Born: August 6, 1974 Primary Instrument: Piano
Andrew Bemkey (piano, bass clarinet)is a musician who honors the tradition, knows and loves the music of the masters, and doesn't sound like anyone ever heard before. Andrew was born in 1974 in Libertyville, a little town outside of Chicago, and grew up in Indiana. After finishing high school, he moved to New York City and was fortunate to be schooled and inspired by three great musical mentors: Jaki Byard, Makanda Ken McIntyre, and Reggie Workman. During this time Andrew also began his own band, KinShip, which he maintained for three years, composing original music for the group, playing piano, keyboards, wooden flutes, and small percussion instruments, and sometimes singing. Meanwhile, master musicians such as Rashied Ali, Andrew Cyrille, Lawrence Butch Morris, and William Parker were calling on Andrew Bemkey to play in their bands. He has played at clubs, concert halls, churches, educational institutions, nursing homes, hospitals, and youth centers. His original music was featured in an off-Broadway play, and later he was heard in the stage band of William Parker's Dancin' at the Belltown Rack at Theatre for the New City. He has toured with drummer Susie Ibarra, playing duets at HotHouse in Chicago; his travels with alto saxophonist Ori Kaplan's groups led to Rome (the Villa Cellimontana Festival), Finland (Tampere Jazz Happening), and Paris (more intimate settings); and Andrew played in a Lawrence Butch Morris conduction ensemble in Lisbon (Jazz em Agosto Festival) as well as several more in New York City. He has also played in five consecutive Vision Festivals in New York City. In many settings to date, Andrew's bandmates have included, among others: Tom Abbs, Rashied Ali, Newman Taylor Baker, Billy Bang, Andrew Barker, Louie Belogenis, Dean Bowman, Roy Campbell, Jr., Daniel Carter, Ellen Christi, Andrew Cyrille, Henry Grimes, Susie Ibarra, Jackson Krall, Frank Lowe, Gamiel Lyons, Sabir Mateen, Lawrence Butch Morris, Brandon Ross, Chris Sullivan, Chad Taylor, Michael Thompson, Charles Tolliver, and Henry Warner. Andrew Bemkey can be heard on a half-dozen recordings.