For over two decades, Kris Keith has made a name for himself in the local music scene in Columbus, Ohio. His reputation as a strong woodwind doubler and his ability to perform a wide range of musical styles from jazz to classical, from Cuban to Brazilian, from rock to funk, has kept him in high demand as a sideman and session player.
Some of the Columbus groups he performs with regularly include the Paradise Island Band, HooDoo Soul Band, and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Since 1999 Kris has performed in the pit orchestra for over 20 Columbus Broadway Series performances at the Ohio Theater and the Palace Theater. His woodwind doubles include flute, alto flute, piccolo, recorder, penny whistle, and clarinet as well as soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. Kris has worked with major artists including Billy Taylor, Lew Tabackin, Diane Schuur, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney, Aretha Franklin, John Clayton, Andrea Bocelli, Hubert Laws, Mark Levine, Rufus Reid, and Dr. John.
His own projects include:
- La Charanga Tres, a ten-piece orchestra celebrating the music of Cuba
- Trio Classique, featuring classical and baroque chamber music for flute, violin and cello
- Minan-Dya, a jazz ensemble featuring Kris’ original compositions with a focus on American/Latin jazz
- Jazz For Kids, a program designed by Kris and his colleagues to introduce jazz to K-3rd grade students including an artist residency program, "Building the Blues."
After serving three years in the U.S. Army, 283rd Army Band, Ft. Benning, Georgia, Kris Keith attended The Ohio State University, earning his bachelor's degree in flute performance and jazz studies in 1994. As an undergraduate he studied flute with Katherine Borst Jones and Randy Hestor, and jazz improvisation with Gene Walker, Gary Carney, and Hank Marr. He also won the Central Ohio Flute Association Collegiate Division in 1992, and received the Elmhurst Jazz Festival Jazz Solo award in 1994. In 2012 Kris received his master of arts in woodwind pedagogy from Ohio State while serving as a lecturer in the Jazz Studies area. While pursuing his master's degree, Keith studied with woodwind faculty members James Pyne, clarinet; James Hill, saxophone; Robert Sorton, oboe; and Katherine Borst Jones, flute.
In 2008 Mr. Keith received a Franklin County Neighborhood Arts grant for his project "Music Can Heal: A Latin Orchestra and Dance Experience" working with senior citizens, and was recognized as one of Columbus' "Forty Under 40" by Business First.
Kris Keith regularly teaches improvisation at the Ohio State summer Flute Workshop with Katherine Borst Jones. Using his own arrangements for flute choir and rhythm section, Mr. Keith has performed and conducted jazz flute master classes at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and at the University of South Carolina. Since 2010 he has served as the National Flute Association (NFA) Jazz Committee Chair. At the NFA Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana (August 2013), Keith debuted his New Orleans jazz flute parade ensemble, "Krewe of Pan." Along with performing and conducting Kris’ arrangements, this group featured musicians from New Orleans and jazz flutists from all over the United States (including New York and California) and Canada.
Kristopher Keith is the director of The Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble and the Latin Jazz Combo; he resides in Dublin, Ohio. For a list of recordings and schedule of upcoming performances, visit www.kriskeith.com.