UMSL music lecturer Ken Kehner has a new jazz CD out called "From This Moment On." (Photo by August Jennewein)

Ken Kehner’s a cat guy. And he’s OK with letting the public in on that.

So much so in fact, that his new jazz CD, “From This Moment On,” which he recorded with his band the Ken Kehner Trio, contains two compositions influenced by his pet felines, Franklin and Camille.

Franklin’s Blues” is supposed to depict the sound of a cat walking on a keyboard said Kehner, a lecturer in music at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “It’s kind of a Thelonious Monk-esk tune,” he said. Kehner wrote “Waltz for Camille,” as a tribute to his wife’s deceased cat. “She was really sweet and high maintenance,” recalled Kehner, an accomplished jazz pianist.

“Of all of my compositions I’m probably most proud of those two, because they have a thematic element. But I also feel like I really captured the essence of the two pets and came up with something that’s fun to play.”

Kehner and his wife live in Jefferson City, Mo. and have taken in a lot of rescued cats. “I have more cats that I could write tunes for, but I don’t have enough time,” joked Kehner. He said cats are the perfect pets for musicians because they’re like adults. They don’t mind being left alone.

While Kehner has appeared on other recordings, this CD is the first time he’s been at the helm.

“I got the musicians I wanted and the tunes I wanted and finally decided to pull the trigger.”

Kehner said the best thing and the worst thing about it being his own CD is that he had to make all the decisions. There were two songs that he listened to two takes of 50 times before making a final decision.

“Every time I listened to it, I heard different things and I could make arguments for either one,” he said.

The CD is comprised of half originals and half jazz standards.

“I tried to do a mixture so that there are some familiar things on there,” he said. “I think it has pretty wide appeal. I’d like to think there is a little something for everyone.”

When Kehner’s not teaching students at UMSL, he’s giving private lessons, participating in clinics and jamming out with a cover band he plays with. He admits balancing his schedule is a challenge, but said his students come first.

“I probably enjoy performing the most. But I consider myself to be an educator. So I have to balance my playing life with my duties here.” He added, “I enjoy teaching a lot.”

Kehner’s CD “From This Moment On,” is available at CD, and iTunes.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez