KANSAS CITY, Mo. - One of the last living links to Kansas City’s jazz heyday -– saxophonist Ben Kynard -- died Thursday at the ripe, old age of 92.
Kynard grew up in Kansas City, Kan., and played with Lionel Hampton’s big band, among others. Kynard was a member of the Hampton band when in 1946 he wrote the song “Red Top,” an instrumental tune that has since become a part of many jazz and blues bands’ repertoire.
After leaving Hampton’s band, Kynard performed around Kansas City with Oliver Todd’s Hottentots, among other groups. He also performed at many clubs in the 18th and Vine jazz district.
In addition to his music career, Kynard was a decorated veteran of World War II and worked for 30 years as a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier.
Kynard was a charter member of the American Federation of Musicians 34-62 and the Mutual Musicians Foundation. He was among the original class of 38 members of the Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz.
He is survived by his wife, Joyce Kynard, a son, Brett Kynard and a daughter, Carmen.
There will be a visitation and celebration of his life, complete with a jazz jam session, tribute and repast, from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 13, at Watkins Heritage Chapel, 4000 Brush Creek Blvd. Call (816) 861-3030 for more information on the visitation.
A funeral is set for 10 a.m. Saturday July 14, at St. Augustine Episcopal Church, 2732 Benton Blvd. Call (816) 921-8534 for more information on the funeral.
Listen to King Pleasure and Betty Carter perform “Red Top,” written by Ben Kynard.
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