Kenne Thomas Profile

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Drummer Kenne ThomasDrummer, composer, and author, Kenne Thomas is the son of Chicago saxophonist, Jimmy “Bouncy” Whitehead. Influenced by family friends, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt he began his musical career in his hometown of Chicago performing with notable musicians, Jodie Christian, Ari Brown, Adam Rudolph the Charles Walton Big Band, and members of the AACM. In the early 70’s Kenne moved to Minnesota where he performed with pianist, Jimmy Bowman Trio. Attending Moorhead State University, he played around the region with the R & B horn band, AIRTIGHT.

After graduating with a degree in Music Education, he joined the Jerry Lakes Memories of Elvis Supershow which toured throughout the US and in Europe. Kenne went to Japan, in 1979 to perform, with the Pullman-West Band, out of Detroit. In the 80’s he toured with King Records artist, jazz organist, Toshihiko Kankawa, featuring guitarist, Kiyoshi Sugimoto, renown Tokyo bassist, Yoshio Ikeda group and Japanese rock band, MAYA. Kenne later joined the house band at the Jazz Club, DIARY, in Osaka, where he worked with pianist, Hideyuki Naruse and bassist Kazuo Setoyama. They collectively formed The Osaka Trio and became the nucleus of the Japanese jazz fusion group, AIRTIGHT, renewing the name from the 70’s band and performing in clubs and on television.

After returning to the USA in 1994, as a graduate teaching assistant he played with the Fargo Moorhead Symphony, St. Paul Civic Symphony, Roseville Big Band, River City Jazz Orchestra, numerous shows and recordings with guitarist Pat Surface and other groups. Kenne has authored numerous percussive education books and articles, including Drum Circle Cookbook, Hand Drumming Independence, Jembe Gems, and Dumbek Dance, and, The Clave, for the P.A.S. Magazine. He also has several Haiku poetry books published and available on Amazon.

Kenne now leads the smooth jazz ensemble, Kenne Thomas Lifeforce and also the modern swing jazz group, Kenne Thomas K-TET. He chooses talented jazz musicians from around the midwest and throughout the country who display their skills with fire and zest. The recently released album, WOODLAWN by Kenne Thomas Lifeforce has gotten airplay around the country. The up-front saxophone/trombone lineup echoes the spirit of Tony Williams Quintet, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the Jazz Crusaders. Kenne's new album, YESTERDAYS is jazz in the classic Be-Bop, Swing mode with compositions penned by Kenne Thomas. Featured on the album, singing a beautiful new ballad, as well as the classic jazz title track is the sultry voiced, Ms. Lila Ammons, niece of the great, Gene Ammons. You can hear cuts on jazz stations nationwide.

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