Gary W. Keller

Professor Prof. Practice

(305) 284-6292
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About Me


“A career in music can be extraordinarily rewarding, bringing opportunities most people only dream of. However, it must be earned by hard work and embraced with humility and generosity. At Frost, I delight in preparing my students for that journey, and in watching their success unfold.”


Gary Keller is Professor of Practice, specializing in jazz studies and all aspects of saxophone performance, at the FROST SCHOOL OF MUSIC. He received his bachelor’s degree in music education from New York State University at Fredonia and his master’s degree in jazz performance from the FROST SCHOOL OF MUSIC in 1980.

Immediately after graduation, Professor Keller took the third tenor chair with the Woody Herman Orchestra -- following in the footsteps of legends Sal Nistico and Joe Lovano -- before returning to Miami where he became Professor of Saxophone in 1982. He has since launched hundreds of saxophonists into professional careers throughout the music industry -- as internationally recognized solo artists, sidemen, composers, producers, and educators.

Professor Keller became a fixture on the South Florida music scene virtually from the day of his arrival in 1978, logging in thousands of performances on saxophones and woodwinds, including backing up major artists on stage and in studio recordings. He has also worked with classical and pit orchestras, and toured with a number of Miami-based groups, among them, the Jaco Pastorius Big Band. As a soloist, Professor Keller has made multiple appearances with both the FROST Symphony and Henry Mancini Orchestras, appearing at local, national, and international jazz clubs and festivals. In 2001 he founded the acclaimed Miami Saxophone Quartet, which created a signature sound based on the trademark precision of renowned Miami horn sections.

Professor Keller’s debut solo CD, Blues for an Old New Age, received a near perfect score from Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, which termed it “a thinker’s delight” and “extremely well done. Other publications include The Jazz Chord/Scale Handbook, which is in use in universities worldwide, and various articles and interviews in The Saxophone Journal, Jazz Educator’s Journal, Woodwind Player, and the NASA Saxophone Symposium

Honors & Acknowledgements

Professional Experience

Career Highlights

  • Woody Herman “Thundering Herd” Orchestra 1980-81
  • Stage appearances/tours/recordings with Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Gloria Estevan, Steve Lawrence, Michael Feinstein, Idina Menzel, etc.
  • Multiple international tours and Jazz performances with Maria Schneider, David Liebman, Kenny Wheeler, James Moody, Peter Erskine, Victor Wooten, Richard Bona, Rick Margitza, and numerous other prominent jazz musicians
  • Member of the Jaco Pastorius Big Band
  • Performances at major jazz clubs, festivals and symposiums
  • Residencies at colleges throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia, South America, and Africa
  • Former students have toured and recorded with a broad array of artists, including Jeff “Tain” Waits, Gregory Porter, Paul Simon, Philip Glass, the Rolling Stones, Gloria Estevan, Julio Iglesias, Kenny Burrell, Tower of Power, Joey DeFrancesco, The Airmen of Note, the Army Blues, the Navy Commodores, Ray Charles, the Mingus Big Band, and scores of others.
  • Former saxophone students with successful solo careers include Troy Roberts, Tivon Pennicott, Andy Snitzer, Ed Calle, Steve Grove (“Euge Groove”), Brandon Wright, Matt Vashlishan, Doug Moffet, Dan Kinzelman, etc. 

Honors and Awards

  • 2013 Phillip Frost Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship, University of Miami
  • Buffalo Music Hall of Fame member
  • National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts Teacher Recognition Award
  • Over one dozen private saxophone students have won Downbeat Magazine Performance Awards.
  • Two private students selected as finalists in Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition
  • 26 former saxophone students occupy full time teaching positions in colleges worldwide.


  • Solo CD Blues for an Old New Age, featuring the quartet of Kenny Werner, Drew Gress, and Billy Hart
  • Three CDs as a member of the Jaco Pastorius Big Band
  • Five CDs with the Miami Saxophone Quartet
  • Two CDs with the South Florida Jazz Orchestra
  • Recordings with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and the New World Symphony 


  • The Jazz Chord/Scale Handbook, in use in universities worldwide
  • Various articles and interviews in The Saxophone Journal, Jazz Educator’s Journal, Woodwind Player, and the NASA Saxophone Symposium