Kenny Wessel, a versatile, sensitive, and soulful guitarist, and composer, has performed in 28 countries. He toured with revolutionary jazz artist Ornette Coleman for over 12 years as a member of Prime Time, Ornette’s groundbreaking ensemble. Kenny can be heard on Coleman’s CD, Tone Dialing. Performing Ornette’s “Skies of America,” Wessel has appeared with Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. A vital and personal voice on the jazz guitar, he has also worked with Donald Fagen (featured guitar soloist on Fagen’s Morph the Cat), David Liebman, John Abercrombie, Karl Berger, Joe Lovano, Debbie Harry, Laurie Anderson, Gloria Lynne, Adam Rudolph and others from the jazz, pop, and world music spectrum.
Ken has a strong interest in world music, particularly with North Indian music, and he has performed with Debashish Bhattacharya, Karaikudi Mani, V.M. Bhatt, Samir Chatterjee, Steve Gorn, and others. Wessel co-leads a trio with jazz tabla master Badal Roy, Their CD, Daybreak was included in JAZZIZ magazine’s Top 10 Critic’s Picks. Ken and Badal toured India and the U.S. with their composition, “Testimony,” which was commissioned by the Battery Dance Company. Wessel’s most recent CD, Weights & Measures received 4 stars in Downbeat magazine. As a U.S. Jazz Ambassador, Ken has toured South Asia and South America, visiting India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Venezuela.
A dedicated jazz educator, Wessel currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University, City College of New York, in addition to leading ensembles at the New York Jazz Workshop. He also gives clinics and workshops around the world and has taught at universities and festivals, including Oslo Music Academy, ICSMS Festival (Istanbul, Turkey), Mahidol University (Bangkok), Yale University, World Economic Forum (Davos, Switzerland), Manhattan School of Music, and many others.