Clay Jenkins

Professor of Jazz Studies & Contemporary Media

ECMS Collegiate Instructor in Trumpet




Clay Jenkins’ career as a jazz artist has covered a wide range of musical experiences and responsibilities, bringing him to the forefront of the jazz performing and teaching arenas.

Clay’s experience as a performer began at an early age, playing and recording with the Stan Kenton Orchestra.  In 1978 Clay moved to Los Angeles, where he was in demand as a performer and studio recording musician, and toured with the big bands of Buddy Rich and the Count Basie Orchestra.

Since moving to Rochester, New York in 2000 to join the Eastman faculty, Clay has maintained a busy performing, recording, and teaching schedule. He has remained active throughout the United States and abroad. Clay continues to perform and record with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, of which he is a charter member and whose trumpet section also included the great Eugene “Snooky” Young (1919-2011).

Clay’s close friendship with Snooky Young led to three guest appearances at Eastman by the great trumpet player, and Clay recently established the “Snooky Young Endowed Scholarship” at Eastman to assist under-represented minority students. Clay is currently writing a biography of Snooky Young’s life.

Clay has performed on over one hundred recordings.  He has released seven solo recordings under his name, and as a co-leader he has recorded with Gene Bertoncini, Kim Richmond, and Don Aliquo. Additionally, Clay has also recorded with Joe LaBarbera’s Quintet, The Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Harold Danko, Rufus Reid, Alan Ferber, and Charles Pillow.  Clay also records with his Eastman colleagues Jeff Campbell and Rich Thompson as “Trio East.” Clay’s latest recording project, soon to be released, included guitarists Gene Bertoncini and Larry Koonse, drummers Joe La Barbera and Jeff Hamilton, and bassist John Clayton. 

Clay attended North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in music theory. He received his master’s degree in jazz studies from the University of Southern California.

Clay plays Edwards Trumpets and is a performing artist for The Edwards Instrument Company.

Works / Publications


Clay Jenkins:
Matters of Time, Jazz Compass
Azure Eyes, Jazz Compass
Yellow Flowers After, Chase Music
Give & Gather, Kazu Unity Records
Rings, K2B2-2669

Kim Richmond/Clay Jenkins:
Crossweave, Origin Records
Range, Nine Winds: 172
Look at the Time, Chase Music 8055

Joe LaBarbera Quintet:
Live, Jazz Compass

Stan Kenton:
Artistry in Symphonic Jazz, Rendezvous RED1111
A Time for Love: The Final Chapter, Tantara TCD1112
The Lost Concert, Vols. I & II, Gem Heritage Collection

Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra:
The Groove Shop, Capri 74021-2
Heart and Soul, Capri 74028-2
Absolutely, Lake Street Records
Explosive!, Qwest/Warner Records
Shout It Out, Fables Records

Bill Perkins:
Our Man Woody, Jazz Man 110
Frame of Mind, Interplay IP 8612
Swing Spring, Candid

Pat Coil with Lyle Mays:
Schemes & Dreams, Sheffield Lab 10042-2-F

Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra:
Passages, Sea Breeze 2043
Ballads, Chase Music
Refractions, Origin 82413, 2003

Miki Coltrane:
I Think of You, Jowco l Music

Joey Sellers:
Something for Nothing, Nine Winds 13
Pastels, Ashes, Nine Winds 153

Kurt Elling
Flirting with Twilight, Blue Note Records

Steve Houghton
Manne That’s Gershwin, TNC

Steve Houghton Quintet
Live at the Top of the Senator, TNC

Mark Masters Orchestra:
Priestess (with Billy Harper), Capri 74031-2

Jim Widner Big Band:
Yesterday and Today, Chase Music 8045
Body & Soul, Chase Music 8048
Live, Chase Music 8058

Jude Swift:
Common Ground, Nova 9139-2

Christoph Luty:
It’s Good to Be Seen, Upright Records

Natalie Cole:
Ask a Woman Who Knows, Impulse Records

Carla Helmbrecht:
One for My Baby, Streetsweeper Music CAH-1

Ernestine Anderson:
Boogie Down, Concord Jazz 4407
(with Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra)

Julie Kelly:
Stories to Tell, Chase Music 8039

Suzanne Dean:
Dreams Come True, Nova 8808-1
I Wonder, Nova 9028-2

Cathy Segal-Garcia:
Point of View, LSG 001

Circle of Power:
Daddy, Unity Records

Bill Cunliffe:
Porcupine, Sonic Atmosphere 80040
Look But Don’t Touch, Unity Records
A Rare Connection, Discovery 77007
Live at Rocco
Gary Hobbs Sextet:
Night Flight to Valhalla, Chase Music 8043

Gordon Goodwin Jazz Orchestra:
Close to the Edge, Nova 8812-4

Paolo Nonnis:
Step on the Gas, USA Records CD-755

Dr. John (with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra):
Afterglow, G.R.P.

Keiko Matsui:
No Borders, MCA Records
Night Works, MCA Records
Cherry Blossom, White Cat Records

Akira Jimbo:
Slow Boat, Optimism
Penguin Parasol, Tokuma
Lime Pie, Alta Records
Panama Man, Unity

Les Hooper Big Band:
Anything Goes, [e]ITI Records D2-72970

Harry James Band:
Still Harry After All These Years, Sheffield Lab 11


Clay Jenkins:
Matters of Time (3 selections), Jazz Compass
Azure Eyes (7 selections), Jazz Compass
Yellow Flowers After, Chase
Give & Gather (5 selections), Kazu Unity Records (1992 release)
Rings (5 selections), K2B2-2669

Kim Richmond/Clay Jenkins:
Crossweave, Origin Records
Range (2 selections), Nine Wind: 172
Look at the Time (3 selections), Chase Music 8055

Bill Perkins:
Frame of Mind (1 selection), Interplay IP 8612

Gary Hobbs Sextet:
Night Flight to Valhalla.(1 selection), Chase Music 8043

The Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra:
Shout It Out (1 selection), Fable Music

Steve Houghton Quintet
Live at the Top of the Senator (1 selection), TNC