Born in Iowa, grown in Missouri, and sprouting throughout the Midwest, Joel Gordon is a saxophonist and educator on a journey to cultivate relationship with music and people. As a musician and teacher, Joel strives to balance life on “both sides of the fence,” working in concert classical and jazz contemporary styles.


Joel became a bandleader and performing musician at the age of nineteen. With a group of high school and college friends from Kansas City, Joel formed the Trouble Clefs: a big band that convened during summer and winter school breaks. Over the course of three years and twenty-five concerts, the group evolved from entertaining at a backyard pool party to performing at the Kauffman Center in Kansas City, MO. During their run, more than fifty different musicians performed with the Trouble Clefs. Experiencing the connections and community with band members and audiences, Joel was inspired to become a musician and teacher.


As a classical saxophonist, Joel regularly records and tours with {trés}, a trio consisting of two saxophones and piano. The group is diligent in bringing classical and cultural works into modern saxophone repertoire. Most recently, {trés} released “Centennial” on Navona Records label in culmination of the 100 years of women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment. With the trio, Joel performed at the 40th Annual International Saxophone Symposium in Washington D.C. and the inaugural American Single Reed Summit. He also regularly performs with the Cameron Municipal Band. Joel studied classical saxophone primarily with Randall Smith and José Zayas Cabán; additional instructors include Tim Timmons and Neil Ostercamp. As well, Joel was selected and performed in masterclasses with Dr. Kenneth Tse and SFC Matthew J. Carmichael (Pershing’s Own).


As a jazz musician, Joel recorded and released a full-length album with Kansas City-based jazz quintet, the Matt Cook Collective entitled “Along Those Lines.” As a part of the Collective, Joel has traveled throughout the Midwest not only playing at regional venues, but also putting on educational clinics for hundreds of public school students. As well, Joel leads his own “chordless” quartet, the Happy Habitat. The group has featured some of the top young saxophonists in the country including Artie Black, Stephen Martin, and Adam Larson. He has also performed with with the Patrick Lentz Band, KC FLO, Vine Street Rumble, and the St. Joe Big Band. Joel studied jazz improvisation with Tim AuBuchon and Matt Otto; additional instructors include Bob Long and Neil Ostercamp. As well, Joel was admitted and attend the week-long residential David Liebman Saxophone Masterclass.


Joel is passionate about advancing music through education. As a private studio instructor, Joel’s saxophone students have earned accolades both in the Missouri All-State Concert Band and the Missouri All-State Jazz Ensemble. His private students have also been accepted into and attended nationally-distinguished opportunities including the NAfME All-National Honor Concert Band, Interlochen Saxophone Institute, Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, and NYU’s Broadway Winds Summer Program. As well, Joel continues to develop his teaching curriculum resource, The (Young) Adventure’s Guide to Jazz Improvisation, in use with his students.

img_20230108_185053235-copyAs a teacher and arts administrator, Joel has worked to establish educational programs that provide opportunities for students to learn and make new connections. Most recently, Joel has formed and directed the Northland Symphony Youth Saxophone Ensemble. NYSE draws students from all over the KC Metro, both from Missouri and Kansas and provides the opportunity for high school saxophonists to develop their skills. As a part of the Burnett Music Foundation Advisory Council, Joel helped establish the ARC Student Jazz Jam Session and Kansas City Area Youth Jazz. In addition, Joel has been an instructor at programs at the American Jazz Museum including the Charlie Parker Celebration Bebop Bootcamp and Kansas City Jazz Academy. As a public school teacher, Joel served as the Director of Bands at Platte City Middle School and an assisting teacher with marching bands, concert ensembles, and jazz groups at Platte County High School for three years. He also worked as a teaching assistant at Kirksville High School with the band program for two years. Joel has had the opportunity to judge auditions at the local, district, and state level and serve as a clinician in various classroom and presentation settings including recently the 2022 International Conference for Saxophone Pedagogy and Performance.


Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music (2015) and a Master of Arts in Education of Music (2016) from Truman State University. Professional affiliations have included the Missouri Association for Jazz Education, Missouri State Teachers Association, Missouri Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Education, National Eagle Scout Association, Jazz Education Network, Burnett Music Foundation Advisory Council, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Mu Alpha.

Currently, Joel lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wonderful wife Megan and delightful daughters Ellie and Shiloh. He works for the Federal Reserve Banking System of Kansas City as a data analyst and is pursuing an MBA in Project Management from Park University. 

soundcloud-logo-soundcloud-icon-transparent-png-1 Joel Gordon – Audio Samples

icons8-pdf-48Joel Gordon – Bio (long, above)

icons8-pdf-48Joel Gordon – Bio (short, 150 words)