Kenny Banks Jr.

Kenny Banks Jr.'s Biography

Kenny Banks Jr., a resident of Atlanta, GA has earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic jazz artists in the Southeast. Kenny was a finalist in the 2019 American Pianists Awards jazz competition and performed to great acclaim in solo and trio formats, as well as with Grammy-winning vocalist Kurt Elling.

Kenny started to play the piano at age seven. Training one on one with his father, Kenny Banks Sr. (also a pianist), he learned the fundamentals of music theory, jazz and composition. Under the guidance of his mother Esther Banks, music director at St. Paul AME Church in Columbus, Ohio, the church would be his first musical outlet. The church would also be the training ground for the growth of his musicality and professionalism.

Kenny is noted for his blended technique in mixing jazz and gospel styles. Downbeat Magazine describes his playing as "gospel and blues-infused" and calls his arrangements "thrilling, modern and surprising." Jazziz Magazine notes his "deeply embodied gospel and soul roots" with "supple phrasing and effortless command of late 20th century harmony."

In 2003, Kenny entered the broader world of music with the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, and he joined the orchestra on tours of South America and Europe. In 2009, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue his musical career full time.

Since then, Kenny has performed and toured with the Grammy nominated trumpeter Theo Croker in China and accompanied Global Peace Song award winner and trumpeter Darren English in the South African Jazz Festival. While working in the music industry of the south, Banks was introduced to "funk jazz" recording artist Darryl Reeves, in which he gives credit to for opening his mind to the world of infusing hip-hop and funk with jazz. Along with Kurt Elling, he has performed across the United States with a wide variety of world class artists such as Jennifer Holiday, Jazzmeia Horn, Kenny Latimore, Russell Gunn, Dionne Farris, Christian Howes, India Arie and Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. More recently, Kenny has become a frequent feature and guest artist at world renowned jazz clubs across the world, including The Blue Note and Dizzy's Coca-Cola jazz club in New York City, performing as a solo pianist and as a band leader with his trio. He also performs regularly with familiar residents of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Marcus Printup and Chris Crenshaw.

From his base in Atlanta, Kenny has been a part of several film and television productions including HBO's "Bessie" starring Queen Latifah, "Jacob's Ladder" with Michael Ealy, "Star" on Fox, "Married to Medicine," Genius "Aretha Franklin" series starring Cynthia Erivo and a Gil Evans documentary with executive music producer/Grammy award winner Terence Blanchard.

Kenny Banks Jr expresses himself compositionally from a broad range of music. KJO's Live at Lucille's states, "His music is at once sophisticated, spirited, spontaneous and brilliantly executed." "Embrace the sound" says Kenny. "This way of thinking aids me in my approach, helping me to view situations from a state of optimism, on and off the bandstand."

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Kenny Banks Jr.