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Kenny Thompson / Bio

I have been playing sax since 1983 and am pretty much self-taught after receiving initial lessons on fingerings. I grew up listening to my father play tenor sax and sing in various R&B bands. I was exposed to a lot of Motown, Earth, Wind and Fire, Tom Scott, David Sanborn, Spyro Gyra, Grover Washington and Jeff Lorber to name a few of my early influences. These were influences I was exposed to long before I started playing so I think was subconsciously pre-programmed with a lot of good, tasty styles. I think I was able to improvise well very early in my playing due to the influences I was exposed to before I started playing. I played Jazz, Blues, R&B, Funk and Fusion starting with sitting in with my father’s bands when I was a teenager and then progressing into my own bands after I graduated from high school. After graduating from high school I joined the Army but not as a musician. Being in the Army was great because I had opportunities to play in other countries and to meet many other musicians. There are a lot of talented musicians in the Army and I was lucky to meet and play music with a few of them. I retired from the Army in 2007 and currently live in Round Rock, TX near Austin.

My music here on Reverb Nation:
I wrote the Song Fused with keyboardist Paul Branch in Colorado Springs, CO in 1994.
JiveCrank was the last band I was a part of from 2004 to 2006 in Seoul, South Korea. The band consisted of myself, keyboardist Adam Weir and guitarist Andrew Dalrimple and we wrote and recorded the following songs: Seoul Alive, Gin & Sonic, Last Chance, The One, Nana Funk and R.E.N.G.

My current equipment:
Tenor Saxophone: 1973 Selmer Mark VI with a Guardala #7 King mouthpiece using a Fibracell medium (#3) reed.
Soprano Saxophone: Masterpiece (curved) with an Otto Link #6 mouthpiece and a Fibracell medium (#3) reed.
I also play a Synthophone brand Electronic Wind Instrument.

My philosophy on reeds:
I have been exclusively playing synthetic reeds (first Bari and now Fibracell) since about four years after I started playing. Many people tell me they don’t like the sound of synthetic reeds because they have no color or warmth and I have heard this so many times that it is just the party line. It’s kind of funny because people usually tell me this after they tell me that I have a great sound so it’s kind of a contradiction. Actually, I have found the exact opposite to be true and I really love the precise consistency of synthetic reeds. They never get water logged or warped and I typically get at least 1-2 years of playing on each reed at a minimum. Life is too short to be searching for the perfect cane reed so I choose to use the synthetics. I have gotten so use to synthetics that I can barely get a sound from real cane reeds because they don’t provide a precise enough contact with the tip rail of the mouthpiece.

My philosophy on playing style:
I try to keep it simple but simplicity is the hardest thing to master and so I am always on a quest for simplicity. I allow space and silence to be part of my lead and solo phrasing so that the supporting music can be heard in context with what I am playing. Leaving space allows the listener to digest what I just said and it allows me time to think about what I am going to say next. I never play fluff or filler licks. If it isn’t going to be a soulful, meaningful lick then why play it and be mediocre. Silence isn’t mediocre so why not use it instead of filling the space with something that isn’t great… Besides, constant sound decreases the dynamic effectiveness of the good licks and becomes a static monotony for the audience.

General Info

Artist Name
Kenny Thompson
Home Page
Jazz / Nu-Jazz, funk jazz, soul jazz, acid jazz

Contact Info

Round Rock, TX