Clay Jenkins' career as a jazz artist has covered a wide range of musical experiences and responsibilities, bringing him to the forefront of the jazz performing and teaching arenas. Clay's experience as a performer began at an early age playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. He recorded three live albums with the Kenton Band, Artistry in Symphonic Jazz, A Time for Love, and The Lost Concerts, Vols. I & II, and was also involved with the Stan Kenton Orchestra in Residence Jazz Camps. Clay moved to Los Angeles in1978, where he was in demand as both a live performer and studio-recording musician. It was at this time that he studied with the renowned trumpet teacher, James Stamp. From Los Angeles, he toured with the big bands of Harry James, Buddy Rich, and finally, the Count Basie Orchestra.
Since moving to Rochester, NY to join the Eastman faculty in 2000, Clay has maintained a busy performing, recording, and teaching schedule. He has remained active throughout the United States (especially NYC and LA) and abroad. Clay continues to perform and record with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, of which he is a charter member (the trumpet section has included trumpet artists Snooky Young, Bobby Bryant, Chuck Findley, Oscar Brashear, Byron Stripling, and Bijon Watson).
Clay's solo recordings include Rings, Give and Gather, Yellow Flowers After, Azure Eyes, and Matters of Time. Additionally, his ensemble with co-leader Kim Richmond has released three recordings: Range, Look at the Time, and Crossweave. Other artists Clay has recorded with include Milt Jackson, the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Diana Krall, Billy Harper, Lyle Mays, Peter Erskine, Harold Danko, Rufus Reid, Ray Brown, Joe La Barbera, Kurt Elling, Dr. John, Bob Sheppard, Jim Widner, John La Barbera, Pat La Barbera, Eric Reed, Gary Hobbs, Rich Perry, Bill Perkins, Bill Cunliffe, Gary Anderson, Billy Childs, Steve Houghton, Lennie Niehaus, Ernestine Anderson, Karrin Allyson, and Miki Coltrane. Professor Jenkins also have recording project with his Eastman colleagues Jeff Campbell and Rich Thompson on their Trio East recording. His most recent recording project is Blues State.