Jeff Kaye was born in the Bronx in 1951. At a young age, his family moved to the Washington DC area, shuffling back and forth between DC and the Bronx for thirteen years and finally settling in DC, which today is still Kaye’s hometown.
Kaye started playing piano at the age of 10. While in high school he played in a local rock and roll band, “The Immortals.” The band got a chance to perform at the Steel Pier where Kaye was able to see Gene Krupa play live in a venue adjacent to their performing area. This was his first exposure to jazz. When he expressed an interest in jazz, his father took him to a local jazz venue in DC, “The Villa Rosa” to see Jimmy Smith. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing” says Jeff, “Jimmy Smith’s playing was so smooth, yet so intense!” The next concert his father took him to was at “Constitution Hall” to see Cannonball Adderley and Wes Montgomery. After hearing both those giants (and Joe Zawinul), jazz was permanently in his blood.
Kaye was a piano major at the University of Maryland and later went back to NY to study with Joanne Brackeen for two years. He then studied locally for two years with Stanley Cowell. Playing the DC Jazz scene while raising a family of three boys was a struggle, but truly a memorable time in Kaye’s life, members of his group included great players such as; Paul Carr, Ron Holloway and Art Cobb. During this time, Kaye was a member of a 150 piece Jazz band including Herbie Hancock, Buster Williams, Larry Coryell and other great musicians that performed at Madison Square Garden in 1976. In 1990 Kaye started a non-profit organization called Arts & Education in Concert (AEIC) to help youth stay drug free through their experiences in music. Reaching over 100,000 students he met and inspired many talented kids. One girl in particular, Abigail Kiser, spurred Kaye to start a “for” profit Indie Record Label called New Indie Artists, to help fund AEIC. Jeff‘s group “35 Days in May” is one of six artists that comprise the artist roster.