Kenwood Dennard

Professor

"A good percussionist starts with a good human being. I learned that from Wayne Shorter, a very influential mentor my entire life. Being a good percussionist technically is to execute the rudiments so you can support the rest of the musicians. From there, you need to be able to realize inner ideas. This is what band leaders have looked for in me, such as Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, and Dizzy Gillespie. That's what they look for in the 'real world.'"

"I teach private students and several drum labs. In one of my favorite labs we cover unusual rates. I'd like my students to think outside the box, beyond simple 8th notes and 16th notes, and at the same time support the other people in the band. Students who have learned mostly from a videotape or maybe from listening to CDs haven't had much chance to perform with other musicians. Some drummers have difficulty with time and feel—and playing with other musicians—for that reason."

"People say it's not what you know, it's who you know. But I say, don't you think it's how they feel when you're around that's most important? It was Charlie Mingus who showed me the importance of influencing the other members of the band. When I played with Mingus, he made me sound better just by being onstage."

Career Highlights

 

  • Alumnus, Berklee College of Music
  • Studies with Nadia Boulanger
  • Extensive performing experience with artists including George Clinton, Chick Corea, Gil Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, and others
  • Leader on CD Just Advance on Big World Records, featuring Marcus Miller and Hiram Bullock
  • Recordings include The Sweetest Days, Vanessa Williams; Live at Montreaux, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones; Nothing Like the Sun, Sting; and others