Smith Kenn

When the family move to the south-side of Chicago in 1975, Smith began his guitar studies at age 13 with a visit to the local music store purchasing two Mel Bay books. In 1977, the family moved to Maywood, Illinois, were at age 16 he began classical studies with guitarist Bruce Walters for a year, and later continue studies at Jack Cecchini Studio in Chicago till 1982.

While attending Proviso East High School, he played electric guitar and timpani in the Proviso Township Orchestra and guitar and bass in the Proviso East High School jazz band, were he received the Louis Armstrong Award for Outstanding Jazz Improvisation during his senior year

In 1982, Kenn began his career teaching guitar at Robinson's Music Academy in his home town of Maywood, Illinois, as well as performing with local funk and fusion bands in said town and the Chicago area. All while attending Columbia College of Chicago, studying music management and production. In 1987 he attend the American Conservatory of Music where he studied jazz guitar and composition. In between those years of teaching, performing and study, Kenn became a avid fan of progressive rock and fusion and developing skills as a guitarist, bassist and composer in said styles.

In 1986, he began developing his skills as a freelance guitarist and bassist while performing on Chicago's jazz, blues and rock scene. But it wasn't till 1989 his professional career took off, working as a guitarist with the Chicago Cotton Club Monday Night Open Mic Band. Sharing the stage with many future greats Bernie Mac, R. Kelly and many others who got their start there. It was also where he later formed his first jazz trio and open for jazz greats Shirley Horn, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Cole (brother of Nat King Cole), Najee, Art Porter. As a jazz side man he played with jazz greats Jodie Christian, Guy Fricano, Johnny Frigo, Najee and many others. 1992, he was asked to tour as a guitarist with the famed R&B group the Chi-Lites, and did so until 1994. He then went on to tour and perform with many other great performers in various styles of music as a guitarist or bassist.

As a recording artist for his own label Kenn Smith Music, he has written, produced and performed on all instruments of his five (5) releases.  All are available for download at

 CD Baby, iTunes and other online music sites.

To this day his reputation continues to grow and is recognize as one of the best, most diverse guitarist and bassist in the world. Admired by many for his eclectic versatility as a musician and composer in all areas of music but most notably jazz, jazz fusion, ambient , rock .

As an author and journalist he has written an instruction book for electric bass and numerous articles for online magazines such as Mel Bay Bass Sessions, Bass Musician Magazine and other online publication.

Guitar Studies

Bruce Walters - Classical Guitar

Jack Cecchini - Classical Guitar

Frank Dawson - Jazz Guitar

Frank Rumuro - Jazz Guitar

Bobby Broom - Jazz Guitar 



TWO (2002)

Short Stories (2006)

Samples (2011) 

If I Remember (2012)


Versatile Freelancer

Classical, Reggae, R&B, Soul, Jazz (BeBop/Straight Ahead/Smooth/Fusion), Gospel, Blues, Rock (Classic/Progressive Rock/Alternative Rock/Metal/Neo Classical), Ambient, World, Afro-Cuban, Pop.


Performed with and open for:

The Chicago Sinfonietta


Blues Great Valerie Wellington 

Darryl Jones (Bassist for Rolling Stones)

R. Kelly


Bernie Mac

 Stanley Jordan

 Leni Stern

Louis Satterfield

George (Paco) Patterson

Tom Tom Washington

Soul Vitaminz

Kevin M. Buck

Tim Cunningham

Peter Z

 Johnny Frigo 

Laney Stewart

Art Porter

 Jodie Christian

Stanley Turrentine

Shirley Horn

Bucky Pizzarelli 

Wynton Marsalis

and many more..

Other Credits:

Louis Armstrong Jazz Award

Feature in Bass Player Magazine, 



Listed in the Europe Jazz Network