Keith Karns is a trumpet player, arranger, and bandleader based in the Pacific Northwest. Keith has worked with some of the leading voices in jazz including Rich Perry, Greta Matassa, Lauren Sevian, Stefon Harris, The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, and Benny Golson.


Keith's big band has toured nationally and has recorded two CDs of his original compositions and arrangements. He has received awards from the National Trumpet Competition, the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Downbeat Magazine, and the Jazz Education Network (JEN). He has presented and performed the JEN Conference, as well as at NAfME conferences in Oregon, Texas, and Alaska, as well as the Northwest NAfME Conference. Keith's research focuses on the intersection of bebop, hard bop, gender, and building more inclusive spaces in jazz. 

Keith is the Director of Jazz at Central Washington University where he directs the jazz ensembles, coaches combos, teaches improvisation, and jazz arranging. He is also the Artistic Coordinator for the Jazz Program at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.

Keith holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Indiana University, and the University of North Texas. His teachers include John Harbaugh, Robert Baca, Joey Tartell, Pat Harbison, David Baker, Bill Adam, Jay Saunders, Rich DeRosa, and John Murphy. Keith performs on a custom trumpet built by Fred Powell. He is a Torpedo Bags performing artist and uses Torpedo Bags to transport and protect all of his trumpets.


...rhythmically persuasive, harmonically alluring, acknowledges an indispensable bond to the past, and swings like crazy.”

Jack Bowers, All About Jazz

...the gravitas and power here are extraordinary.”

Donald Elfman, The New York City Jazz Record

...filled with authenticity, homage, and refreshing creativity.”

Aric Schneller, International Trumpet Guild Journal

...Karns is an outstanding trumpeter, but it's his composing and arranging that sets him apart.”

— Tom Surowicz, Minneapolis Star Tribune