(Kenneth Steven), bassist. b. Patchogue, NY, October 27, 1952. Son of Anna Filiano (born Giuliano; May 19, 1930) and Leonard Filiano (July 12, 1930), both of New York. Brother of James Filiano (20 May 1954; an M.D., also play ssaxophone), Diana Filiano Dana (9 Dec 1961; plays guitar), and Gregory Filiano (24 July 1964; plays oboe).
Ken began trumpet studies at the age of nine and played in bands throughout grammar school and high school. In his sophomore of high school, while Ken was at home recovering from an illness, his band director sent over a copy of the Ornette Coleman/Gunther Schuller record, “Jazz Abstractions.” Upon hearing the freedom expressed within the music, Ken abandoned plans to study oceanography and decided to devote his life to music. The following summer, Ken and his brother, Jim (who played saxophone), met the composer David Amram, who invited the brothers to weekend jam sessions at Amram’s house on Fire Island, NY. Here, Ken had the great fortune to play with the likes of Pepper Adams and Elvin Jones. Strongly influenced by these great players and by Amram’s record, “No More Walls,” Ken was increasingly inspired to explore the universe of music.
After graduating from high school, Ken attended Syracuse University in 1970, where he studied trumpet with Rudolph Nashan (principal trumpet with Syracuse Symphony), theory/composition with Professor Howard Boatwright and Gregory Levin, and electronic music and composition with Dr. Franklin Morris. During his senior year, an injury forced Ken to take time off from playing. One afternoon, wanting to join some friends in a session and unable to play trumpet, Ken picked up a bass. Although he had never played bass, the instrument felt so right in his hands that he felt compelled to undertake serious study, and never returned to trumpet. Ken’s bass studies began with V. Stuart Wheeler, who was a wealth of information in both the classical and jazz traditions. After four years of study with Wheeler and playing with the pianist Frankie Stagnitta (who had a strong influence on Ken’s jazz playing), Ken graduated from Syracuse University in 1978, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Music. During the next few years, Ken was principal bassist with the Utica Symphony, played/studied with local guitar legend Marcus Curry, and played with numerous other regional artists.
In 1979 Ken moved to Concord, NH to work with a dinner theatre group, before moving to Boston, MA, where he studied improvisation and species counterpoint with Dr. Avram David (1980 and 1982). While in Boston, Ken was also busy playing. He met trumpeter/composer Mark Harvey in 1980, and became involved with Mark’s large jazz orchestra, Aardvark; this musical relationship continues into the present. Through his involvement with Aardvark, Ken developed long lasting relationships with Boston musicians including Peter Bloom, Craig Ellis, and John Damian, and was part of a trio with the pianist Mark Polishook and drummer Grover Mooney. Ken was also a member of saxophonist Arnie Cheatham’s group, SEARCH; the group (including pianist Bruce Katz, drummers Hollis Headrick and, later, Nick Prout) recorded and toured, giving concerts and clinics throughout New England, playing Cheatham’s orginal compositions and arrangements of jazz standards.
In Boston, while playing with the pianist Joe Mulholland, Ken met the saxophonist Steve Adams. The two also played together in a group led by the vibraphonist/pianist Gust Tsilis, and in another with Grover Mooney. During this period, Ken and Steve began playing as a duo and have continued performing, recording, and touring in the U.S.A. and Europe ever since. Filiano and Adams have also collaborated, in concerts and on recordings, with Vinny Golia’s Large Ensemble, and with the Lisbon Improvisational Players (LIP), and Ken has appeared as a guest artist with the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, of which Adams is a member.
Ken relocated to Venice, CA in 1982, and commuted to San Diego to study bass with Bertram Turetsky (1982-87), at first privately and then as part of his master’s program at the University of California, San Diego; these studies included both classical bass and improvisation. While enrolled at UCSD he also had the opportunity to study with John Silber (sonics & improvisation), and later transferred to the University of Southern California 1988-89 to continue his bass studies with Dennis Trembly (principal bass with LA Philharmonic). While living in southern California, Ken established a reputation as a jazz player and free improviser. He also performed with numerous orchestras, chamber groups, and new music ensembles; played with the dance ensemble Rhapsody in Tap; and did studio work. He became especially well known for free playing, and through the gracious invitation of bassist Roberto Miranda, met the multi-reed player Vinny Golia. Through the years, Ken and Vinny have performed and toured in the U.S.A., Canada, and Europe, and made numerous recordings.
Ken’s collaboration with Golia also led to associations with Richard Grossman, poet Dottie Grossman, Bobby Bradford, John Carter, Horace Tapscott, Barre Phillips, Alain Joule, Joelle Leandre, Nels Cline, Alex Cline, Eric von Essen, Jeff Gauthier, Wayne Peet, Bonnie Barnett, and Tina Marsh; Ken has played with her quartet and her large ensemble, The Creative Opportunity Orchestra for a number of years.
During the years Ken spent in Los Angeles, strong musical relationships also developed with Billy Mintz, Bruce Fowler, Steve Fowler, Rob Blakeslee, Tad Weed, Don Preston, Akio Katsuyama, Dee Dee McNeil, Dwight Dickerson, Thomas Tededsco, Frtz Wise, William Jeffery and Hafez Modirzadeh. Ken also worked with Warne Marsh, Kim Richmond, John Gross, Bert Karl, Dick Berk, Bill Perkins, John Heard, Frank Strazzieri, Joey Sellers, Kei Akagi, Mike Garson, Clay Jenkins, Joe Labarbera, Sid Jacobs, Chris Greco, Ray Pizzi, Matt Marucci, Jimmy Cleveland, Sunship Theus, Tod Cochran, Jay Migliori, Chiz Harris and Joe Lettieri.
In 1994 Ken returned to the East Coast, continuing his master’s work at Rutgers University, where he studied with Larry Ridley (jazz bass), Carolyn Davis (classical bass), John Feeney (classical comp.), Kenny Barron (jazz composition), Ted Dunbar (jazz improvisation), Daniel Goode (improvisation/compostion), Ralph Bowen (jazz theory), and was a part time lecturer. He received his Master’s in Music Performance in 1997.
Living in Brooklyn since 1995, Ken has been playing and/or recording with numerous jazz artists including Dom Minasi, Roswell Rudd, Sheila Jordan, Joseph Jarman, Roberta Piket, Frank London, Ted Dunbar, Ralph Bowen, Joe Scianni, Bob Rodriguez, Ronnie Glick, Frank Giasullo, Steve Swell, Lou Grassi, Ursel Schlicht, Paul Smoker, Steve Salerno, Damon Short, Sumi Tonooka, Jay Rosen, Ron Affif, Avram Fefer, Tomas Ulrich, Michael Attias, Andrea Wolper, Fred Hess, Phil Haynes, Herbie Robertson, Mark Taylor, Chris Chalfant, Richard Thompson, Anthony Coleman, Mary LaRose, Jackson Krall, Francois Grillot, Kevin Norton, Greg Bendian, Jorge Sylvester, Biggi Vinkeloe, Peeter Uuskyla, Cecile Broche, Paul Curado, Raul Jaurena, Pablo Ziegler, and Walter Thompson.
Ken has appeared several times as a guest artist in Lisbon, Portugal, performing with LIP (Lisbon Improvising Players), a trio with saxophonist Rodrigo Amado and violinist Carlos Zingaro, and a quartet with Rodrigo Amado, Steve Adams, and drummer Acacio Salero. He has appeared at the Blue Note (Fukuoka, Japan). Since 2000, Ken has been touring Europe several times a year with clarinetist Giora Feidman.
Throughout the years Ken has been interested in collaborations with poets and dancers, originally finding inspiration through his studies in electronic music and composition with Dr. Franklin Morris at Syracuse University. He has collaborated with the poetry of Craig Ellis (Boston,MA), Mark Weber (Albuquerque, NM), Davida Singer (New York, NY), and Judith Sloane (New York); poet/trombonist/composer Bruce Fowler (Los Angeles), Davida Singer (New York), and Judith Sloane (New York); and with dancers Yoshiko Chuma (New York), Pauline de Groot (New York), Bethany Formica (New York), and Gus Solomons, Jr. (New York).
Ken’s orchestral work includes appearances with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, SummerFest Orchestra/Rutgers, Summerfest Chamber Players, Carnegie Hall concert and South American tour with violinist Liana Issakadze and the Georgian Chamber Orchestra, Palm Beach Festival Orchestra, and recording and performances with the Scandinavian Chamber Orchestra. Ken was principal bassist with the Cascade Festival Orchestra (Bend, OR) from 1985 – 2002.
Ken was married to the musicologist Irene Alm (deceased) who was on faculty at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. In 2003, he married the jazz vocalist, Andrea Wolper, with whom he lives in Brooklyn, NY.
- 2002: Ken Filiano Solo Bass, subvenir | Vinny Golia, feeding frenzy | Dom Minasi Trio, Goin’Out Again | Fred Hess, Extended Family | Chris Chalfant, Love and Light
- 2001: Dom Minasi Trio, “Takin’ The Duke Out | Giora Feidman Quartet, Tangoklezmer | The Music of Eric Von Essen, Volume III | Large Music, Large Music 2 | Fred Hess, Going There | Implicate Order Trio, At Seixal | Ursel Schlicht Quartet, IMPLICATE ORDER
- 2000: Roswell Rudd, Broad Strokes | Richard Grossman Trio, Where The Sky Ended | Joe Scianni, one eyed jack | Frank London, Invocations | Tina Marsh & the Bob Rodriguez Trio | Paul Smoker Trio, Mirabile Dictu | Phil Haynes-Herb Robertson Quintet, Brooklyn-Berlin | Large Music, Large Music 1
- 1999: Vinny Golia Quintet, Lineage | Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, The Other Bridge | Bonnie Barnett, Live At Roulette | The AARDVARK Jazz Orchestra, | BethlehemCOUNTERPOINT | Jim Cajacob & Friends, Knee Deep in Paradise | Hollie Baines, A Close Call With Love | Hafez Modirzadeh/Ramin Zoufonoun, The Mystery of Sama
- 1998: Rob Blakeslee Quartet, Spirit of the Times | Frank Giasullo Quartet, Firstlight | Richard Grossman Trio, Even Your Ears | Mark Weber, Time Zone Differential
- 1997: Vinny Golia/Paul Smoker Quartet, Halloween, the Sequel | Mark Harvey & The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, An Aardvark Christmas | Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Psalms & Elegies | Chris Chalfant Trio, All In Good Time | Mark Weber, TIME ZONE DIFFERENTIAL
- 1996: Vinny Golia/Ken Filiano Duo, The Art of Negotiation | Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, Portland 1996 | Anthony Coleman, What Is Jazz? Festival 1996 | Hafez Modirzadeh, The People’s Blues | Paul Smoker/Vinny Golia Quartet, Halloween ’96 | Steve Swell Quartet, Out and About | Live Knitting Factory Recording , What is Jazz?
- 1996 – 1995: Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, Tutto Contare | Vinny Golia Quintet, Against The Grain | Bob Rodriguez Trio, Mist | Don Glandon, Only Believe | Brad Dutz, KRIN | Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Paintings For Jazz Orchestra
- 1994: Steve Adams/Ken Filiano Duo, In Out Side | Richard Grossman Trio, Remember | Vinny Golia Quintet, Regards from Norma Desmond | Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, Commemoration | Bill Perkins Quintet, Frame of Mind | Rob Blakeslee Quintet, Lifeline | Paul Carmen & ESP, Passion
- 1992: Vinny Golia, Joelle Leandre, Ken Filiano, haunting the spirits inside them..
- 1990: Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, Pilgrimage to Obscurity
- 1989: Steve Adams/Ken Filiano Quartet, Anacrusis | Kim Richmond Ensemble, Looking Out Looking In | Vinny Golia Quintet, Out for Blood
- 1986: Steve Adams/Ken Filiano, Hiding Out | Richard Grossman, one . . . two . . . three . . . four . . | John Rapson, Bu-Wah
- 1985: Vinny Golia Quintet, Goin’ Ahead | Arni Cheatham, Romantha: Rumination