A veteran of the Chicago jazz scene, trumpeter Kirk Garrison attended Mankato State University in his home state of Minnesota before honing his skills in the United States Air Force Band. After leaving the Air Force in 1992, he completed his Master's degree in Jazz Studies at DePaul University where he is now a member of the jazz faculty. Garrison's recent performance credits include the International Music Festival in Hue, Vietnam with Kimotion, the Ravinia Music Festival with Dave Brubeck, the North Shore Jazz Festival with Joey DeFrancesco. Kirk 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 will premiere in January of 2010. He has been on several tours of Europe and the United States with the Lt. Dan Band featuring actor Gary Sinise.
Kirk has also appeared with such jazz stalwarts as Louie Bellson, Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Kurt Elling, and Herbie Hancock. In addition, Kirk Garrison is in high demand as a writer and arranger. In this capacity, he has received commissions from DePaul University, Rob Parton's Jazz Tech Big Band, the Chicago String Ensemble, 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 Garrison uses Denis Wick mutes and mouthpieces and is a Denis Wick performing artist.