Gary Keller may be best known as the Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where he was a full time professor from 1982 until retiring in 2021. A native of Buffalo, New York, his playing embodies the “upstate tenor” tradition in the mold of Don Menza, Bobby Militello, and Larry Covelli, as well as the “East Coast” jazz mainstream. Gary lists a diverse array of players as prime influences: John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Henderson, Sonny Stitt, David Liebman, Michael Brecker, and Gerry Niewood (to name a few).
Gary maintains an active performance schedule. As a long time Miami freelance musician he has recorded with Gloria Estevan, Natalie Cole, Bebu Silvetti, Jen Carlos Canela, José José, and Pimpanella among others. He has played back up for prominent touring artists including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Barry Gibb, Michael Feinstein, Steve Lawrence and Edyie Gormé, Idina Menzel, and scores of others. As a jazz saxophonist Gary cut his teeth with the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1980-81 and has since performed with his own bands and beside many jazz stalwarts, including David Liebman, Jaco Pastorious, The Jaco Pastorious Big Band, John Pizarelli, Maria Schnieder, Jim McNeely, Manny Album, Billy Hart, Kenny Werner, Adam Nussbaum, Chico O’Farrill, Kenny Wheeler, Clare Fischer, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, Shelly Berg, Brian Lynch, Ignacio Berroa, Alan Baylock, the Navy Commodores, the University of Miami Concert Jazz Band, the South Florida Jazz Orchestra, and the American Jazz Philharmonic, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse in France.
Gary has performed in venues on five continents, including the Blue Note Tokyo, Jazz Festivals at North Sea, Montreal, Brosella, Yokahama, Grahamstown SA, and Detroit, the Duc Du Lombards in Paris, the Bimhaus in Amsterdam, Ellington’s in Perth Australia, and the BeBop Club in Buenos Aires.
Gary’s Debut jazz recording as a leader, Blues For an Old New Age, was awarded a near perfect score from Penguin Jazz, terming it “extremely well done” and “a thinker’s delight.” In the classical realm Keller has performed/recorded with the Florida Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Miami City Ballet Orchestra, Naples Symphony, St. Petersburg (Russia) Symphony, Chamber Music Palm Beach, and the FSOM Symphony and Henry Mancini Institute Orchestras.
Gary is the founder and of the Miami Saxophone Quartet, and has co-produced the group’s five recordings on it’s own Fourtitude record label. Gary is a Conn-Selmer endorsed artist and has both written and been the subject of articles in publications including the Saxophone Journal, Woodwind Player, IAJE Journal, and the Saxophone Symposium.