Associate Professor of Music in Jazz Saxophone
Craig Bailey’s interest in music began at the age of 8 when he learned how to play the recorder with a small group of classmates. Following that, he became a part of the All City Boys Choir in his hometown of Cincinnati. He enrolled in the beginning band program in junior high and took up the clarinet, saxophone and flute, perfecting his skills in playing all three instruments in high school and college.
Bailey earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Miami (FL), then headed to New York City in 1985. As a young artist in New York, he worked with drummer Charli Persip’s Superband. During this time, Bailey made many musical contacts and heard some of the jazz world’s finest veterans and young lions. After he joined the world-renowned group of Panama Francis and his Savoy Sultans, Bailey learned more about traditional swing music. With Francis’ group, he traveled to Europe for the first time.
After playing with the Savoy Sultans for two years, Bailey landed an audition with Ray Charles and became the music legend’s lead alto saxophonist from 1988-2004. While working with Charles, Bailey also collaborated with other artists including the TanaReid Quintet, Bobby Watson’s Tailor Made Big Band and the Tom Harrell Big Band. Bailey developed his small group writing and playing style during this time, drawing upon the wealth of experiences from having played with some of the world’s greatest composers and arrangers. Performing great works of music has led Bailey to his own arranging and composing.
Bailey’s debut album, A New Journey, was met with critical acclaim and is referenced in The Encyclopedia of Jazz. His second release, Brooklyn, was met with a favorable review in JazzTimes magazine, with critic Ron Wynn observing, “This band has played these songs long enough to have a polish and precision, which is refreshing. The group also brings a sense of purpose to Bailey’s compositions … and his impact is sizable on Brooklyn.”
BFA: University of Miami Coral Gables, FL,
MA: Queens College Queens, NY,