Al Naylor Musical History

My friend Al Naylor has mentored and taught thousands of Iowa jazz players. Many of them have followed him into teaching and playing professionally. And he has taught this non-player so much about jazz and leading a band.

Al’s music career began in his home town of Jefferson, Iowa, where his school band was directed by the legendary Jack Oatts, founder of high school jazz in Iowa. He studied at UNI in the heyday of that university’s jazz program, directed by Jim Coffin. He toured nationally with pop and funk bands, including a stint in New York City, before returning to Iowa to finish college He received both his Bachelor and Master degrees from the University of Northern Iowa. He began his teaching career as the band director at the Malcolm Price Lab School at the University of Northern Iowa.  Al’s 27 years as a band director in the Linn-Mar Community Schools included 20 years as the Director of Jazz Studies. In 1985 Al was the guest soloist with UNI Jazz Band One on their European tour, including a performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival.  Al was the Trumpet Artist – Instructor at Coe College in Cedar Rapids from 2007-2018, where he taught brass techniques and brass seminar classes along with trumpet lessons for music majors and non-majors.

Al was a founding faculty member of KCCK’s Middle School Jazz Camp and is a member of Schoolhouse Jazz, KCCK’s award winning group that does presentations on the history of Jazz at elementary schools. He served as Director of Jazz Bands at Kirkwood from 2013-2015.

Al has maintained an active private teaching studio for many years, and he has been a frequent performer with several area groups, including the Rod Pierson Big Band, Bob Dorr and the Blue Band, Funk Stop, and Orquesta Alto Maiz.  Al has also performed with a number of well-known artists, including Frank Sinatra Jr., Aretha Franklin, and the Temptations.  His own groups are his jazz quintet, the Al Naylor Group, and his big band, the I-380 Express.  

Dr. William Carson and Al Naylor are the co-editors of “Spoon River” by Percy Grainger, published by Southern Music in 2010. This was the first time Grainger’s concert band version of “Spoon River” was published, and since then both the Dallas Wind Symphony and the President’s Own Marine Band have recorded “Spoon River”.

Al has released two albums as a leader. 2011’s “Legacy” received great reviews and nearly reached the top 50 in jazz air play nationwide. Al composed seven of the eight pieces on the CD, which features him with five other professional musicians who are all his former students. In 2019, he released “Friends,” which featured Al performing with musician friends from throughout his long career.

In 2013 Al was inducted into the Jazz Educators of Iowa Hall of Fame.

It’s my pleasure to host this page which features some audio and video highlights of his work.  


Jefferson, IA High School 1967-1968

Featuring Guest Artist, Clark Terry

UNI Jazz Band One 1972

Sisters-Freeway 1973-1975

Chopper 1975-1977

1980s – 1990s

  • Blues for MJ – Original composition performed with UNI Jazz Band One at the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival
  • Take Me Out To The Ballgame – Brass arrangement written to play during the 7th-inning stretch for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. This recording has Al on all the parts.

Variety Club Telethon

1991: “A Night in Tunisia,” “Jonny Quest Theme,” & “Nica’s Dream.”

1992: Day In, Day Out” & When I Fall in Love”

1992: “On Green Dolphin St.” & “Fingers”

I-380 Express Audio Recordings


Al Naylor Quartet – John Shultz, piano, Gary Palmer, bass, and Dave Tiede, drums

2012 Iowa City Jazz Festival

Al Naylor Group performing “Summer Sailing” at the 2012 Iowa City Jazz Festival.

2013 Jazz Under the Stars

AL Naylor and the I-380 Express

Al got the I-380 Express back together to open the Jazz Under the Stars 2013 season. Here is “Come Fly With Me.” Recorded at Noelridge Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on August 1, 2013.

SAXOPHONES: Drew Pierson tenor, Tom Barry alto, Rod Pierson alto, Peter Hart tenor, Lynne Hart bari. TRUMPETS: Rene Ybarra, Chris Van Leeuwen, Steve King, Andrew Escalante. TROMBONES: Dan Cassady, Rich Medd, Bob Manson, Joel Nagel bass. RHYTHM SECTION: Steve Shanley piano, Bob Dunn guitar, Steve Charlson bass, Jim Dreier drums.

Sound by Karrleton Recording. Video by Richard Rauch (


KCCK’s Corridor Jazz Project

Al has been a regular guest artist with the Corridor Jazz Project since its inception in 2008. In fact, he suggested the name! In 2019, Steve Shanley and I presented Al with a plaque honoring his five appearances as a guest clinician.

In 2020, just weeks before the pandemic shut everything down, Al added a sixth appearance in the program, with the Cedar Rapids Jefferson Jazz Ensemble. Their director at the time, Chad Allard, is one of dozens of Al’s former students who have followed him into teaching and performing. Chad invited Al to perform Pat Metheny’s beautiful ballad “Back in Time.”