Jim Kanas: Jazz Guitarist - Folk Musician
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Jim Kanas swoosh

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jazz specific bio...

long bio...


selected educational credits...

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ed testimonials


The Chicago tribune calls Kanas
" ...a master..."

"[Kanas] ...is a consummate veteran jazz guitarist...Measure after measure, their music is simply a true joy of life! In music, as in life, playing the changes can be challenging. Jimmy and the Swingers embrace it, and these chordmasters navigate without ever getting lost or disoriented on challenging pieces like “Baboo’s Blues.” The result, with its abundant reward, is a spiritual and emotional depth to their music. Joe Pass would be proud of them."
Joe Ross, Bluegrass Now

"In Jim Kanas' playing Doc Watson peacefully coexists with Joe Pass.
Creating a distinct personal style from such disparate influences isn't easy to do. Jim pulls it off with aplomb

Pat Donahue, A Prairie Home Companion

"Jim is a world class guitarist.... I knew right away he was a world class guitarist.”
Victor Wooten

"It's a beautiful CD ("Jimmy and the Swingers"),
beautiful musically, beautiful guitar work.  No doubt through
experience and understanding,
Jim Kanas has become his instrument."

Corky Siegel

"Wonderful festival--Jim Kanas is a monster clinician....I'm impressed."
Lee Tomboulian
Instructor of Jazz Piano and Improvisation
Lawrence University

"Jim Kanas, guitarist, folk musician, multi-instrumentalist, composer, teacher, producer and Illinois Arts Council Artstour artist has won awards and thrilled audiences across genres. Few musicians achieve success in both the jazz and folk realms."
Keisha Smith,

"In Jim Kanas' playing Doc Watson peacefully coexists with Joe Pass. Creating a distinct personal style from
such disparate influences isn't easy
to do. Jim pulls it off with aplomb."

Pat Donahue,
A Prairie Home Companion

"Jim Kanas is one of those all-around good guys and good musicians - lots of fun to work with, and I'm glad we got a chance to play together in Rockford!"
Muriel Anderson

"Jim Kanas is a hot tasty musician with big tone and real swing."
Catfish Kieth




Jim Kanas is a guitarist from Northern Illinois. As a teenager
Jim studied classical music and jazz improvisation and
through educational and other venues found himself in the
company of many jazz performers and educators including
Pat Metheny, George Benson, Gary Burton and Stan Kenton
to name a few. Also, at that time Jim was performing with then
neighboring high school student/saxophonist Bill Evans sat-in
with veteran blues man Eddy Clearwater. Jim won consecutive
awards as a jazz guitarist in the Chicago land area and then
later pursued his love and "hobby" of playing bluegrass, folk and
traditional music. He then once again found himself surrounded by
and jamming with influential musicians such as Steve Goodman,
Corky Siegel, the Nashville Cats, Allison Krause, Harvey Ried,
Jethro Burns and others. Jim broadened out his performance
base to include pedal steel guitar, fiddle, banjo, harmonica,
mandolin, dobro and vocals and toured regionally as a sideman
with many country oriented groups. Jim earned a unique interdisciplinary
music performance degree from Northern Illinois University in
contemporary guitar skills, commercial music and American folk
instruments. Jim Kanas' professional collaborations have included
concerts, recordings and/or performances with other Midwest musicians
such as harmonica/pianist, Howard Levy; violinists, Johnny Frigo
Randy Sabien and Peter Ostroushko; mandolinist, Don Stiernberg;
bassist, Larry Gray; blues man, Eddy Snow; guitarists, Muriel Anderson
and Fareed Haque; percussionist, Rubén P. Alvarez and others.
Jim now spends much time as an artist-in-residence throughout Illinois
with the Illinois Arts Council
and other cultural arts organizations. He is an
Illinois Arts Council Artstour artist and performs and records regularly as
a soloist (singer/multi-instrumentalist), with the Jim Kanas Trio
(folk/bluegrass/western swing) and with the Jim Kanas Jazz Quartet.


short bio for educational programming

Jim Kanas is an American folk musician, jazz guitarist and producer with the Illinois Arts Council's ArtsTour program who has conducted numerous school music residencies for over 20 years. Jim was featured this past Spring on WTTW11, Chicago, PBS "Arts Across Illinois" and has performed at colleges, festivals and broadcast medium throughout Illinois. His American Folk Music Programs trace the development of American music through its ethnical roots and incorporates a large assortment of conventional, homemade and world instruments. Jim Kanas' assemblies, breakout sessions and residencies are interdisciplinary in nature, cross-cultural in tone and highly engaging. Jim is also a certified music K-12 . For more on Jim Kanas' educational and performance programs visit www.jimkanas.com.


introduction for assemblies and educational programming

Jim Kanas is an ArtsTour artist with the Illinois arts council.
He is a performing musician AND a teacher. Jim has been
bringing his assembly program on American music into the
schools for many many years! He has played in concerts,
festivals, on the radio and TV throughout Illinois and lives in
a little town out in the country, in Northern Illinois. Jim was
featured on channel 11/Chicago PBS this past year and
received a National Leadership Award. Boys and girls,
teachers and staff, please welcome Jim Kanas.


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