Gary Bartz

  • Professor of Jazz Saxophone

Areas of Study


  • BM, the Juilliard School


Gary Bartz, named a 2024 Jazz Master by the National Endownment for the Arts, is a prolific recording artist with more than 45 solo albums to his credit; he's appeared on more than 200 as a guest artist. 

The two-time Grammy winner was first exposed to jazz as the son of the owners of a jazz nightclub in his hometown of Baltimore. He ventured to New York City to attend the Juilliard School in 1958. After graduating, Bartz joined the Max Roach/Abbey Lincoln Group and the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, quickly earning a reputation as the greatest alto saxophonist since Cannonball Adderley. In 1965, Bartz joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and recorded Soulfinger, his recording debut. Around the same time, he began working with McCoy Tyner, and their relationship deepened the influence of John Coltrane on Bartz.

In 1970, Bartz received a call from Miles Davis, who asked Bartz to perform with his band at the historic Isle of Wight Festival. In the same year, Bartz also formed his own group, Ntu Troop, after the Bantu word for “unity.” Ntu blended soul, funk, African folk music, hard bop, and avant-garde jazz on such albums as I’ve Known Rivers and Other Bodies, based on the poetry of Langston Hughes, as well as Music is My Sanctuary, Love Affair, Another Earth, and Home.

More recently, he released Coltrane Rules: Tao of a Music Warrior, Live at the Jazz Standard Volume 1 and Volume 2, and several others, on his own label, OYO, which is named for the Nigerian tribe and the acronym “Own Your Own.” In 2020, Gary Bartz collaborated with the London-based spiritual jazz ensemble, Maisha, on Night Dreamer's  Direct-to-Disc Sessions on a vinyl format LP.

Bartz has been on the Oberlin Conservatory of Music faculty since 2001.

Bartz was named a 2024 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Bartz received the BNY Mellon Jazz 2015 Living Legacy Award that honors jazz masters from the mid-Atlantic region who have achieved distinction in jazz performance and education.

Bartz won a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for his performance on McCoy Tyner’s Illuminations, along with bass player Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash, and trumpet player Terence Blanchard.

Bartz won a Grammy at the 40th annual awards in 1997 for the Best Latin Jazz Performance for the release Habana, a Verve Records album made by Roy Hargrove's band, Crisol. Bartz has both performance and composition credits on the recording.

Gary Bartz has performed with:

  • Miles Davis, Shirley Horn, McCoy Tyner
  • Max Roach/Abbey Lincoln group
  • Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers
  • Charles Mingus’ Workshop

  • Live at the Jazz Standard, Vol. 1; 1999, OYO Recordings
  • Live at the Jazz Standard Vol. 2; 2005, OYO Recordings
  • Soprano Stories; 2005 OYO Recordings
  • Soulfinger with Art Blakey
  • Expansions and Extensions with McCoy Tyner
  • Another Earth
  • West 42nd Street
  • The Red and Orange Poems

Spring 2024

Principal Private Study - Jazz Saxophone — PVST 034
Prin Pvt Jazz Flute: — PVST 037
Secondary Private Study - Jazz Saxophone — PVST 085
Sec Pvt Jazz Flute: — PVST 090

Fall 2024

Principal Private Study - Jazz Saxophone — PVST 034
Principal Private Study - Jazz Flute — PVST 037
Secondary Private Study - Jazz Saxophone — PVST 085
Secondary Private Study - Jazz Flute — PVST 090

For assistance in contacting Gary Bartz, send email to


Gary Bartz Named a 2024 Jazz Master by the NEA

August 15, 2023

Oberlin jazz faculty member and legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz was named a 2024 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran says, “Gary Bartz's saxophone has blazed trails with his dynamic phraseology and iconic tone for decades—he is representative for the truth in music.” Bartz joins the ranks with fellow Oberlin faculty member Billy Hart, a 2022 NEA Jazz Master.

Jazz Saxophone Professor Gary Bartz Releases New Album

April 2, 2021

Oberlin Conservatory jazz saxophone professor Gary Bartz, with producers Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, has just released his first album in eight years titled, "Gary Bartz JID 006" on the Jazz is Dead label.

“He’s a luminary that has contributed so much to music culture, for decades,” says Younge about Bartz. “His musical ability is expanding with age and we’re honored to be a part of his world.”


Gary Bartz Named NEA Jazz Master for 2024

August 17, 2023

Oberlin’s Grammy Award-winning professor of jazz saxophone has been named a 2024 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest honor conferred to jazz musicians.