Keenan McKenzie regularly travels around the US with dance-oriented swing ensembles such as The Mint Julep Jazz Band, Michael Gamble & The Rhythm Serenaders, and The Jonathan Stout Orchestra featuring Hilary Alexander. In the past year, he has performed in Austin, Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, St. Louis, and Parma, Italy. Keenan frequently plays straight-ahead jazz with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra and delivers energetic party music with The Shakedown. He also enjoys playing contra dances with The McKenzies from time to time, providing an eclectic mix of old-time, Irish, ragtime and more!
In December 2017, Keenan released his first album of original material, entitled Forged in Rhythm. A love letter to the swing dance community, the music has already been DJed around the world and even inspired new choreographed routines! Keenan has also written originals for the Mint Julep Jazz Band, and his jazz ensemble charts have been performed and recorded by collegiate and professional ensembles. These include arrangements of the music of Ryan Kisor, Joel Frahm, Cyrus Chestnut, and Peter Bernstein, all premiered by the artists themselves. Keenan has also served as a transcriber for Heritage Sounds, helping to revive and adapt the repertoire of Chick Webb, Jimmie Lunceford, and Lionel Hampton so it can be played live once more.
Keenan has been teaching for over a decade, and maintains a vibrant studio of private students in the North Carolina Triangle, where he resides. He is the saxophone instructor at North Carolina State University, and also offers individual clinics on improvisation, theory and performing. He directed the Gate City New Horizons Jazz Band for eight years, and has experience working with students of all ages. Keenan McKenzie earned a B.M. in Jazz Studies from UNC Greensboro, where he studied with Dr. Steven Stusek and Chad Eby. He also holds a M.M. from NC Central University, where he worked with Dr. Brian Horton, Dr. Ira Wiggins, and Branford Marsalis.