Brad Kay, pianist, cornetist, composer and musicologist, has played in and led bands in Los Angeles since 1965, when he began performing at SHAKEY’S PIZZA PARLORS.
Music has been his consuming passion since childhood, starting with ragtime, developing into a love for all great American music, especially the hot jazz of the 1920s. He was a sideman in the MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO (1974-77); led his own band, THE MAJESTIC DANCE ORCHESTRA (1975-79, 1991-94), which recreated orchestral music of the 20s and 30s. In his septet, THE UPTOWN CURMUDGEONS OF SWING (1995-97), he evoked some of the great pianists of the era such as Fats , Duke Ellington and George Gershwin (among many), but was essentially himself in his heatedly optimistic solos.
Classic ragtime was Brad’s first inspiration, and his entree into composing. A folio and of some of Brad’s original ragtime compositions, “SEVEN RAGS” appeared in 1994.
One of his more curious composing projects was providing background music for celebrated writer HARLAN ELLISON’S reading of his famous short story, JEFFTY IS FIVE.
Brad has arranged and performed for film soundtracks, including Martin Brest’s “HOT ,” (1976); Richard Elfman’s “THE FORBIDDEN ZONE” (1982); Tim Burton’s “NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS” (1994); and Jon Zeiderman’s “ARTIFACTS” (2001).
As a music researcher, Brad has made several important discoveries, including new and previously overlooked 78 rpm records by BIX BEIDERBECKE and LOUIS ARMSTRONG, as well as the phenomenon of “ACCIDENTAL STEREO,” which resulted in true stereo realizations of music by DUKE ELLINGTON and SIR EDWARD ELGAR, among others, recorded in the early 30s! He has produced LP and CD reissues of great and overlooked artists such as vaudevillian JANE GREEN and pioneering bandleader JAMES REESE EUROPE. He has contributed to many reissue CDs out of his vast collection of original 78s.
Since 1997, he has led a piano trio, plays cornet and piano and records with JANET KLEIN AND HER PARLOR BOYS. His major passion these days has been composing, racking up over 1,000 pieces since November, 1998. Some of the best of these are heard on his debut album of piano music, “WE GOTTA START MEETING LIKE THIS” (2000).
Currently, Brad is developing his solo entertaining ability, performing Sunday afternoons at the UNURBAN CAFE in Santa Monica. He plays and sings from a vast repertoire of the century’s popular music, veering from vaudeville routines to romantic ballads to hot instrumentals, lacing them together with wit and a powerful yen to delight his audience.
Brad collaborated with the late beloved singer SUSANNAH McCORKLE on an album of meditation/healing piano music. The album is dedicated to her memory.
Brad has also conducted seminars on jazz and early pop music for ELDER HOSTEL and has done volunteer gigs for community programs such as ANGEL’S FLIGHT.