Kirk Garrison is an active performer, educator and composer in the Chicago area. A veteran of the Chicago jazz scene, Kirk attended Mankato State University in his home state of Minnesota from 1978-1982 before honing his skills in the United States Air Force Band. After leaving the Air Force in 1992, he completed his masters degree in Jazz Studies at DePaul University where he is now a member of the jazz faculty. He is also on faculty at Concordia University, Chicago.
Kirk has appeared with Clay Aiken, Louie Bellson, Michael Bolton, Kenny Burrell, Dave Brubeck, Nell Carter, Ron Carter, Pete Christlieb, Vinnie Colaiutta, Larry Combs, Joey DeFrancesco, Kurt Elling, Jon Faddis, Aretha Franklin, Steve and Eydie Gorme, Danny Gottlieb, Marvin Hamlisch, Herbie Hancock, Bob Hope, Rodney Jones, Pat LaBarbera, Russell Malone, Kevin Mahogany, Johnny Mathis, Brother Jack McDuff, Jim McNeeley, Bob Mintzer, Rita Moreno, Danilo Perez, Don Rickles, Dianne Schuur, Ed Shaughnessy, Bobby Shew, Bobby Short, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Michael W. Smith, Byron Stripling, Clark Terry, Frank Wess, Barry White, Joe Williams, Vanessa Williams, Nancy Wilson, Phil Wilson, Phil Woods, Stevie Wonder, The Four Freshman, The Temptations, and The Ravinia Orchestra.
Kirk is in high demand as a composer and arranger. He was recently commissioned to write arrangements for internationally renowned jazz saxophonist Phil Woods with big band and an arrangement of Nature Boy for orchestra and choir which premiered in 2010. He has written commissioned arrangements for DePaul University, Rob Parton's Jazz Tech Big Band, the Chicago String Ensemble, the Heritage Chorale of Oak Park Il, and the Millar Brass Ensemble at Northwestern University.
Howard Reich, jazz critic for the Chicago Tribune wrote, "The spectacular trumpet solo that Kirk Garrison offered ... reminded listeners why the Jazz Members Big Band stands among the best repertory units in the country."
Cadence Magazine's jazz critic Jack Bowers wrote "Kirk Garrison's marvelous trumpet work ... so moving it brought tears to my eyes."
His trumpet artistry was described as "cool work" by John Von Rhein, music critic of the Chicago Tribune.
John Killoch of Mainly Big Bands (UK) wrote in a review, "This guy nails the section with a big, accurate lead sound and when he flexes his chops ... the sound is again right down the middle, in tune, big and so high. Musical is a good way to put it. An object lesson to anyone who aspires to be a top lead trumpeter."
Kirk currently performs as a guest soloist and clinician/adjudicator at middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout the country. He uses Denis Wick precision mutes and mouthpieces and is a Denis Wick performing artist. Products and sponsorship provided by DANSR, Inc. the North American importer for Denis Wick. He also endorses AMT microphones and uses the AMT P800W.