Kenneth Ascher

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Kenny Ascher
Kenny Ascher.jpg
Kenny Ascher
Background information
Birth nameKenneth Lee Ascher
Born (1944-10-26) October 26, 1944 (age 75)
Washington, D.C.
Genres Big band, jazz, rock, film
Occupation(s)Jazz pianist, composer, arranger, studio musician
Instruments piano

Kenneth Lee Ascher (born October 26, 1944 in Washington, D.C.) is an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger who is active in jazz, rock, classical, and musical theater genres in live venues, recording studios, and cinema production. [1] With Paul Williams, he wrote the song "Rainbow Connection" for The Muppet Movie . Both Williams and Ascher received Oscar nominations for the 1979 Academy Awards for Best Original Song ("Rainbow Connection") and Best Original Score ( The Muppet Movie Soundtrack). The song was also nominated for the Golden Globes for "Best Original Song" that same year.


His work

Ascher's work through the years has included keyboard parts and string arrangements on John Lennon's albums Mind Games , Walls and Bridges and Rock 'n' Roll and Yoko Ono's A Story , music for several songs from Barbra Streisand's remake of A Star Is Born (where he also served as music coordinator), and arrangements for portions of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf's masterpiece Bat Out of Hell (produced by Todd Rundgren). Ascher's own rendition of The Rainbow Connection was featured in the closing credits of The Break-Up (starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston). Ascher is the pianist with the Birdland Big Band, which performs Fridays from 5:15 to 7 at Birdland in New York City. The Birdland Big Band performs The Rainbow Connection, arranged by Lew Anderson.

In the latter 1960s, Ascher played piano and arranged for the Woody Herman Orchestra. Herman hired Ascher on the advice of Frank Foster to replace Nat Pierce, who had departed. [2] [3] Ascher has been a member of ASCAP since 1968.

Selected compositions

Selected discography

As leader

As arranger

Woody's Boogaloo, arranged by Ascher
B3 You Know Me, by Ascher and Williams

As sideman or band member, on keyboards

A4 The Sands of Time and Changes (Ascher, piano)
B2 A Song for You (Ascher, piano)
B2 Sweet Misery (Ascher plays clavinet and organ)
A1 A Little Bit of Love, by Ascher
A4 Sunday, by Ascher
B2 She Sings for Free, by Ascher
B5 Loneliness, by Ascher
B6 Sad Song, by Ascher
B4 I Don't Have to Do What I Don't Want to Do (Ascher plays melletron on this track)
B1 You and Me Against the World , arr Don Hannah, written by Ascher and Williams
A1 Watch Closely Now, by Ascher
A5 Hellacious Acres, by Ascher
B1 The Woman in the Moon, by Ascher and Williams
B4 Finale: With One More Look At You / Watch Closely Now, by Ascher and Williams
A2 You and Me Against the World, by Ascher and Williams
A4 Loneliness, by Ascher and Williams
B2 With One More Look at You, by Ascher and Williams
(Ascher produced tracks: A2, A4, B4, B5)
A3 Heaven Can Wait (string arrangement by Ascher)
B1 Two Out of Three Ain't Bad (string arrangement by Ascher)
A2 Smoothin' On Down (Ascher plays clavinet on this track)
B It Happened (Ascher, keyboards on the flipside only)
2-15 Back by the River (Ascher plays keyboard)
1 Morning Much Better, Ascher piano
6 Running Out of Fools – If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody, Ascher piano
10 Time, Ascher piano
11 When the Sun Comes Shining Through (The Ladder), Ascher piano
5 Unscheduled Departures
8 M.A.P.S. (Bob Mann, Kenny Ascher, Don Payne, Allen Schwartzberg)
10 When She Loved Me (Ascher, keyboards)
14 Baby Mine , (Ascher, keyboards & string arrangements)
4 One Less Bell to Answer (piano, Ascher; arr Bacharach; strings arr, Ascher)
11 Close to You (Ascher, piano)
12 A House is Not a Home (Ascher, piano)

OCLC   271753259)

Awards & award nominations



Past Grammy Nominations
17th Annual (for recordings released between Oct 16, 1973 and Oct 15, 1974)
March 1, 1975
Paul Williams
Kenneth Ascher
Songwriters Award Song of the Year You and Me Against the World Helen Reddy
20th Annual (for recordings released between Oct 1, 1976 and Sep 30, 1977)
February 23, 1977
Kenny Ascher, Alan Bergman,
Marilyn Bergman, Rupert Holmes,
Leon Russell, Barbra Streisand,
Donna Weiss, Paul Williams,
Kenny Loggins
Composers and Arrangers Best Album of an Original Score
Written for a Motion Picture or a TV Special
A Star is Born Motion Picture
22nd Annual (for recordings released between Oct 1, 1978 and Sep 30, 1979)
February 27, 1980
Paul Williams
Kenneth Ascher
Composers and Arrangers Best Album of an Original Score
Written for a Motion Picture or a TV Special
The Muppet Movie Motion Picture

Critically acclaimed live performances

Jingle writing

Ascher has composed (or co-composed) jingles for:

  1. Applause
  2. Gotcha
  3. Larry
  4. Mr. Calm
  1. The Beer
  2. Combined
  1. Brilliant Idea/ GE Brings Good Things to Life
  2. Cooking
  1. Never Underestimate
  2. Canned Chef
  3. Hockey
  4. Makes Itself
  5. Red Dress
  6. Snowman
  7. Stay Young
  8. Storm Radio Winter
  9. Superhero
  10. Superman
  11. Tennis Anyone?
  12. Wild Ride
  1. Herman Joseph Polo, revised arr by Kenny Ascher (1981)
  2. Herman Joseph Tennis, comp. & arr. by Kenny Ascher (1981)
  3. Sailboat music and arr. by Kenneth Ascher (1980)
  4. Billiards, music and arr. by Kenneth Ascher (1980)

Many of Ascher's jingle compositions were (i) produced by Sunday Productions (Hilary Jay Lipsitz, born 1933, president), (ii) published by Ahoskie Music, Inc. (Hilary Jay Lipsitz, president), and (iii) licensed by ASCAP.

Academic education

Ascher holds three diplomas from Columbia University:

While at Columbia, Ascher studied composition with Otto Luening, Jack Beeson, and Vladimir Ussachevsky and piano with William Albert Beller [8] [9] (1900–1986). Ascher graduated from William F. Dykes High School in Atlanta, as valedictorian, and entered Columbia College, Columbia University on a math scholarship. In 1966, while in college, the Kenny Ascher Quintet performed live in WKCR's Stone Soup at midnight. [10]

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  2. Woody Herman & Stuart Troup, The Woodchopper's Ball: The Autobiography of Woody Herman, pg. 121, Hal Leonard Corporation (1994)
  3. Gene Lees (1928–2010), Leader of the Band: The Life of Woody Herman pg. 266, Oxford University Press (1995)
  4. "Jazz: Vital Creativity by Stamm Group", by John Steuart Wilson (1913–2002), New York Times , February 25, 1973
  5. "Going Out Guide: You're Not Alone", New York Times , May 14, 1973
  6. "In Performance: Cabaret; Celebrations Without Tinsel", by Stephen Holden, New York Times , December 12, 2000
  7. "Cabaret Guide", New York Times, July 13, 2001
  8. ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, 4th ed., compiled for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers by Jaques Cattell Press, New York, R.R. Bowker (1980); OCLC   7065938
  9. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, the late Leonard Feather (ed.) & the late Ira Gitler, Oxford University Press (1999), pg. 110; OCLC   38746731
  10. "Radio: Music", New York Times , pg. 77, col. 2, December 16, 1966