Kim Pensyl is a multi-instrumentalist. He played piano with nine years, trumpet at twelve and later in a school band also bass. His favorite instrument is still the piano. No wonder, he is proud owner of a nine-foot Steinway piano, earlier resided in the home of the great Vladimir Horowitz. Kim started his solo career with the critical acclaimed Pensyl Sketches 1 (1988), 2 (1989), & 3 (1990) and A Kim Pensyl Christmas in 1989, all released by Optimism. On his next label GRP he delivered 3 Day Weekend (1991), Eyes Of Wonder (1993) and the re-release of his Christmas album (1992). When You Were Mine (1994) and Under The Influence (1996) followed on Shanachie, Quiet Cafe (1998) and Places I've Been (1999) on Fahrenheit and At The Moment (2001) on Lightyear.
While most of his earlier albums are in the smooth jazz genre, Kim decided to change his lead instrument from piano to trumpet and to concentrate on jazz, what was his original intention and musical education. Places I've Been is settled in contemporary jazz, while At The Moment was the final step to jazz. When Katie Smiles (2008) is Kim's return to contemporary jazz and to the piano.
Pensyl's piano and keyboards are supported by the bass (Andy Woodson), drums (Reggie Jackson), electric and acoustic guitars (Kevin Turner) and percussion (Jim Ed Cobbs). The title song When Katie Smiles showcases Kim Pensyl in full swing. The accentuated piano melody is answered by Kevin's guitar.
Slap Happy means buoyantly or recklessly carefree or foolish (Merriam Webster). Musically transferred it's relaxed improvised performance around a theme. Where'd Love Go? has a classic attitude in the style of Chopin. A sweet ballade, the ingenious instrumental answer to The Supreme's flat lyrics.
Here Comes The Sun, oh no The Rain. Like raindrops notes are falling on your head. While Kim always performs on a melodic path, Kevin explores some improvisational ground. Pensyl's great love of music which he shares as integral part of the Jazz studies of the University of Cincinnati finds its congenial expression in his music like Grand Lake. An awesome melody in highest professionalism.
Offside contemporary trends in music Kim Pensyl shows in Beside The Shallow Pond his way to perform contemporary jazz. He stays true to himself and his musical principle. Gentlewind Dr. is named for the street on which the artist lives. In musical notes Kim describes the busy city life.
On Summer Days we can listen to an unusual duet between Kim's piano and Andy Woodson's bass. Friends of the Rhodes will love Kim's addition and also the romantic guitar enchants the audience. Far away from eccentricity Kim plays his piano on Once Again in simple elegance.
Critics often acclaim Pensyl's lyrical piano poetry. On This Day is a good example for his captivating piano magic. Love Comes First reveals more of Kim's emotional side. "As on all my albums, When Katie Smiles is about communicating feelings born of my life experiences. This makes each album something very personal, emotional and expressive, but it also makes me a bit apprehensive since I put myself in such a vulnerable position by sharing my feelings so openly."
When Katie Smiles is Kim Pensyl's very personal gift of musical feelings. Eternal Music which withstands the ravages of time.
Blessed with a bountiful life of jazz, music, love, family and education, pianist Kim Pensyl united his passions in a celebration of intimately inspired melodies and robust rhythm tracks on his fourteenth album, When Katie Smiles, scheduled for release October 28th from Penton Music Productions. The eleven new compositions written, arranged and produced by Pensyl mark his return to contemporary jazz where he previously charted four top 10 Billboard contemporary jazz albums. Powered by a deep bass and thick drum beats, the first single that was just serviced to radio, "Slap Happy" boasts Pensyl's nimble contra piano melodies in the foreground while he peppers the background with haunting keyboard fills.
A labor of love like his previous releases, When Katie Smiles finds Pensyl poignantly relishing mundane pleasures sparked from the simple give and take exchanges between people. He infuses his music with the same outlook by allowing his talented quartet to interact and improvise spawning moments of spontaneous splendor. His melodies are joyous, contemplative, heartfelt and eloquent, thoughtfully yet organically given space to breathe, unfold and flow in uncluttered arrangements. The production sounds live and warm as Pensyl's piano and keyboards are enriched yet never out-muscled by the bass (Andy Woodson), drums (Reggie Jackson), electric and acoustic guitars (Kevin Turner) or percussion (Jim Ed Cobbs). In addition to the single, spotlight selections include the snappy title track that opens the collection, the beautiful and audaciously arranged "Where'd Love Go?," the exquisite and expansive "Grand Lake," the inviting and homey "Gentlewind Dr.," and "Love Comes First," which closes the album in a cinematically sweet mood.
"As on all my albums, When Katie Smiles is about communicating feelings born of my life experiences. This makes each album something very personal, emotional and expressive, but it also makes me a bit apprehensive since I put myself in such a vulnerable position by sharing my feelings so openly. However, the chance to communicate deeply with listeners is certainly worth the risk. It creates a bond of understanding that I treasure," explained Pensyl. "My music is a positive light, deeply committed, and is offered with sincerity in the hope it will bring joy to others by sharing part of my life."
Pensyl's lust for music was born in the heart of the Columbus, Ohio native during the musical heyday of the late 1960's and early 1970's. He first picked up the trumpet and extensively studied composition, arranging, production, engineering and performing. He explored genres of music with fervor from jazz, big band, chamber and orchestral to rock, R&B and pop. After graduating The Ohio State University School of Music with honors, Pensyl moved to Southern California where he earned a Master's degree in composition. He returned to Columbus after gaining valuable experience on the road performing and writing arrangements for various touring groups. Pensyl captained his own band at local gigs and also played solo piano dates. This led to the recording of his debut album, Pensyl Sketches #1, which was released twenty years ago. In 1989, ASCAP named him Best New Jazz Writer and two years later, NARM selected Pensyl Sketches #3 as Jazz Album of the Year. Twice Pensyl made Billboard's top 20 Contemporary Jazz Artists of the Year. The dedicated family man who still wields the trumpet and piano has recorded with Toots Thielemans, Joey Calderazzo, Steve Rodby, Chieli Minucci, Alex Acuna, Adam Nussbaum, Andy Narell, Chuck Bergeron and Will Kennedy among others. He's toured extensively throughout the world and has performed with his band on PBS, BET Jazz and Mexico TV. His albums have been diverse collections of modern acoustic jazz, contemporary jazz, solo piano renderings and even Christmas music.
Remaining a wide-eyed student of music himself, Pensyl took on the role of teacher in 2000 when he accepted a faculty position at The Ohio State University. Four years later, he joined the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where he is an integral part of the Jazz Studies program. Pensyl writes for and performs with guest artists at the university such as Arturo Sandoval, Bob Mintzer and Terri Lyne Carrington. He enjoys sharing his immense knowledge, vast experience and great love of music with his students. Enthused and committed to challenging himself in his writing and performance, Pensyl plays concerts regularly in Ohio and is anxious to take the band out on the national circuit in support of When Katie Smiles.