Music Educator/Pianist/Keyboardist/Bandleader/Recording Artist KENNY KIRKLAND (September 28, 1955 - November 13, 1998) was born in BROOKLYN, NY, began playing the piano at age 6, and began his professional music career as a teacher of CLASSICAL music.
He studied classical piano performance at the Manhattan School of Music for 18 months and then classical theory and composition before graduating as a teacher. A month before he was due to graduate he broke both legs, his jaw, his wrist and one hip. On his recovery, Kirkland moved into one of New York's celebrated lofts and it turned out to be one that musicians used to turn up to after work to play at all-night jam sessions.
During this time, at the urging of three jazz pianists who became his friends - HERBIE HANCOCK, KENNY BARRON, and LARRY WILLIS - he threw himself into the world of jazz, playing electric keyboards and acoustic piano.
In 1980, KENNY KIRKLAND was on tour in Japan, when he met Trumpeter WYNTON MARSALIS, which began their long association. On Marsalis's self-titled debut album, Kirkland shared the piano duties with one of his musical influences, Hancock, but was the sole pianist on Marsalis's subsequent releases Think Of One, Hothouse Flowers and Black Codes (From the Underground). After his association with Wynton Marsalis, Kirkland joined Branford Marsalis's band. He is also on Marsalis's funk band album Buckshot Lefonque. When Branford Marsalis assumed the high-visibility role of bandleader for NBC TV's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Kirkland became the band's pianist. But his time on the Los Angeles-based The Tonight Show was short-lived, for while he finally received well desereved fame and publicity, he felt he was not making "real music", and thus returned to the East Coast and more creative work after two years as The Tonight Show's pianist. He also ran contrary to jazz orthodoxy when he left Wynton Marsalis's acoustic traditional jazz combo to join Branford Marsalis, accompanying ex-Police pop star Sting.
In 1991, he released his debut as a leader, Kenny Kirkland, on GRP Records. Thunder And Rainbows (1991, Sunnyside Records), by "Jazz from Keystone", is a trio album with Kirkland, Charles Fambrough, and Jeff "Tain" Watts.
KENNY KIRKLAND was found deceased in his QUEENS, NEW YORK CITY apartment on Friday, November 13, 1998. Doctors later determined the cause of death to be Congestive Heart Failure.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENNY KIRKLAND SUNDAY MORNING JAZZ!!!
PEACE, LOVE, And SUNDAY MORNING JAZZY BLESSINGS;