LA Pro 30+ Years • Backed Grammy Artists Natalie Cole and Michael W. Smith in Concert • Jazz & Symphonic • Benny Goodman and Pete Fountain Style on Clarinet • Phil Woods and Art Pepper Style on Alto Sax • Quick Turnaround • Top-Quality • Latest Technology • Music Degree
In SLC area after 30+ years in the LA scene. "Fat” clarinet sound of Pete Fountain, Benny Goodman swing, alto style of Art Pepper and Phil Woods. Licks, solos, backing for your track with highest quality and quick turnaround.
I work with top musicians in many styles, from backing Natalie Cole in concert on lead alto with a Don Kubec big band, to playing with the LA-based New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band (seen in a popular smartphone ad), singers like Lia Booth, Sandra Booker, Jay Jackson, and Chuck Ousley in intimate jazz clubs, wailing sax in ‘70s rock/funk bands, to orchestral and sacred music, backing Michael W. Smith in concert with the Corona Symphony, recording film tracks for Claire Elizabeth Terry, and theater productions/soundtracks for Cora Alley, or originals for groups like Prairie Anthem.
The best music comes from artistic collaboration. Thanks to modern technologies and SoundBetter.com, you get easy, affordable access to my work as an industry pro, providing the advantages of remote tracking without sacrificing the collaboration needed for great creative work. My 30+ years of experience in the studio brings a lot to the table.
It’s as close as possible to being in the studio with you, without the extra costs.
Contact me, and let's hear your ideas! I'll help you make this a great recording.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
- Natalie Cole
- Michael W. Smith
- Llew Matthews
- Hank Levy
- Gail Deadrick
- David Hamilton
- Bob Messenger
- George Probert
- Johnny Vatos
- Bryan Duncan
- Phil Christensen
- Jay Jackson
- Sandra Booker
- Lia Booth
- Andrea Miller
- Chuck Ousley
- Don Kubec
- Jim Gordon
- Tony Garcia
- Diana Kavilis Morris
- Anne Johnston-Brown
- Ken James
- Bill Maloof
- Howie Stevenson
- Jeff Kennedy
- Stan Endicott
- Sonny Green
- CJ Sams
- Byron Wirth
- Dave Musgrove
- Ed Wolfe
- Marco Mejia
- Hilarion Domingue
- San Dimas Jazz Workshop
- New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band of Los Angeles
- Corona Symphony
- Avant Artists
- The BlackWood Jazz Combo
- Rail City Jazz
- Catalina Island Yacht Club
- Frank Sinatra Twin Palms Estate
- Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom
- Hotel Cafe
- 2nd Street Jazz Club
- Lucy’s 51
- La Louisianne
12 ReviewsEndorse Keith Ward
This guy amazed me. Really. Worth every red cent and then some.
Keith is 100% professional and all-around an honor to work with. His creative intuition and expertise brings my songs to life! And his recording quality and attention to detail are top notch. Extremely grateful for Keith!
It was a pleasure working with Keith! He was blazing fast and gave me exactly the sax solo I needed. As a bonus, I was able to sit in on the session via Zoom so I was able to give immediate feedback and get exactly what I wanted without going back and forth. He was able to creatively improvise as well as playing some parts I wanted a specific way. I will definitely work with Keith again!
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with Keith! He is an exceptional musician, responsive and very easy to work with. He captured what I was looking for and when I requested a minor edit (no fault of Keith's) he promptly and courteously provided that with lightning speed. I will request his services again! I highly recommend Keith!
Keith was very easy to work with and totally nailed his parts. He delivered exactly what we asked for. Will definitely work with him again on future projects!
Working with Keith has been one of the best experiences I ever had. He is super professional and he always commits with the project to get the best out of it.
I really can't wait to have the opportunity to hire him again in the near future!
I have worked with Keith for many years and consider him to be a consummate professional, as well as a warm human being. Keith's calm leadership skills are a breeze to work with.
His beautiful tone and ability to add sonorous melody while matching the musical environment, would be a home-run for any project.
Keith is a consummate professional, a tone-monster, and a higher level human being. I have worked with Keith in live and recording settings and know his sound to be deliciously transcendent, while his musical capability and interpersonal skills adds calm, confidence, and positivity to a project. He has mastered the vintage jazz tone and styles, but easily slips into any project, from pop to ambient to gospel to rock. I have witnessed Keith lead large productions and also walk-in record clarinet fills for single-song projects, always being a welcomed professional and personable presence.
Star player! Great imagination with the instrumentation and style! This guy knows Jazz!!
The music is just beautiful: thank you both so much, once again, for your patience, sensitivity... and talent!
I had the absolute pleasure of working with Keith, who was the featured sax solo on the theme music for THIRTY MINUTES, an extended short film which I wrote and directed, starring Lúcia Moniz OF LOVE, ACTUALLY.
Keith is not only an extraordinarily talented and sensitive sax player, but also a wonderful, infinitely patient(!) human being, who I sincerely hope I have the pleasure of working with again in the future! - Cannot recommend him highly enough!!
Keith is a total pro. He can play exactly what you've written or improvise a great solo to lift up your piece. He gave us a great clarinet solo for our pop ballad. He's totally open to feedback and a pleasure to work with.
Keith has solid chops and a professional ethic. He brings creativity and a warm personality to each project.
Interview with Keith Ward
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on my own music licensing for film, TV, and advertising, mainly in the vintage jazz genre. My band, Rail City Jazz, just released our debut album, and we're doing gigs again (finally!) after the pandemic. I am also gigging with my other band, Jazz on a Stick, and work as a sideman with The Dewdroppers. And, of course, I'm helping others with clarinet and sax tracks for their projects. I am working on composing the music for a full-stage musical for a libretto and lyrics written by my brother, Drew Ward, called Beyond This Point.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: The power of digital is hard to match, but I respect what we have done in analog.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to provide great musicianship, great quality, great communication, and reliable delivery.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: As a musician, I love creating new songs and compositions most, but I love playing and recording nearly as much. These are all fulfilling what feels like my responsibility to the world to share my unique gifts for their encouragement.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: So far, whether I can read music, which I do.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That it's not hard work. It is hard work--but it gives me great satisfaction!
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: 1. Are there music samples (references) they have in mind to try to match the vision in their mind? 2. When do you need it?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: In this order: 1. Do you like their work? (Listen to their samples) 2. Do they communicate well? (read their write-ups and answers) 3. Do they have experience that relates? (Consider their credits)
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: 1. Clarinet 2. Piano (keyboard) 3. Computer with Studio One, Libraries, and StudioLive interface (okay, that's one more piece of gear) 4. Headphones 5. AKG D330BT microphone (with cords)
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Ha! My path is not like anyone else I know. I've been doing this with passion since 4th grade band class, listening to Pete Fountain albums and learning from the greats of not only jazz, but also pop, rock, gospel, and blues; to writing songs, composing and arranging music for the groups I've been involved with all along the way; classical training with a degree in music; music directing musicals; leading worship for church groups; playing in stadiums, clubs and lounges; playing music for people in hospitals, rehab centers, assisted living, and hospice; busking on the street; extensive mentor training in sync licensing, production, and modern music business--too many experiences to describe here, but all part of the unique journey I've been on--one that I cherish and wouldn't trade for the world.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Vintage jazz with a bluesy slant
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Snoop Dog - I am completely surprised by his knowledge of music production, and his broad interests and skills. He also seems like a genuinely good human being.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Vintage jazz, usually, but the genre-blending aspects of creating new music is happening all the time, so I get to work on all kinds of interesting music.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Years of eclectic experience with music in general, successful songs in particular, and the recording process, to know my role in making a song great.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: If it sounds good, it's good. Trust your ears.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I provided a clarinet solo for "Don't Lower the Bar" by Prairie Anthem earlier this year, an Americana piece which shares a bit of wisdom for the times we're in at the moment. You can hear it on Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/album/2xhSs3TQYUN76wdsdNGZZx?si=QM7ORYOHQpOI_UMhS7sieQ). We worked remotely through SoundBetter and had a great time.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I've worked with singer Chris Weeks from Great Britain in a production of one of my own songs for a Michael Buble sound, who I would highly recommend. I also recommend guitarist Freddy Gildersleeve for great country, blues, and jazz, who I perform live with regularly here in Idaho. We're planning a jazz tour in Germany with vocalist Katie Engstrom and bassist Alex Holloway, playing local venues and some street playing. Also, check out the Americana duo, Prairie Anthem--high quality.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: After hearing your vision for the project, including reference tracks you may have in mind, I get cue tracks from you in MP3 format as reference to pull into my DAW to lay down my tracks. I send a rough mix MP3 so you can review my tracks in context to make sure I'm hitting the target for your vision. When I've made the refinements you want, I'll receive payment and deliver the WAV or AIFF files at the same length and resolution for you to easily pull into your project for proper alignment, at about -12 db peak volume, so you have clear tracks with plenty of headroom for gain staging in your mix and master processing.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I work in my Idaho home studio with Studio One Pro 4, after a decade with ProTools, and Cakewalk/Sonar before that. My audio interface is an Avid Digidesign Rack 003. I use a Studio Projects C6 mic with a Summit Audio preamp in a booth for most of my horn and vocal work. For monitoring, I use Presonus Eris E4.5 high-definitiion near-field monitors and Ultrasone Pro 780i headphones (plus a reliable pair of 1972 Koss Pro/4AA headphones I've used most of my life).
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: My taste in music is too eclectic to list, but I'll give a broad-stroke overview: As a jazz clarinetist, I love Pete Fountain for his fat sound and joy in playing, Benny Goodman for his great swing, and Artie Shaw for his artistry and virtuosity. Phil Woods, Art Pepper, and Eric Marienthal have been inspirations on alto sax. Big bands--from Glenn Miller, the Dorseys, Goodman, Shaw; through the '60s and '70s with Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, and Maynard Ferguson; all the way to the present, with Gordon Goodwin and Marshall Gilkes--have had a special place with me as a horn player. Earlier Miles, Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, Barney Kessel have been other tasty influences. Horn bands from the '70s onward were foundational for me, too: Chicago; Blood, Sweat and Tears; Loggins and Messina; Tower of Power; Earth, Wind and Fire; Seawind; The Brecker Brothers; Tom Scott; even Toto with some Jerry Hey horn arrangements. Great drummers inspire me, like the power and expression of Gene Krupa and Art Blakey; the finesse of Ray Baduc and Joe Morello; the complexity, groove, and precision of David Garibaldi and Anika Nilles--I could sit for hours spellbound just listening to drummers! They REALLY inspire me. (I think I always wanted to be a drummer.) Vocalists, old and new, have also been inspiring: Billie Holiday was an acquired taste for me (like Coltrane); Ella and Satchmo were the innovators in my jazz leanings; more recent singers like Eva Cassidy and Christina Aguilera have brought me to tears. Even Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and Rod Stewart have surprised me. Billy Joel was a favorite for songwriting prowess and piano-driven production. Country artists like Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, and Allison Krauss make me laugh and cry. Nickel Creek blows me away. For production, the field is so large and varied--endless!--but I admired Jimmy Messina from the beginning when he paired up with Kenny Loggins, and their keyboardist, Michael Omartian, who became a producer himself. The Beatles, of course, just for songwriting, arranging, and the innovative production of Sir George Henry Martin. James William Guercio with Chicago's early work was early production inspiration for me. David Foster productions for a long time, from his early ventures with Chicago to his later work with Celine Dion and Josh Groban, have a polished touch I appreciate. The composing and arranging of Michael W. Smith takes me to a deep place in my soul. Soundtrack composers have long been an obsession, and that's what I turn to the most on Pandora and Spotify when I have to work on non-music activities for subliminal inspiration: Thomas Newman, John Barry, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, Michael Kamen, and Rachel Portman, just to scratch the surface. Okay, enough already!
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I provide remote session tracks for clarinet and alto saxophone. Jazz, pop, and classical styles are all comfortable for me. My experience in live performance (large and small), studio work, theater, and film give me a well-rounded background to assist my clients achieve their creative vision. My work with producers across the globe provide the technology and administrative background needed for a smooth process.