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Take Five with Kenney Polson

Kenney Polson By

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After traveling to and performing in several countries I decided on one occasion to buy a 5' x 4' flag from the country I was visiting. When I got home I hung it on my bedroom wall. It looked very nice and when family came over they asked me about the flag and it turned out to be a great conversation piece. So, the next time I went to a different country I brought the flag of that particular country home and hung it on the wall next to the first flag. I really liked it and I decided to buy a 5' X 4' flag from every country in which I would visit. After lots of travel and many countries, the flags are now more like wallpaper and the flags are also displayed in some other rooms in the house! It's nice when a person comes over and sees a flag from a country in which they have visited.  It's even more special when a person from another country visits and sees the flag from their homeland on my wall. I only buy flags from places where I have been. Moreover, I only buy them while I am in the country in am visiting. For me, it makes it more authentic! I've been to 50 countries, but since I started a little late, I don't have 50 flags. I sure hope to get there one day soon! 

The first jazz album I bought was:

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

Music you are listening to now:

James Moody, Young At Heart
John Coltrane, The Ultimate Blue Train (Blue Note)
Thelonius Monk, Straight No Chaser (Columbia)
Dori Caymmi, Kicking Cans (Qwest Records)
Cedar Walton, Roots (Astor Place)

Desert Island picks:

Yellowjackets, Greenhouse (GRP)
Cannonball Adderley, Live In San Francisco (Original Jazz Classics)
Mike Stern, These Times (ESC Records)
Bob Florence Whatever Bubbles Up (Summit)
John Coltrane The Ultimate Blue Trane (Blue Note)
Miles DavisTutu (Warner Brothers)
Leny Andrade Bossa Nova (Estudio Eldorado)
Kenny Garrett Simply Said (Warner Brothers)
James Moody Young At Heart (Warner Brothers)
Dori Caymmi Kicking Cans (Qwest Records)
Dexter Gordon Go (Blue Note)
Art Blakey, Moanin' (Blue Note)
Cedar WaltonRoots (Astor Place)

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

I believe we are waiting on the next John Coltrane... There don't seem to be any major contributions by any one artist from the last 40 years. I believe we are waiting on a major innovator to contribute to this music and lead the way into a future level and a new avenue of jazz.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

The jazz industry, artists, and audience need to embrace ideas from unknown artists. Sometimes jazz is put into a little box and I believe jazz is too big for that.

What is in the near future?

I am working on a new album due out in early 2019 under the title For Lovers Only. The associated single is called "Blessed." Our singles have done really well on jazz radio in the past, so releasing them ahead of the full recording is something I always try to do. The new album blends smooth jazz with rhythm & blues. It has been done before so what I am doing is not new. However, I have heard some projects that didn't quite hit the mark for me. So, I decided to include some friends who play rhythm and blues as part of this project. People included in this project are Michael Henderson, Fred Wesley, Bruce Conte, Phil Upchurch, Tom Grant, and other friends from Kool & The Gang, War, Malo, The Isley Brothers and the list goes on...

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

My greatest fear is making a huge mistake when there is someone in the room who could possibly help move my career forward. I'd hate to lose out on the right opportunity. But, this has not happened. I make it a practice to be well prepared, even when I am headed to a rehearsal.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

"Chubby Wayne" by Kenney Polson—Composed for my grandfather. It includes the Kansas City Shuffle, which is where my roots are from. I was born there! It would also be my way of encouraging others to look back into my history.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

"Bluesette" by Toots Thielemans.

By Day:

I'm a band director.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Band director. I have been one for many years. I have helped a number of musicians (both young and old) prepare for their dream of becoming a performing artist. I think it is fair for me to say that it is time for me to more fully pursue my own dreams as a jazz musician. I've adjusted the trajectory of my career because the professions of band director and a performing artist are not the same.

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

I would like to have dinner with Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Because, I would like to get answers to the following:

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Mekong Bistro
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