Kenwood’s love for music began at a very early age. He was born in Brooklyn NY to Gloria and Fred Dennard who were professional singers trained at Julliard School of Music. They performed as a singing duo all over the world, touring with the USO. Kenwood began playing piano at the age of 3 and picked up drums at age 9 when his sister Dale got a drum set.
Kenwood’s mother opened a music school in Harlem called Manna House Jazz Workshops in 1967. Kenwood would play his drums in the basement and began his long career as a teacher there when he was 11 years old. Kenwood taught Will Calhoun (Living Color), Kim Plainfield,(Tania Maria) Smitty Smith (Jay Lenno Show) and many others while he was a teacher at his mother’s school. Kenwood still does benefit workshops and concerts for Manna House to this day to help support this non profit organization.
In 1968 Kenwood attended David Mannes School where he studied ear training, theory, and piano. In 1971 he furthered his studies at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied classical percussion with Jim Price.
Kenwood graduated from Dalton High School at age 17 and enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston the same year. There he majored in composition and performance, his principal instrument was drums, which he studied with Gary Chaffee and Alan Dawson. During his college years, Kenwood also made time to study theory with Nadja Boulanger during the summer of 1975 in Fontainebleu, France.
Kenwood graduated Magna Cum Laude from Berklee in 1976 and recorded his first record, the acclaimed Joyous Lake, with Pat Martino that very same year.
Kenwood Dennard has enjoyed a multifaceted, star-studded career as a performer, recording artist, and educator. He has toured the world and performed with such greats as Jaco Pastorius, George Clinton, Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Pat Martino, Maceo Parker, Stanley Jordan, Gil Evans Orchestra, Wayne Shorter, Robin Eubanks, Esperanza Spaulding, Tal Wilkenfeld, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Bobby McFerrin, Amad Jamal, Larry Coryell, Pharoh Saunders, Howard Johnson, Taj Mahal, Whitney Houston, Tito Puente, Diane Reeves, Wayne Shorter, The Allman Brother's Band, Warren Haynes and Joe Zawinul; and led the Meta-Funk All-Stars, the Real Thing, and Quintessence.
His numerous recordings include Grammy nominated Sting's Nothing Like the Sun, Pat Martino's Joyous Lake, Brand X Livestock (I and II), Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth Band 1983 Japan Tour featuring Kazumi Watanabe, Bushrock Reset, Maceo Parker's Life on Planet Groove, Stanley Jordan's Friends, Naicin High Bias , Vanessa Williams's The Sweetest Days, and Live at Montreux with Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. His first solo record “Just Advance” came out in 1991 and his latest release, "Show No Fear", was released on Groove Economy Records in the fall of 2018.
Kenwood is also well known as a pioneer of mastering simultaneous multi instrumental live performance, playing 2 keyboards, drums and singing all at once, what he refers to as Pansonic Coordination. “After playing with Pat Martino and Brand X, I decided to concentrate on developing the MRO. My first concert was in 1979, where I played three keyboards and drums at the same time. I eventually developed it to the point where I could play eight ostinatos at the same time, and that led to playing all the parts of a song where I could sound like an entire band."
Over the past couple of years, Kenwood has performed with Ernie Isley, Gill Evans Orchestra, Stanley Jordan Trio, Larry Coryell, Aydin Essin, Tiger Okoshi, Moe, The Funky Meters, Grey Boy Allstars, Karl Densen's Tiny Universe, String Cheese Incident, Umphree's McGee, The Mike Dillon Band, Ryan Montbleu Band, Max Creek and Phish to name a few. He's played at the Gathering of the Vibes, High Sierra Music Festival, Moe.down, Strangecreek, Peach Fest and Wormtown. He’s performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall and countless others venues in 28 countries across the globe
Kenwood was an artist-in-residence and taught free jazz at the New School in New York. He was also one of the founders of The Drummer's Collective in NYC.
Kenwood returned to Berklee in 1996 as a full time associate professor teaching private percussion lessons, ensembles (Jimi Hendrix and James Brown), and labs including polyrhythms, funk lab and afro-cuban percussion. In the fall of 2013, he was promoted to full professorship.
He’s given drum lectures and master classes all over the world, including the University of Colorado Boulder, Juliard, UC Davis, Longe, Miami University, NYU and Long Island University. He has been a featured performer at PASIC, Modern Drummer Festival and multiple Zildjian days. He has been a teacher at Tiger Okoshi’s Groove Camp in Sapporo Japan and also hosts Kenwood MetaJam Camp each summer in New Hampshire.
Celebrating 23 years at Berklee, he has trained countless successful musicians (Living Color, Christian Scott, Primus, Spin Doctors, P-Funk, Def Leppard, Lettuce, Animals as Leaders, Consider the Source, Medeski, Martin and Wood and countless others) his method at Berklee and around the world.