Kenny Dennis

Kenny Dennis began his music career in the United States Army Band playing drums in three bands from 1948-1952. While serving, he met and performed with fellow musicians, (alto-saxophonist) Cannonball Adderley, his brother, (trumpet player) Nat, and (pianist) Junior Mance. After being discharged, he connected with junior high school mate, (pianist) Ray Bryant and became part of The Ray Bryant Trio along with Jimmy Rowser on bass. They became the house trio at the famous North Philadelphia Jazz Club, “Blue Note” where they played for such notable jazz artist as J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Chris Connor, and Sonny Stitt. His career next took him to New York, where he worked with numerous artists including Miles Davis, Phineas Newborn, Billy Taylor, Erroll Garner, Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins. In 1957 Kenny performed in Sonny Rollins's Trio with bassist Wendell Marshall at Carnegie Hall -- a historic performance that was commemorated in 2007 with a 50th anniversary concert. Kenny’s next stop was California, when Miles Davis recommended him to Ms. Lena Horne. Recording credits include recordings with such notable artist as Michelle Le Grande Miles Davis, Charlie Mingus, Nancy Wilson, Gerald Wilson and Langston Hughes.

Kenny and Nancy Wilson were married from 1960 to 1970 and their son, Kenneth (Kacy) Dennis, Jr, was born in 1963.

For the past couple of decades Kenny's passion has been mentoring young jazz musicians. One aspect of this work since 1997 has been through his work as assistant director of the Lab Band at the award winning Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (www.artshigh.org). In 2008 Kenny served on the Steering Committee of the UCLA Friends of Jazz A Great Day in L.A. event, which brought together over 250 Los Angeles area artists, vocalists, composers, and arrangers --- representing a wide variety of age, race, culture, gender, nationality, and a tremendous range of jazz music --- for a group photograph paying homage on the 50th anniversary of Art Kane's legendary photograph, A Great Day in Harlem.

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