All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Mikayla Gilbreath

Mikayla Gilbreath Mikayla Gilbreath

Mikayla Gilbreath (17) began playing saxophone in September, 2005, and therefore still considers herself to be a novice. But her progress as a jazz musician has been nothing less than remarkable. Despite her young age and scant experience, she is currently Lead Alto Saxophonist for the nationally recognized “DVHS Performance Jazz Ensemble.” The band is widely considered to be one of the best high school jazz bands in America.

In August 2008, Mikayla was admitted to Glendale College where she presently studies Saxophone and Jazz Improvisation.

Gilbreath's passion for jazz grew from her exposure to the music of Sonny Rollins. On November 19, 2006, with just 14 months experience playing her instrument, Gilbreath had the great honor of meeting Mr. Rollins and playing her music for him. Gilbreath admits that having Rollins listen to her play was one of the most terrifying moments of her life! But by merely showing interest in Mikayla and her music, the legendary Sonny Rollins has created many opportunities for Gilbreath, and has instilled in her a genuine desire for personal achievement.

Since March 2007, Gilbreath has been featured on as part of “Meeting Sonny - The Sonny Rollins Podcast - Episode 3.” In April 2007, Gilbreath appeared on National Public Radio where she participated in Jazz Journalists Assn President Howard Mandel's interview with Sonny Rollins entitled “Saxophonist Sonny Rollins Still Swinging Strong.” Gilbreath proudly notes that Mr. Rollins is referred to as her “mentor” in that piece. And in the September 2007 issue of JazzTimes Magazine, Gilbreath was featured in Nat Hentoff's article entitled “Bridging Generations.”

Read more


”'On,' [Jazz Journalists Association President, Howard] Mandel continues, 'You can see Mikayla Gilbreath, a 13-year-old saxophonist from Tempe, Arizona.' On one of the podcasts, Gilbreath, who first heard Sonny’s music in her grade school... is seen meeting Sonny backstage. ...And she tells how she became committed to the jazz life. ...'I heard Sonny Rollins, and I just loved it. I loved the way it sounded and I just -- I wanted to play jazz instead of just music.' ...Mandel asked her if there was anything odd about having been 'drawn to the music of someone whose background is so different from hers.' ...Wisely, the 13-year-old answered, 'You know, I really don’t think it matters

Read more


Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.