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. During quarantine, he has organized remote collaborations and focused on recording from his home studio.
Two of Keenan's compositions, "Trebuchet" and "Buffalo Convention," were recently selected to appear in upcoming film and television. The latter appears on Forged in Rhythm, his first 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 is the saxophone instructor at North Carolina State University, and he also maintains a vibrant studio of private students in Durham, NC. His students have participated in regional honors bands and even achieved national recognition at the Essentially Ellington competition in New York. Keenan has been teaching for 12 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.