Nielsen, Ryan
Associate Professor - Music
NC 743
Last Updated: 1/14/19 -

Praised for the “breathtaking singing quality of his sound” by jazz icon John McNeil, and as a “musician of the highest order” by renowned orchestral trumpeter Charles Daval, Ryan Nielsen is a musician whose lyricism and versatility are rare, and whose artistry grows out of a love of groove, spirit, and beautiful melody. He began performing professionally at 17, and has since been a guest artist at concerts and festivals throughout the United States, including the Gene Harris Jazz Festival, the Sun Valley Jazz Festival, the Charlotte Jazz Festival, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. 

Nielsen’s album, Gift of Breath (a joint project with his mentor, Ra Kalam Bob Moses) was selected by the New York City Jazz Record as a 2017 Recommended New Release. In 2016, he was named trumpeter with the Kobie Watkins Grouptet. Their first album together, Movement was released in 2018 on Origin Records. It received a 4.5 star review on All About Jazz, was featured in the Chicago Jazz Magazine and Modern Drummer, and was named by the Chicago Tribune one of the Ten Best Albums of 2018. His playing can also be heard on Divine Colors (Nielsen Records 2013), Out of Nowhere (Jazz Hang Records 2013), Weeds in the Wall (Nielsen Records 2012), and A Summit Brass Night (Summit Records 2008). 

Nielsen’s love of teaching has garnered him a reputation as a passionate and inspiring professor. His students have gone on to varied and successful careers within and beyond music. 100% of graduates from his studio have received job offers and/or graduate school placement, receiving significant scholarship packages to pursue graduate work at many of the finest institutions in the United States, including the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champagne), the New School in New York City, Denver University, and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

While at Arizona State University, Nielsen studied with David Hickman, and was the recipient of the Doc Severinsen Award for outstanding classical and jazz trumpet. He went on to pursue doctoral studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he studied with John McNeil, Ra Kalam Bob Moses, and Tom Rolfs (Principal Trumpet, Boston Symphony Orchestra). He is currently Associate Professor of Trumpet at Utah Valley University.