Kurt Wheeler is an in-demand saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, educator, composer, and photographer in the Kansas City area. His unique vision combines music, education, photography, and natural beauty through composition, performance, and public outreach. Recently, Kurt completed an artist-in-residency program with the National Park Service at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah during which he combined photography and composition to capture his experience. This project has led to several public performances and photography exhibits, as well as the release of "The Capitol Reef Quintet", an album of instrumental jazz music dedicated to the residency which is now available on CD and all popular streaming services
Shortly after moving to the KC metro, Kurt established himself as a prominent musical force, and has since played renowned Kansas City venues including the Green Lady Lounge, Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum, Kauffman Center, Arrowhead Stadium, Folly Theater, Union Station, and Mutual Musicians Foundation. Kurt has also become a prominent educator, teaching private lessons to aspiring young musicians and giving clinics, sectionals, and masterclasses across the metro area. He is also an adjunct professor of Jazz at The University of Missouri-Kansas City where he teaches jazz improvisation and jazz combos, as well as a public school teacher of elementary music.
Kurt was born and raised in Warminster PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. After high school, Kurt moved to Fairfax, VA to pursue a dual major in Music Education and Jazz Studies at George Mason University. There, he studied with Rick Parrell, Tyler Kuebler, Jim Carroll, Jenny Lapple, and Alan Baylock, among others. He also performed alongside jazz legends including Wycliffe Gordon, Wynton Marsalis, and Eric Alexander. Kurt played at local and national festivals including Essentially Ellington, International Saxophone Symposium, Virginia Music Educators Association, National Jazz Workshop, and Jazz Education Network, where he premiered two compositions for saxophone quartet. In 2011 Kurt traveled to the People’s Republic of China with the GMU Jazz Ensemble. Under the direction of Prof. Jim Carroll, he participated in a weekly radio concert at the Shanghai Concert Hall with a band comprised of Chinese and American students to an estimated audience of 3-5 million radio listeners. After moving to Kansas City, Kurt also earned his master's degree in Jazz from UMKC.
Moving forward, Kurt is expanding his influence in the Kansas City area and elsewhere, and reaching more and more students through educational outreach. He is also branching out into the field of photography, and looking to combine his music and photography to create new creative projects. He hopes to continue combining his love of music, nature, and photography through more residencies with the NPS and other travels and adventures.