Over the past 25 years, Ken Navarro has performed in every major US city and had numerous Top 5 hits at national radio. His music is distributed throughout the world from Japan to Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Britain, Australia, Chile, Brazil, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and even in China. Navarro's 2010 release "Dreaming of Trains" was pre-nominated for the 2011 Grammy awards in 2 categories and his 2008 album The Grace of Summer Light was named the #1 contemporary jazz album of the year at Jazz Times. His impressive discography of 20 top charting albums showcase his appeal to a wide range of listeners with inspiring compositions and superb guitar performances.
For release on April 15, 2014, Navarro has created his 21st album, Ruby Lane, his first ensemble collection in 4 years. Ken's brilliant acoustic and electric guitar work are featured throughout this exciting release. It includes the smooth jazz radio hits "Ruby Lane" and "Running Toward The Sun", a stunning version of the Stevie Wonder classic "Higher Ground", and a song Ken wrote and dedicated to Coretta Scott King and Ethel Kennedy entitled "Kings and Queens". Ruby Lane also features The Scheinbar String Quartet on Ken's beautiful tour de force composition "When The Spirit Speaks". In 2012, Positive Music Records released Ken's The Test Of Time. This album marked a landmark in Ken's musical direction. It is Solo Guitar like you never imagined it. In each of the 12 songs that make up The Test of Time, Navarro delivers a genuine, flawless performance, where all of the melodies, bass lines, harmonies and even percussion are masterfully played simultaneously on just one guitar without any overdubbing. Some of the contemporary classics included are The Police's Message In A Bottle, John Lennon's Imagine, Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman, Pat Metheny's Letter From Home and Santana's Europa.
Ken's 19th CD release Dreaming of Trains was released on March 16, 2010. It received two pre-nominations for the 2011 Grammy awards. Ken's nine new compositions and his signature acoustic and electric guitar work are supported by world class musicians including drummer Joel Rosenblatt (Spyro Gyra, Manhatten Transfer), acoustic and electric bassist Tom Kennedy (Dave Weckl, Al DiMeola), and keyboardist Jay Rowe (Special EFX, Marion Meadows). "Dreaming of Trains" was the follow up to his breakthrough release of 2008, The Grace of Summer Light which was named the #1 Contemporary Jazz CD of 2008 by Jazz Times magazine.
Navarro's 2007 CD The Meeting Place and his 2005 release Love Coloured Soul were in the National Jazz Charts for 62 weeks, reaching #6 in Radio & Records national smooth jazz airplay chart in November of 2005. Love Coloured Soul marked Ken’s return to his own record label, Positive Music Records. Ken’s 2003 release All The Way, and his 2002 CD Slow Dance spawned numerous radio hits including “Bringing Down The House”, “In The Sky Today”, “So Fine” and “Healing Hands”. Ken’s 2000 CD release Island Life scored two hits at smooth jazz radio including "Delicioso," as well as the title track keeping the CD on the airwaves for a solid 52 weeks! 1999's In My Wildest Dreams continues to be one of Ken's top sellers and 1998's live CD & Video Ablaze in Orlando has been acclaimed as one of the best live jazz CDs of the decade. Smooth Sensation, released in 1997, was in the Top 10 of Radio & Records' Smooth Jazz chart for 12 weeks, helping to make the CD the #17 Smooth Jazz album of 1997! Other recent releases from Ken Navarro include his 1996 album, When Night Calls, featuring Eric Marienthal on saxophone, and Christmas Cheer, a holiday album of contemporary jazz guitar and acoustic piano duets.
Ken's 1995 album, Brighter Days, was voted the #9 album of the year by Smooth Jazz radio. Brighter Days heralded a bold step forward for Ken, bringing to the forefront the strong R&B elements that have always been a part of his music, and enlisting a powerhouse of support from featured solo artists including former Rippingtons sax man Brandon Fields. Brighter Days reached the national radio top 5 and held a position in the top 20 for six months in 1995. His 1991 release, After Dark, was selected for screening by the 1991 GRAMMY nominating committee. His successive albums, The Labor of Love (1992), I Can't Complain (1993), and Pride and Joy (1994), all reached the top 5 in national radio, firmly establishing Ken Navarro as a mainstay on Smooth Jazz radio play lists.
Ken began his recording career in Los Angeles as a premier session guitarist, performer and composer, performing and recording with artists as diverse as Doc Severinsen, Nell Carter, John Patitucci, Eric Gale, Vicki Carr, Dave Koz, Ann Jillian and Alex Acuna. In 1990, Ken established his own musical identity with the release of his debut album, The River Flows. With each successive album, Ken has received increasing acclaim and recognition as a leading stylist in Contemporary Jazz.
Ken maintains an active schedule of concert appearances at festivals, clubs, performing arts centers, including The Green Note/Osaka, Japan, The Rams Head/Annapolis, MD, Blues Alley/Washington, DC, Scullers/Boston,MA, Soiled Dove/Denver,CO, PennsLanding/Phila,PA, Kennedy Center,Washington,DC, ChenePark/Detroit,MI, Merriweather Post Pavillion/MD, JVC Jazz Fest (multiple cities), Sunfest/Miami,FL, Jacksonville Jazz Fest, Clearwater Jazz Fest, Pleasure Island Jazz Festival, Winter Park Arts Festival, Thornton Winery/San Diego, CA, KC Spirit Festival, Ruth Eckert PAC/Tampa,FL, Bob Carr PAC/Orlando, FL, Bass PAC/Dallas, TX, and more. where Ken has shared the stage with artists such as Spyro Gyra, Chuck Mangione, Najee, Chris Botti, The Rippingtons, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Jean Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, George Howard, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Keiko Matsui, David Benoit, Boney James and many others.
Ken's contribution to Contemporary and Mainstream Jazz goes beyond his personal artistry. Ken has produced successful albums for Narada/EMI recording artist Eric Darius as well as saxophonist Randy Villars and pianist Jay Rowe to name a few. As founder of Positive Music Records, Ken is responsible for launching and furthering the recording careers of saxophonist Brandon Fields, guitarists Grant Geissman, Thom Rotella and Pat Kelley, and keyboardists Gregg Karukas, Jay Rowe and Marcus Johnson. Ken's vision of a musician's record label has enhanced the genre with over 35 new artists and seventy releases.
Born: Lafayette, Indiana
Now Lives: Ellicott City, MD
Have Lived in: Los Angeles, CA, Madison, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C.
Marital Status: married for 39 years
Parental Status: 2 - a 22 year old daughter and a 26 year old son.
Eye Color: Brown
Hair: Black (and gray)
Favorite Albums: The Koln Concert/Keith Jarrett, Eli & The 13th Confession/Laura Nyro, A Love Supreme/John Coltrane, Secret Story/Pat Metheny and Pet Sounds/Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys
Favorite Song: The Truth Will Always Be/Pat Metheny
Artists Most Admired: Pat Metheny, Laura Nyro, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Brian Wilson, Joni Mitchell, John Coltrane, John Lennon, Neil Young, Carlos Santana, Bill Frisell, Tommy Emmanuel, Keith Jarrett
Favorite Actor: Bill Murray
Favorite Actress: Michelle Pfeiffer
Favorite Movies: Groundhog Day, Field of Dreams, Accidental Tourist, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Godfather 1 & 2.
Favorite Books: The Signal & the Noise, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Mansion On The Hill
Favorite TV Shows: Men Of A Certain Age, Mad Men, Everybody Hates Chris, The Office, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sopranos, The Larry Sanders Show, 30 Rock, Parks & Rec.
Favorite Food: Anything Italian
Favorite Drink: Water
Favorite Vegetable: Carrots
Most Hated Vegetable: Brussel Sprouts (is there anyone who likes these?)
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Number: 7
Favorite Contemporary Jazz Guitarists: Pat Metheny, Jeff Beck, Buzzy Feiten, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton
Motto: Play Don't Worry
Favorite vacation spot: Kelleys Island, Ohio