The UMKC Conservatory and Kansas City boast a vibrant jazz and artistic community, the perfect setting to perfect your sound.
Jazz studies program

UMKC's Jazz Studies Program is known for helping musicians develop their individual sounds and creating an encouraging environment. We believe each artist's journey is unique, and we’re excited to help you find and train your creative voice.

The UMKC Conservatory's undergraduate Jazz Studies degree rivals any in the nation. Our graduate degree is very flexible and enables you to have a significant voice in the fine-tuning of your skills. UMKC has one of the most significant music library holdings in the world, including the Marr Sound Archive.

With the combination of classroom education, access to a printed and audio history of jazz and the active jazz community in Kansas City, we think you’ll agree that UMKC is the perfect place to hone your skills and develop as a jazz artist.

UMKC's Jazz Studies students have won awards at The University of North Texas, University of Notre Dame, Elmhurst College and UNC-Greeley. Our students have toured Japan and Europe, been featured at the JEN conference and performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Alumni and students are bandleaders, chart-making recording artists, Betty Carter Fellows, graduate assistants, educators and have won awards at most of the international jazz solo competitions. Our Concert Jazz Band made it to number four on the national airplay charts with The Gates BBQ Suite.

Jazz friends

In addition to boasting an encouraging environment, Jazz Studies students also have the resources of Jazz Friends. Founded in 2000, Jazz Friends aims to encourage the creative artistry and talent of UMKC Conservatory students and faculty, heighten the eminence of the Conservatory's Jazz Studies Program and celebrate the legacy of Kansas City jazz. Jazz Friends has provided scholarships, financial support for travel to national and international competitions, unique orchestrations for the performing ensembles and funding for guest artists.

Jazz Camp

Jazz Friends

Past guest clinicians/artists/performers include some of the following:

Christian McBride, Stefon Harris, Benny Golson, Terrel Stafford, Sean Jones, Richard Johnson, Essiet Essiet, Mulgrew Miller, Edward Simon, Dave Douglas, Marcus Strickland, Joe Chambers, Roy Hargrove, Gerald Wilson, Delfeayo Marsalis, Ralph Peterson, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Donal Fox, Paquito D'Rivera, Robin Eubanks, Nicholas Payton, ,Jack Walrath, Elliot Mason, Brad Mason, Curtis Lundy, Ray Mantilla, John Hicks, Mickey Bass, Javon Jackson, Bill Saxton, Slide Hampton, Aaron Parks, Curtis Fuller, Brian Lynch, Conrad Herwig, Brian Auger, Rob Scheps, Jimmy Owens, Winard Harper, Jaleel Shaw, Kenny Drew Jr., Kevin Mahogany, Michael Carvin, Logan Richardson, Greg Abate, Ben Allison and Howard Johnson.


Jazz faculty 

  • Carl Allen, William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri Endowed Professor of Jazz Studies
  • Marcus Lewis, Assistant Teaching Professor of Jazz Studies
  • Eric Hitt, Visiting Assistant Professor of String Bass

Adjunct faculty

 Degree programs offered

Bachelor of Music: Jazz Studies

Master of Arts: Music