Keenan McKenzie regularly travels across 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 recent years, he has also been fortunate to perform in Italy, South Korea, Slovenia, and France, Keenan frequently plays straight-ahead jazz with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra and delivers energetic party music with The Shakedown. His own band, the Riffers, plays for dances, concerts, and private events.
Two of Keenan's compositions, "Trebuchet" and "Buffalo Convention," have appeared in film and television. The latter appears on Forged in Rhythm, his debut album of original material, released in 2017. His second solo project, A Bull City Holiday, was released in 2019. With 11 original holiday songs, the album celebrates North Carolina's expansive talent, with nearly 30 musicians from the state. Keenan has also written originals for the Mint Julep Jazz Band, and his large ensemble charts have been performed and recorded by collegiate and professional bands. These include arrangements of the music of Ryan Kisor, Joel Frahm, Cyrus Chestnut, and Peter Bernstein, all premiered with the artists themselves. Keenan has also served as a transcriber for Heritage Sounds, reviving the repertoire of Chick Webb, Jimmie Lunceford, and Lionel Hampton so it can be played live once more.
Keenan McKenzie teaches saxophone, graduate jazz arranging, and music theory at North Carolina Central University, where he also directs one of the jazz ensembles. He has also taught saxophone at North Carolina State University since 2016. His private students have participated in regional honors bands and even achieved national recognition at Essentially Ellington and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. Keenan has been teaching for 14 years, and has experience working with students of all ages. He holds a B.M. in Jazz Studies from UNC Greensboro, where he studied with Dr. Steven Stusek and Chad Eby. He also earned a M.M. from NC Central University, where he worked with Dr. Brian Horton, Dr. Ira Wiggins, and Branford Marsalis.