Kenny Kotwitz accordian and celeste
Kenny Kotwitz was born on April 27, in Milwaukee Wisconsin. At age 5 his parents purchased the first of many accordions to come. Kenny’s Uncle Roy played a “button- box” at all the family gatherings, and encouraged the young accordionist to play along. Frank Cascio of Cascio Music Co., New Berlin, Wisconsin accepted the youngster as a student. It was he, who laid down a solid technical foundation, emphasizing a thorough understanding of harmony and theory. Kenny identifies Frank as the first of two musicians to have had the greatest influence on his career.
By his early teens, Kenny was leading his own band performing in and around Wisconsin. While still in high school, Kenny and his group were flown to Los Angeles to perform on ABC-TV’s “Lawrence Welk Show”. At 19, a good friend of Kenny’s, John Skiba, introduced him to the man who would become his second major influence – Art Van Damme. For the next three years, Art shared the techniques and subtle nuances unique to this international poll-winning jazz accordionist. Many years later they recorded an album together for Pausa Records, “Art Van Damme and Friends”, which featured Art, Kenny, Frank Marocco, Pete Jolly, Chuck Berghofer, and Jeff Hamilton.
Kenny moved to California after his discharge from the U.S. Army as a soloist with the NORAD Band. After a short stint conducting for the Mills Bros. Kenny met his future wife, singer Mary McDermott. After working together for several years in Wisconsin and California Kenny proposed to her and they were married. They moved to Los Angeles where they currently reside and have a beautiful daughter, Kimberly, who works in the advertising businessl. Mary can be heard on 3 of Kenny’s CDs: “Front Street,” “The Moon Is Blue,” and Reflections On Christmas.
Kenny has been busy as composer, arranger, and keyboardist as well as accordionist. He has been recording music for motion pictures, television, CDs, as well as commercials,commercial jingles. He has worked with the best composers, singers, and instrumentalists. Michel Legrand, Dave Grusin, Johnny Mercer, Johnny Mandel, Alf Clausen, Danny Elfman, and Alan Sylvestri, to name a few. But appreciation for Kenny’s musical style and talent extend beyond the U.S. border. He has performed around the world, playing concerts in Finland, Switzerland, Italy, and France. While working in Paris at the “New Morning” jazz club, Kenny recorded a CD called “Cordes Et Lames +1 Accordion Madness” with accordionist Francis Varis. Kenny has also played in Guatemala City and in Mexico City.
He has also been on The Tonight Show, The Today Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Steve Allen Show, Art Linkletter’s House Party. He has played live at Carnagie Hall and The Hollywood Bowl.
As a musician, Kenny has slowly added color, texture, contour and shading to his musical “palette” – the result is
a feel, form, and unique signature-sound.