Campus News


Legendary Jazz Guitarist, Calvin Keys, Leads Quintet

Legendary Jazz Guitarist, Calvin Keys, Leads Quintet at Soka Performing Arts Center


Aliso Viejo, CA – Calvin Keys Ensemble performs at Soka Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 10, 2017, at 8 p.m. Single tickets are $35 for adults; and $29 for students, seniors and active military families. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $28 each. Purchase tickets online at or by calling 949-480-4ART (4278).

For nearly 50 years jazz guitarist Calvin Keys has been a leader of his own bands, producer of his recordings and on first call for his exceptional style as an accompanist and soloist by many other legends of jazz. For this concert, Keys will be joined by bassist Mark Williams, saxophonist Arthur Maxwell, pianist Keith Saunders and drummer Leon Joyce.

Through the years, Keys has performed with Ray Charles, Donald Byrd, Lou Donaldson, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Carmen McCrea, Gloria Lynn, Jackie Ivory, Jackie Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Eddie Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, George Coleman, Jimmy Witherspoon and Hadley Caliman, to name a few. He also has shared the stage with Motown legend Martha Reeves at San Francisco’s famed Razz Room, as well as the Blues Cruise with Taj Mahal. Not limited to his beloved jazz roots, Keys has also worked in videos with MC Hammer and Luther Vandross. Guitar visionary Pat Metheny, who has been a fan of Keys since the start of his own career and has called Keys “the real deal,” was so moved that he wrote the tune “Calvin’s Keys.”

It was in Keys’ birth city of Omaha that he secretly started to teach himself to play guitar on his uncle’s Gibson, even after being warned away from the instrument. On one occasion his uncle caught him in the act, but he was so impressed that he gave Keys the guitar. At the age of 16, Keys started playing guitar professionally. Soon after, a friend turned him on to Miles Davis and he shifted his direction towards jazz. A move to Los Angeles in 1969 launched another wave of growth as Keys became the guitarist in the house band at the Persian Room with Red Holloway. During this same period, Keys co-led a band with Blue Mitchell and connected with another master organist, Doug Carn. Other highlights of Keys’ Los Angeles period are his work with the great Oscar Brown Jr. at the legendary club Memory Lane and his meeting Ray Charles, with whom he would work on and off until 1995.