Kerry Marsh is a composer and arranger specializing in contemporary music for vocal jazz ensembles. Terry Teachout, arts critic and contributing reviewer to the Wall Street Journal, said that “Kerry’s gorgeous charts, with their wide-spaced harmonies and tingling dissonances, are as good as postmodern vocal group writing gets.” In high demand as a commissioned arranger for many of the nation’s top educational vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles, Marsh has a large and varied catalog of music performed regularly around the world. Kerry publishes over 180 compositions and arrangements at KerryMarsh.com, and also has published arrangements through UNC Jazz Press and Sound Music Publications.
Kerry is a proud member of the jazz studies faculty at The University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where he directs two advanced vocal jazz ensembles and teaches applied jazz voice. In only three years under Kerry’s direction, Vocal Lab has won two Down Beat Magazine Student Music Awards in the Large Graduate Level Vocal Jazz Ensemble Category, and in 2016, they performed at the annual Jazz Education Network convention in Louisville, KY. Previously, Kerry served for ten years as the director of vocal jazz ensembles at Sacramento State. In that time, his ensembles and individual students earned thirteen Down Beat Awards, distinguishing Sac State as one of the premier vocal jazz programs in the country during that timespan. Marsh’s vocal jazz ensembles were invited twice to perform at conferences of the International Association for Jazz Education, and, in 2009, they were one of fourteen winners of a national search to have a song appear on the Epic Records release: “Ben Folds – College A Cappella”. Marsh has since worked with Folds as a vocal arranger and background singers director in numerous performances with major symphony orchestras, including the Boston Pops, The Washington National Symphony and The LA Philharmonic in performances at The Hollywood Bowl.
Along with his wife and musical collaborator Julia Dollison, Kerry released his highly ambitious debut album, Vertical Voices: The Music of Maria Schneider, in March 2010 through ArtistShare. Endorsed by the Grammy-winning composer herself and funded largely through fan contributions, the album features Schneider’s music as written for her jazz orchestra, but with the horn parts entirely sung, and the rhythm section consisting of Frank Kimbrough, Ben Monder, Jay Anderson and Clarence Penn (all current members of The Maria Schneider Orchestra). Vertical Voices was met with great critical praise, earning a four-star review in Down Beat Magazine. Dollison and Marsh perform regularly with the vocal quartet called Vertical Voices, also featuring Greg Jasperse and Jennifer Barnes. The quartet performs the music of Schneider as well as Pat Metheny, Nando Lauria and more, including original compositions by the group.
Marsh is busy year-round as an adjudicator and clinician for jazz festivals and workshops. Kerry has directed all-state jazz choirs in California, Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, Arizona, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wyoming, Illinois, New York, Maine, Iowa, New Hampshire All State Jazz Choirs as well as the Nassau County (NY) Honor Jazz Choir.
Kerry graduated in 2000 from the University of Kansas with a B.M.E. in Music Education and in 2003 with a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas.