Custom Bucket #1
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Art of Jazz at SAM: Tim Kennedy Band
General Event Information
Live Music: Jazz
Dates and Times:
September 12, 5:30PM-7:30PM
From Earshot Jazz:
Tim Kennedy is a Seattle-based pianist, songwriter, producer, and one third of the popular electro/pop band Richie Aldente. A working musician in every sense of the word, his regular gigs include a weekly jazz jam for Microsoft employees and Sunday mornings at the Ebenezer A.M.E. Zion Church, where he is the accompanist for the gospel band. Tim is also the host and co-curator for the Royal Room’s new Piano Starts Here series, which features local artists playing the works of some of history’s greatest jazz pianists.
Kennedy has a deep reverence for jazz history and has made an exhaustive study of his predecessors, so his involvement with the Piano Starts Here series is a natural extension. He played on the first show of the series, which featured the music of Thelonious Monk. He’s since taken on a more active role that includes introducing the program and the guest pianists, giving a historical background of the chosen composer, and performing the opening song to kick off the set. Kennedy also works with The Royal Room co-owner and jazz musician Wayne Horvitz to curate the series, which takes place on the last Wednesday of every other month. The next performance, scheduled for November 28, will feature the music of Bill Evans.
Born and raised in Bellevue, Kennedy started playing piano when he was 12 years old. He graduated from William Paterson University, where he studied with Pete Malinverni and Harold Mabern. Through the years, Kennedy’s musical trajectory has included two tours of Asia and stints in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York City, where he lived and played for 11 years.
While living in the Big Apple, Kennedy met the great pianist John Hicks, who became his mentor. Kennedy eventually found his way back to the Pacific Northwest and has lived in Seattle for five years.
Although he’s immersed in multiple projects, Kennedy has found a musical home in Gravity, the jazz trio and production team that he co-founded with his best friends, bassist Ian Sheridan and drummer Claudio Rochat-Felix. Kennedy describes them as “like brothers” whose collaboration has an instantaneous ease, which translates into the music. “You get into some truth playing with people you’re really familiar with,” he says. He cites the examples of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, all of whom had ongoing core groups: “It takes the band to another level.”
Roughly a year and a half ago, Kennedy, Sheridan and Rochat-Felix assumed alter egos and formed the quirky dance band Richie Aldente. The band combines old school funk and soul with contemporary hip-hop and puts on frolicking stage shows that include costume changes, disco balls and playful interaction with the crowd. Debut CD, For the Ladies, quickly helped the band build a strong and loyal following. Two singles from the disc – “Cougar Hunt” and “Give It to the DJ” – will be released on a vinyl 45 later this month. Richie Aldente has recently added a new member, Sheridan’s brother Geoffrey, and just wrapped up recording its second CD.
While Kennedy’s roots are firmly in jazz, he shows his versatility in a willingness to sink into a variety of genres, including gospel, pop, hip-hop, soul and jazz. Regarding the mélange of his musical efforts, he says casually, “It all speaks the same to me.” When asked to describe his good friend, Rochat-Felix says: “He has a great capacity for wonder and a high level of curiosity. Tim is the most fearlessly creative person I know.”