137 – Kevin Kanner: Coming Up Under Jeff Hamilton, Playing with John Pizzarelli, Doubling Down on the Music He Loves
In today’s music landscape, Kevin Kanner is a rare breed of drummer; focused intently and passionately on straight-ahead jazz. While many of his generation have looked for ways to widen the scope of the drumset and the role of the drummer, and cross breed jazz with other genres, Kevin’s musical ambition has remained simple and singular: to swing. Like his heroes, Philly Joe Jones, Mickey Roker, his fellow West Coast jazzer Shelly Manne, and his mentor Jeff Hamilton, Kevin brings a fiery but concentrated intensity to the music. This “dyed-in-the-wool” identity has become his calling card and is the reason he has been sought after by the likes of John Pizzarelli, Eric Reed, Walter Smith III, Terrell Stafford, Gerald Clayton, and many more of the best in the current jazz world.
Kevin is based in his hometown of Los Angeles, which has a rich jazz history of its own. What it has historically lacked in Kevin’s estimation, is a place for the straight-ahead, take-no-prisoners, small-group, instrumental jazz to which he has dedicated himself for so long. But Kevin and a few equally dedicated cohorts are on a mission to win a place at the L.A. table for the brand of swinging they love. He originated and continues to run a Monday nigh jam session at The Mint in L.A., a venue not otherwise known for jazz, but one that has proven a weekly home for the L.A. jazz community. After performing as a sideman for his entire career, Kevin is also venturing into leading his own sextet.
In this podcast, Kevin talk about:
Starting and continuing The Mint Jam
Forming a close relationship with Jeff Hamilton as a teenager that continues today
Learning jazz language through experiencing it in its whole form
What all the music he loves has in common
The two essential elements he feels jazz must not lose
Playing with John Pizzarelli
Why he left L.A. and why he returned
The strengths and weaknesses in jazz pedagogy
Recognizing the differences between different types of jazz, and giving each their due
This episode is sponsored by Crush Drums.