Charles Lester Music - celebrating the art of improvisational music
Kash Killion

Cello, Contra Bass, & Serangi

Born in Alton, Illinois (Miles Davis' home town), Kash was raised listening to jazz-his brother was a jazz trumpeter-in the very fertile music scene in and around East St. Louis, Illinois. Drawn first to clarinet, then voice, flute, electric guitar and electric bass, Kash started performing professionally at age ten.

Through high school he was working in doo-wop, funk, soul, rock and church groups. In 1974, he entered college and started studying classical contrabass. Soon he was also studying violin and cello. Moving to L.A. City College in 1976, piano giant Horace Tapscott became his mentor and Kash played bass in Tapscott's Ark Orchestra; drummer Billy Higgins was part of that scene, too. This rekindled his interest in straight ahead jazz. On the straight ahead jazz front, Kash has played with great players like Donald Byrd, George Cables, Billy Higgins, Bobby Hutcherson, James Newton, and Billy Bang.

Kash studied music at the University of Southern California and earned a degree in Jazz Composition and Performance at Antioch University. He studied the classical contra bass with David Young of the Texas Symphony, and Emile Jorso of the Oakland Symphony, as well as cello with Marilyn Blanc of the Oakland Symphony. Mr. Killion was the "artist in residence" at the San Francisco Exploratorium where he composed and conducted a creative chamber piece performed by San Francisco based musicians, and has taught violin and cello in the San Francisco and Oakland elementary schools and has lectured North Carolina Central University and Duke University on the history of string instruments the evolution of jazz based music. He also provides private instruction in music theory and instrument technique on the cello and contrabass. Kash has performed at the Herbst Theater and Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco, the Lincoln Center and Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall) in New York, as well as several jazz festivals in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.

Kash's interest in avant garde jazz was ignited by Sun Ra in 1978-and further heightened by meeting and playing with Pharoah Sanders. In L.A. Kash was playing bass as his primary instrument, but getting more and more interested in cello. When he moved to the Bay Area in 1984, he switched almost entirely to cello, mainly because of the freedom to use it in roles as diverse as a horn or a guitar or a bass.
In the Bay Area he started playing and touring with a number of avant-garde jazz groups, notably one with Paul Murphy, Glen Spearman and India Cook. That was the beginning of his long musical association with Paul Murphy. Kash has played extensively in avant garde circles with such icons as Cecil Taylor, John Zorn, Julius Hemphill, Reggie Workman, Sun Ra, Butch Morris and George Lewis. More recently, he has recorded and performed with improvisational musicians Joel Futterman and Ike Levin.

Kash also has a deep interest in world music. He studied with the great Indian musician, Ali Akbar Khan, and has toured and recorded with his orchestra. He has recorded Afro-Cuban music with several salsa groups. He composes and performs for both dance troupes and poets. Major poets he has accompanied including Amiri Baraka, Alice Walker, Quincy Troupe, Shirley Le Flore and Jessica Hagdorm.