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Kansas City Jazz Academy - Fall 2022 Semester Registration Now Open!

Fall 2022 Dates: Saturday, September 10th - Sunday, December 19th, 2022

*For Middle and High School Students

*Combos and Piano Class meet 1-3PM

*Vocal Jazz meets 11AM - 1PM

*Cost is $60 per semester

The American Jazz Museum is proud to present the Kansas City Jazz Academy. This program provides excellent jazz instruction for middle and high school students interested in improving their skills beyond what they’d normally receive in a traditional public/private school music program. Its instrumental, piano and vocal classes are lead by a faculty of esteemed artist and educators with a focus on style, history, theory, ear training, song forms, repertoire, and musicianship. Additional clinics and masterclasses are presented by national and international jazz musicians and educators.

For $60, students receive 12 hours of class of instruction. These registration costs help sustain the Jazz Academy program and allow us to support our dedicated instructors!

Register For KCJA

We also have a scholarship program, ensuring this high-quality education remains accessible to all.

Fill Out Scholarship Form

To watch our most recent academy showcase featuring all class options, click here:

See below for class offerings, combo specifications, the academy staff, and other helpful information. Do you have specific inquiries or want to learn how to get involved? Email Clarence Smith, Manager of Kansas City Jazz Academy, at

COMBOS: Ensemble selection is based on a placement audition which will match students of similar playing ability. Combos generally consist of several horns and a rhythm section consisting of piano, guitar, band and drums. Other instruments can be considered. Students will study songs from The Great American Songbook. Styles include swing, Latin, blues, waltz, etc.



12th Street Combo

June 4 - July 23, 2022, Saturdays from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Our youngest students with very little to no experience of basic jazz and improvisational concepts. Often includes middle school and younger high school students. Named after the famous street that housed The Reno Club where Count Basie swung his band. Directors are Osmond Fisher and CharCarol Fisher. Registration is $60. Scroll down for placement audition information.


J. Miq Combo

June 4 - July 23, 2022, Saturdays from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Consists of students with at least 2 years of band experience, who possess some understanding of jazz fundamentals and a novice level of improvisation. This group is named in honor of pianist, composer and our former instructor, Joseph Miquelon, who passed away in early 2021. This group is directed by E.T. Thomas. Registration is $60. Scroll down for placement audition information.


Vine Street Combo

Saturdays from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Considered our intermediate combo. Students in this ensemble have a clear understanding of basic jazz styles and a solid grasp of early concepts of improvisation. Vine Street in Kansas City, Missouri runs north and south, intersecting some of the most noteworthy addresses in the 18th and Vine District. This group is directed by Matthew Baldwin. Registration is $60. Scroll down for placement audition information.



18th Street Combo

Saturdays from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Consists of the most advanced students in the program, many of whom earned selection in the Missouri or Kansas All-State Jazz Ensembles. This group also performs more than the others and can be heard at various jazz festivals and venues such as Kansas City, Missouri's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The cross section of 18th & Vine Street mark one of the most famous areas in America's jazz history, continuing to be the heartbeat of Kansas City Missouri's historic 18th & Vine District. The combo is directed by Stan Kessler and Charles Williams. Registration is $60. Scroll down for placement audition information.



Vocal Jazz

Saturdays from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Do you want to be a jazz vocalist? Have you always wanted to learn the basics of songwriting? Are you ready to learn about the rich legacy of jazz, blues and R&B music? If you answered "yes" to these questions, then you are ready for Vocal Jazz classes. This class for middle and high school age students allows young singers an opportunity to hone their vocal ability while learning the specifics of the jazz style. This group is directed by Lisa Henry. Max Capacity: 10 students. Registration is $60.


Piano Class

Saturdays from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Piano class offers experienced and beginner students an opportunity to learn and explore jazz styles, theory, and technique. This class is open to elementary, middle, and high school students. This group is directed by Jacob Herzog. Max Capacity: 6 students. Registration is $60.


Placement Requirements for Combos

Wind Instruments (saxophones, trumpets, trombones)

1. One prepared piece of choice that may or may not include improvisation

2. Sight-reading

3. Improvisation over F or Bb blues changes (optional)

Rhythm Section Instruments (piano, guitar, vibes and bass)

1. One prepared piece of choice that may or may not include improvisation

2. Sight-reading

3. Comping and improvisation over F or Bb blues changes

Drum Set

1. One prepared piece of choice that may or may not include improvisation

2. Sight-reading

3. Trading 4’s

4. Be required to play the following grooves - Swing, Funk/Rock, Latin 


                You may register and pay online, or if you prefer, register in the museum gift store, The Swing Shop, at the museum.

                For more information about the academy, contact Clarence Smith, Manager of Kansas City Jazz Academy, at







Clarence Smith- Manager of KCJA

Clarence Smith is a Kansas City-based professional musician and music educator. He is coordinator/instructor of music at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley campus, with specific expertise in jazz education, percussion, and music appreciation. Smith is a frequent guest director of honors jazz ensembles, and is in demand as a jazz/percussion clinician and adjudicator. He is director of the annual three-day 18th and Vine Student Jazz Festival.

As a drummer, Smith is an active participant in the Kansas City music scene where he can be heard performing in a variety of genres including jazz, classical, musical theatre, and R&B and other pop styles. 



Stan Kessler- Advanced Combo Co-Director

Stan Kessler is a Trumpet/Flugelhorn player, band leader, clinician, and educator in the Kansas City area. He also does extensive writing and arranging for small groups. Stan plays drums and hand percussion. He has maintained adjunct positions at UMKC and Missouri Western State University in jazz trumpet, theory and improvisation, and music business classes. For 7 years, Stan has been a faculty member of Kansas City Youth Jazz, now Kansas City Jazz Academy. He has been teaching jazz improvisation and theory privately for 29 years. 



Charles Williams - Advanced Combo Co-Director

Charles D. Williams is a Kansas City musician, pianist, former trombonist, band leader, private piano instructor, producer, writer, and clinician/educator. Charles is current pianist for the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and has been since its beginning in 2003. As a performer, Charles plays at many local venues with his own trio, and has accompanied many local vocalist. Mr. Williams is very dedicated to supporting the American Jazz Museum & Blue Room, and was recently added to the AJM Board.

Artist Mr. Williams has backed include, Ernie Andrews, Houston Person, Harold Jones, Clark Terry, Randy Brecker, Bobby Watson, Deborah Brown, Ann Hampton Callaway, New York Voices, Wycliffe Gordon, The Four Freshmen, Cannonball & Nat Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Benny Golsen, and many more. Charles has an Associate in Arts Degree (Penn Valley CC, and also studied at the UMKC Conservatory. 



Matt Baldwin- Intermediate Combo Director

Baldwin graduated summa cum laude as a member of the Honors College from the University of Missouri - Kansas City, where he earned his Master's in Jazz Studies and his Bachelor's in Jazz Performance. Throughout the years, he has had the privilege of studying with music mentors Bobby Watson (UMKC Co-Chair of Jazz Studies), Dan Thomas (UMKC Co-Chair of Jazz Studies), Matt Otto (KU Professor of Saxophone), Hugh Jones (High School Band Director in St. Louis), John Brewer (New Orleans Musician/Worship Pastor in Kansas City), and James Ward (Gospel Musician/Worship Pastor in Chattanooga).

As a performer, Baldwin captivates audiences with his lively playing on all saxophones and other woodwind instruments. In addition to leading the Matt Baldwin Saxophone Quartet, Baldwin Soul Septet, and co-leading the Westport Jazz Orchestra, he has performed with numerous Kansas City ensembles including the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, the New Jazz Order Big Band, the 627 Foundation Big Band, Boogaloo 7, the Chris Hazelton Quartet, the Diles Mavis Group, and Julian Vaughn. Besides performing at jazz venues, festivals, and weddings, he has been the Reed 1 player for musical theater shows at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the New Theatre Restaurant, Quality Hill Playhouse, and Musical Theater Heritage. Among others, Baldwin has shared the stage with the New York Voices, the Four Tops, and Michael Feinstein.



Osmond Fisher- Beginning Combo Director

Osmond Fisher has over twenty years of experience teaching and building successful high school band programs. He started his career at John F. Kennedy High School in Cleveland, Ohio from 1996 – 2005, starting a program that grew to over 100 members in just a couple of years. Mr. Fisher relocated to the Kansas City Area and has continued to teach at various schools in the district since 2007. Mr. Fisher has a Bachelor of Music degree from Central State University in Ohio and a Masters of Arts in Music Education from the University of Central Missouri.  He has been acknowledged by the National Association for Music Education (MENC) as one of Kansas City’s most dedicated teachers.



CharCarol Fisher - Academy Instructor

CharCarol is a board certified music therapist working primarily with children and adolescents at Cornerstones of Care. She has a Bachelor of Music degree in saxophone performance from Central State University, and a Master of Arts in Music from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Her clinical work experience includes: Ozanam and Gillis residential treatment facilities; Truman Behavioral Health Center; Operation Breakthrough; Synergy, and several other community organizations that serve youth. CharCarol currently serves as the president of the Mid-Western region of the American Music Therapy Association, a member of the Commission on the Education and Clinical Training of the 21st Century Music Therapist, and serves as a member on the Executive Steering Committee of the Black Music Therapy Network. She is an active presenter at national and regional music therapy conferences, guest lecturer at Universities and researcher.


CharCarol’s career as a music therapist also combines with her love of Jazz music and is a strong advocate for the continued education of Jazz in the Kansas City  community. She brings the unique experience of working as a therapist full-time while combining that with her love for teaching young people music. She co-founded The Young Jazz Masters, an early jazz preparatory program here in KC from 2010 – 2017 with her husband Osmond Fisher, and has volunteered as a in-kind teacher for the Jazz Academy since its inception. CharCarol is excited to continue to work as a member of the Jazz Academy faculty.


Lisa Henry- Director of Vocal Jazz

International jazz vocalist, jazz educator, clinician, program developer and artistic director, Lisa Henry, is a combination of swingin’ cool and down home class. Her professional jazz career began in the nightclubs of Kansas City, MO at age 17. She was mentored by the great Hammond B-3 player, Everette DeVan, and cut her big band “teeth” performing with the Vince Bilardo Big Band and Steve Miller Orchestra. As a jazz educator, Lisa Henry takes the legacy and brilliance of jazz into classrooms and onto college campuses across the globe. Through interactive classroom and assembly programs, vocal clinics, music business workshops and performance adjudications, her teaching reaches students from preschool age to university level students.


E.T. ”Music Man” Thomas

An accomplished musician with 50 years of playing experience, E.T. ”Music Man” Thomas has shared the stage with many of the greatest musical artists of today, including Bryan Alford, Ronald Bruner Jr., Morris Day, Fred Hammond, Enrique Iglesias, Delynia Jannell, Danny LeMelle, Lonnie McFadden, Preston Portley, Victor “XMan” Taylor, Soltri (Roz & Nate McCommon & Marlon Bankston), Michael Speaks, Speech (Arrested Development) Donald Vega (Ron Carter Trio), Sheree Yoder (Youth Music Academy) and many more.