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Liz Kinnon Makes Jazz Debut with 'Ms. Behavin'

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Raising children can be a full-time job. For keyboardist, composer and arranger Liz Kinnon, raising children while pursuing a career in jazz music was like having two full-time jobs. As VOA's Doug Levine tells us, Liz's two sons inspired her to complete her first solo CD.

Liz Kinnon is no stranger to the Southern California jazz scene. She's performed with many Los Angeles-area jazz groups, and has orchestrated music for television and film, while keeping a year-round schedule as a keyboard instructor.

Liz thought she had done it all until a group she was playing in made her want to record an album. As Liz explains, finishing it was another story.

"When I started the CD 10 years ago I was working in a Brazilian jazz group with a wonderful Brazilian bass player named Octavio Bailly. And we really had a good time," Kinnon says. "We were working all the time and we were really tight [close]. I was doing some writing at that time and I thought, 'This is the opportunity to record this rhythm section.' Even though we weren't really playing many of my tunes, it was a trio, it was a group, and we understood each other's sense of time. We just knew each other's playing so well I wanted to document that with my own music.

"I think that the business end of it on my end was lacking a little bit," she adds. "I didn't really understand how to approach these people. I got a little discouraged, and I set it aside. But I still believed in the music and anybody that heard it thought it was great. They would say, 'So now what are you going to do?' And I would say 'I don't really know,' because my mind was in the music and it wasn't in the business."

Liz dedicated a solo piano piece to her sons, Kevin and Eric. Without them, Liz says there probably would be no album.

"Because of my kids, that may have motivated me to finish it," she explains. "Because, I thought, 'I really need to have something of my own, not what I've done for other people [and] what they wanted me to do, but something of my own that my kids will be able to have forever and know this is what mom did, this is mom's music.' I think that was really an inspiration to finish it."

Liz Kinnon recently performed with big band Maiden Voyage at this year's Mary Lou Williams Tribute to Women in Jazz in Washington, D.C. Her arrangement of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" was featured in the program, and it can also be heard on her new CD Ms. Behavin'.

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