeen
Born [né Sonny/Richard White]* in Kansas City, on July 24, 1934, Alaadeen grew up around music. “I listened to all types of styles. I went to Philharmonic concerts, loved Lester Young, liked T-Bone Walker and was crazy about Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson.” He began on the saxophone when he was in sixth grade, in time also mastering flute, clarinet and oboe. He studied at R.T. Coles High School under the tutelage of Leo H. Davis, a well-respected music instructor reported to have taught Charlie Parker. “The way he taught improvisation was to sing the melody in my ear when I soloed so I’d always keep the melody in mind.” Alaadeen debuted as a professional with Davis’ concert band playing e-flat horn when he was 14 and his first major job was playing baritone sax with the great pianist-band leader Jay McShann. In later years he would rejoin McShann on tenor.
Alaadeen studied at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music (studying flute since the educators did not think of the saxophone as a legitimate instrument), St. Mary’s University (where he studied oboe) and DePaul University. He served in the military during 1957-59, being the Jazz saxophonist and principal oboist with the 4th Army Band. After his discharge, Alaadeen spent time in Chicago, playing in a program led by pianist-composer Richard Abrams that was the beginning of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians); other members included trumpeter Lester Bowie and bassist Malachi Favors. He picked up a lot of experience living and playing in such cities as New York, Chicago, Denver, Houston, San Antonio and SI. Louis. In addition to McShann, he had opportunities to work in a countless number of settings including stints with Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, The Glen Miller ghost band under the direction of Tex Beneke, Della Reese, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, T -Bone Walker, Claude “Fiddler” Williams and with R&B stars, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Four Tops and Sam Cooke.
After returning to Kansas City, Alaadeen not only played music locally but also became a very significant educator, teaching Jazz in both the school system and privately. “I always tell my students that playing Jazz is a hard life, that it is important to always study and be current, and that they should not be afraid to make mistakes.” His skills as a teacher were recognized when he was inducted into the R.T. Coles Lincoln High School “Outstanding Alumni Hall Of Fame.” During 1990-91, he won songwriting competitions sponsored by Billboard for his songs Big Six, Wayne Himself and Blues For R.C. Along the way he recorded with Jay McShann, Crown Prince Waterford, the City Light Orchestra and countless others. He led the Deans of Swing in the 1990s, and the ensemble was picked in 1996 as Musician Magazine’s Best Unsigned Band.
To document his music, Alaadeen started the ASR label. Each of his CDs, which include Blues For RC and Josephine Too, Time Through The Ages, New Africa Suite and And The Beauty Of It All, features him with some of Kansas City’s top young Jazz players. He also prepared many of his original compositions for performance by large Jazz ensemble through his publishing company, Fandeen Publishing Company, Inc. In 2009, Alaadeen authored The Rest of the Story: Jazz Improvization and History, a method manual in which he shares the secrets of how he learned the music as handed down to him by the masters.
Alaadeen was recognized in his community and state as a master of the distinctive sound known as Kansas City Jazz with his receipt of numerous awards including Kansas City’s Jazz Heritage Award, the Missouri Humanities Council’s Community Heritage Award, the Missouri Arts Award and Kansas City’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000, Congresswoman Karen McCarthy recognized Alaadeen in the United States House of Representatives for the contributions he has made to his community’s understanding of its heritage; and in 2002, Missouri Governor Bob Holden honored Alaadeen at an official dinner at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City. In an effort to acknowledge Alaadeen for making a significant impact in the history, development and performance of Jazz, and to applaud Alaadeen for his outstanding achievements in the art form of Jazz, Alaadeen was issued a Proclamation from the Office of the Governor, State of Missouri. The American Jazz Museum honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Cancer claimed Ahmad Alaadeen’s life on August 15, 2010, at the age of 76.
Source: Alaadeen, Ahmad. “Biography of Ahmad Alaadeen.” Dysfunctional: Life Journeys of a Second Generation Jazz Musician. Overland Park, KS: Fandeen Publishing Company, 2011.
THE BRADY ENSEMBLE (VOCAL)
Named for the iconic Kansas City percussionist, entrepreneur, and music educator, Leon A. Brady
* Weekly rehearsals at The Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts
ABOUT MR. BRADY
Leon Brady is an educator and professional percussionist who earned both his Bachelor and Master of Music Education degrees 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. 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.
THE CRAIN ENSEMBLE
Named for the iconic Kansas City woodwind artist, recording engineer, composer, and music educator, Bill R. 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 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 WATSON ENSEMBLE
Named for the iconic Kansas City saxophone artist, composer, and music educator, Bobby 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).
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.