Trumpeter Kenny Rittenhouse has led his own jazz quartet for the past 14 years performing in and around the Washington, DC area. He has performed with such jazz artists as drummer Ralph Peterson; saxophonists Don Braden, Buck Hill and Steve Wilson; bassists James King and Dwayne Dolphin. He also performs regularly with The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
In 1988 he earned a B.A. in trumpet performance from West Virginia Wesleyan College and also did graduate work at The Eastman School of Music, studying arranging and improvisation with Ray Wright and Bill Dobbins. In May 2006 he earned a Masters degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Maryland.
Kenny is currently of The Army Blues Jazz Ensemble, part of The United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own) in Washington, DC.
SOME NOTES ON THE MUSIC
The Francis Suite is a four movement suite written for my family:
TINY’S CRIB refers to my father Russell. He was so tiny as a baby, his father used to carry him around in his coat pocket. He was a laid-back, gentle man who had an enormous influence on me.
THE SISTERHOOD is for my three sisters Penny, Rhonda, and my twin sister Jennifer. I learned some valuable lessons from them growing up. Since our mother’s passing, Penny has become the matriarch of the family, and what an excellent job she’s doing!
LAST OF THE SOUL BROTHERS refers to my brothers Carleton and Michael. They grew up with the 70’s with Soul music, 8-track tapes, and yes...velvet paintings!
FRANCIS was the first piece I wrote in the suite, dedicated to my mother Kay Francis. She worked tirelessly her entire life to provide for all of us. And through her education and activism, she taught us how to survive and make the most out of life.
My arrangement of YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE is dedicated to the love of my life, Stacey! Without her support and inspiration, this project would have never happened. I had a smile on my face the entire time I was recording this tune because it was a surprise to her!
MALCOLM’S RETURN is in memory of Malcolm X’s Hajj to Mecca. The different sections of the tune mirror his changing vision of the world during this period in his life.
RHONDA LYNNE was written in memory of my sister, who I miss dearly everyday! Like our mother, her dedication and compassion to her children was her life!
I arranged AMAZING GRACE in memory of my nephew Ronald “Jay” Kinzer. He was like a brother to me. He had a larger-than-life persona about him that left a huge impression on everyone he met. We miss him!
The Musicians that I worked with on this recording are some of the most swingin’ “cats” in Washington. Their interpretation of my original songs was powerful and moving; exactly what I wanted!
I’ve been working with J.C. Jefferson, Jr. now for about 14 years. His rhythmic concept really drives the band and his solo work on Tiny’s Crib shows him to be an extremely musical drummer!
When bassist Michael Bowie isn’t here in Washington, you can find him in New York city playing with jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln, of which he made several recordings with. Pay particular attention to his solo on Amazing Grace, it is absolutely beautiful. Rhonda Lynne is a feature for our pianist Janelle Gill. Her rhythmic and melodic approach helped to develop the ballad beyond what I ever imagined. It was a joy playing with her on the cd because she just plays all the right stuff!
The two horn players working with me on this project are originally from Philadelphia, which accounts for their hard bop approach to the music. Saxophonist Antonio Parker’s presence on the recording is powerful. He plays with an unrelenting swing that propels the music forward. Listen to his solo on Tiny’s Crib to hear how he devours the changes! I’ve been working with Bill Holmes for many years and have always been impressed with his concept of improvisation. Influenced by trombonist J.J. Johnson, Bill’s solo lines are very melodic as well as funky. Check out Last Of The Soul Brothers for one of his finest solos.