"Perhaps the challenge of playing 'roots' or soul music is the struggle between paying homage to the legends of the past while still being fresh and original, propelling the music forward. Mick Kinney accomplishes both, and more. Every year when we teach together at the Swannanoa Gathering, I find myself scratching my head, wondering how he creates such a unique and authentic sound. It's just in him...it's in his hands and his voice. Anywhere he plays, that's where I want to be both physically and emotionally."
US State Department / Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador
International touring Jazz and Gospel Pianist
Lecturer of Music, McDaniel College, Westminster MD
The piano compositions of Mick Kinney are grounded in the early 20th century Ragtime of Joplin and Lamb, yet incorporate numerous influences of other genres into a genuine pan-American style. Not unlike current “terra verde” pianists, or their antecedents such as Gottschalk, Nazareth, and Jelly Roll Morton, Kinney’s pieces could well have been written in the Romantic Period. His approach is more hemispheric than provincial, making frequent use of Habenera and Tango motifs, while drawing from the manifold sources of his own career catalogue. As was W. C. Handy, Kinney is a fiddler of blues, breakdowns, and dance rags, prototypical forms in a repertoire that also reflects his experience playing banjo, Cajun accordion, and styles from Creole and Celtic to Calypso.
Kinney wrote his first piano rag at age 16 upon hearing that Eubie Blake had done so. Leaving home and piano behind at 17, he went deeply into folk traditions, producing rags for solo guitar and old time string band. Settling back down to piano, and undaunted by his lack of theory or composition training, he went on to pen songs and tunes in a plethora of genres, which he recorded on his critically acclaimed CD Nothing Left to Chance.
Now nearing fifty years old, he feels it is time to document and perform his cache of classical Ragtime. With its strong themes, symmetry, and no shortage of homages, Kinney’s original rags are sure to hold the attention of the seasoned listener, while offering casual audiences a generous portion of musical comfort food.
"I admire Mick Kinney's ease in being a kind of musical chameleon, able to color his sound as he moves among styles of music . On his last album, he convinced me he was an Irish balladeer, an urbane Cole Porter, and a moaning Bob Dylan. Amidst this richness, I find his original piano rags a particular delight. They are graceful, nostalgic, slightly off-kilter, and expansive. For me, they evoke a lost world of dancing at home by a piano, to music full of small surprises. In the music's false stops and sudden starts, elegant harmonies and gentle syncopations, there is much pleasure, from small guffaws to belly laughs."
Composer, Pianist, and Professor of Music Theory, Clark Atlanta University
(Former facultymember at Georgetown University, MIddlebury College, Emory University