K.C. jazz veteran Ben Kynard dead at 92

July 8, 2012 at 1:34 PM
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KANSAS CITY, Mo., July 8 (UPI) -- Saxophonist Ben Kynard, who wrote the jazz standard "Red Top," died in his hometown of Kansas City at the age of 92, a friend said.

Kynard, a member of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra after World War II, died in hospice of complications from a recent stroke.

"He was one of America's greats … and a wonderful guy," longtime friend Luqman Hamza told the Kansas City Star. "He was a fine writer."

The Arkansas-born Kynard broke into the famed Kansas City jazz scene as a teenager in the late 1930s and played for Hampton's band from 1946-1953 after a stint as a musician in the U.S. Army. It was while touring with Hampton that he penned "Red Top," which he shared the writing credit with Hampton.

Kynard admitted he may not have been the best pure musician in the Hampton orchestra, but he made up for it with an ability to quickly learn new music and always showing up on time.

After parting ways with Hampton, Kynard spent 38 years with the U.S. Postal Service while playing jazz at night.

The Star said a memorial jam session would be held Friday at Watkins Heritage Chapel followed by the funeral Saturday.

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