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All Music Guide:
A fine pop-jazz keyboardist, trumpeter, and popular attraction on the "contemporary jazz" circuit, Kim Pensyl has recorded a long string of best-selling sets for such labels as Optimism, GRP, and Shanachie. Early on he played a variety of instruments, including trumpet, from age 12 and electric bass in a rock group before settling on keyboards. Pensyl attended Ohio State University, playing with the OSU jazz band. After earning a degree from the Eastman School of Music and attending Cal State Northridge, Pensyl worked in the Los Angeles area with a wide variety of bands including those led by Al Hirt, Don Ellis, Hubert Laws, Gerald Wilson, and Louie Bellson; he even played trumpet with Guy Lombardo. After a few years of studio work, in 1988 (when he began his solo career and recorded his first set as a leader) Pensyl had his style together, playing what could be called atmospheric lite jazz.
Released in 1988, 1989, and 1990, Pensyl Sketches, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3 all sold quite well; the former two sets were recorded with Pensyl as the only musician. During the remainder of the 90s and into the new millennium, Pensyl began throwing a few curve balls at his listeners, including 1993s piano-synth holiday outing A Kim Pensyl Christmas; 1996s Under the Influence, with Pensyl interpreting some of his pop and R&B favorites; 1998s Quiet Cafe, which brought his trumpet playing more to the fore; and 2001s At the Moment, which found Pensyl taking on the mantle of trumpeter even more strongly, in a hard bop setting. Released in 2008, When Katie Smiles featured Pensyl at the Steinway for a set of smooth jazz-influenced originals.
Kim Pensyl is a pop-jazz and New Age music keyboardist. He attended Ohio State University, and the University of California, Northridge for graduate school and had several CDs produced by Shanachie Records. He has worked in bands with Al Hirt, Don Ellis, Hubert Laws, Gerald Wilson, and Guy Lombardo. He is currently part of the Jazz Studies Department faculty at the College-Conservatory of Music (part of the University of Cincinnati).
Kim Pensyl is a prolific jazz recording artist, composer and arranger who has twice been named one of Billboard’s Top-20 Contemporary Jazz Artists of the Year. A pianist and trumpeter, he has had four Top-10 albums on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. He has recorded with jazz legends such as Toots Thielemans, and modern greats like Joey Calderazzo, Bob Mintzer, Chiele Minucci, Andy Narell, Will Kennedy, Steve Rodby, and Alex Acuna. He has performed at such esteemed jazz venues as The Blue Note, Blues Alley, Caravan of Dreams, Scullers, Beacon Theatre, and Great American Music Hall. He has also appeared at the Clearwater Jazz Festival, Sunfest, Summerfest, Stone Mountain Jazz Festival, and Pacific Jazz Festival among others. Also, Kim has toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra and Acoustic Alchemy. He has more than 100 published works recorded and over 150 compositions and arrangements in his catalog. Kim is currently teaching jazz studies at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He is the featured artist in the WJZA Smooth Jazz Trio around Central Ohio and also performs at various clubs and concerts. In addition, he performs with the faculty and guest artists at CCM, such as Arturo Sandoval, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Mulgrew Miller among others, along with several big bands in the Cincinnati area.