Kevin King, the saxophone king


Cameron Krasucki

Kevin King plays the saxophone outside of The Canopy Club on Sept. 20, 2019. King, a graduate of FAA, plays a wide range of instruments, but has been more drawn to the saxophone.

By Nandika Chatterjee, Staff Writer

A man holding a tenor saxophone stood in front of an excited and anxious small crowd. He felt the anticipation of the other musicians who were by his side electrify his nerves. The music began playing, and from the moment he lifted the wooden reed to his mouth, he was lost in the rhythm.

From playing piano at only three years old to jamming out in big house shows with several bands, Kevin King, recent graduate of FAA and a member of the band The Data Waves, is a musical protégée.

“I play saxophone obviously, I also play oboe, clarinet, flute,” he said. “I play like the whole entire woodwind family.”

King explained that initially, he had a hard time maneuvering across the keys. But when he started playing saxophone at the age of six, everything changed for him. His love and appreciation of music blossomed.

“Saxophone is really what bred my love for music; the rest is history,” King said. “So now, I just play music every day, you know, and can’t stop.”

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He also explained that his musical ability does not necessarily come from his family. They do not consist of many musically inclined individuals. However, his household played a lot of music that influenced him to join the art.

“They played a lot of different kinds of, what I call, ‘Black-American’ music,” King said. “Hip-hop, gospel, funk, rock; all types of music. I remember listening to Curtis Mayfield and Aretha Franklin.”

He added that he did not really get exposed to jazz music until he picked up the saxophone and began taking lessons. He also attributes much of his love and passion for music and the saxophone to the values his teacher instilled in him.

“The person that introduced me to jazz music is this woman named Diane Ellis,” he said. “She’s still around, but she had a stroke. She was my first saxophone teacher.”

He also emphasized the fact that he didn’t perfect the saxophone overnight. His current success came from many years of practice.

King describes who he was in high school as being equal parts athlete and musician. However, after joining a jazz scholars program, he became an all-parts musician.

“I was learning how to be a professional, you know, really make money with it and really take my musical ability to the next level,” he said.

When it was time to pick an area to major in at the University, King considered his love for jazz and his musical talent. With that, he decided to major in jazz studies.

However, King explained that being in the academic program was not the most influential part of being in college but rather the experience he got working with other creatives.

“My teachers very much helped me,” he said. “But the academic program didn’t necessarily make me better. Just playing house shows, like every weekend. That gave me so much experience.”

King joined The Data Waves when he was a freshman. He began translating his love for music into performances.

“I wasn’t an original member,” he said. “They (original members) were a band called The Apothecaries. I’ve learned so much from being in that group.”

Shravan Raghuram, recent graduate of the College of Business and the drummer of The Data Waves, described his relationship with King as a unique bond; the two were never short of compliments for each other. He also commented on King’s musical ability.

“There is nobody I would rather share a stage or a recording session with,” Raghuram said.

He also commented on King’s musical ability.

“His ability as a musician goes without saying,” he said. “He’s always been the most dedicated and passionate musician I know. Watching him practice and gig and train for 10+ hours a day is a level of commitment I had never seen before. He makes everyone around him better in every sense of the word.”

Joey Parker, another alumnus in FAA and keyboard player for The Data Waves, said King changed his life when he was at his lowest.

“Even at the worst of my depression, Kevin remained an optimistic force and was so encouraging despite my difficulties,” he said. “No matter what, Kevin always prioritizes kindness above all else — although music is a close second.”

The current member, bassist Aditya Kashyap, agreed with Parker.

“Kevin has a serious work ethic but such a goofy personality, he never fails to make me laugh,” he said. “I think that though Kevin has been playing for a long time and in many different musical settings, he still appreciates the opportunity to play with us.”

“Kevin’s personality is as loud as his playing,” Parker said.


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