Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Spurr, Kenneth (Norris)
Spurr, Kenneth (Norris), jazz pianist, band leader, educator; b. Elmhurst, IL, 9 May 1968. Ken's parents Richard Spurr (b. 1938) and Linda Spurr (b.1939), currently reside in Elmhurst, IL. Ken's half brother, Robert Spurr (b. 1954) resides with his family in Kirkland WA. Robert is a professional artist.
Ken began piano lessons at age 7. When he turned 12 he switched to electric organ. At the age of 20, Ken began college (Valparaiso University, Valparaiso IN.) Piano soon became the main focus. After hearing Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk recordings Ken began studding jazz piano with William Foster. While at college Ken performed with the college big band (directed by Jeff Brown) and small jazz combo. Ken also put together a small jazz combo and began performing professionally in the Valpariso area. Ken graduated from Valparaiso University in 1993 with a BA and moved back to Chicago where he began his professional carrer as a jazz pianist. He studied piano with Larry Novak and Allan Swain. He married Ellen R. Opferbeck in 1994. Ken continues to perform and record with many local jazz artists including Rusty Jones, Nick Tountas, Joel Spencer, Kelly Sill, Larry Grey, Greg Fishman and Bob Rummage. He also has performed with many major jazz artists including Louie Bellson, Ira Sullivan, Rufus Reid, Richie Cole, Marvin Stamm and Greg Abate. In 1997 Ken met David Kikoski and studied with him. In 1999 Ken joined the faculty at Elmhurst College, where he teaches piano, jazz piano and jazz improvisation.
In 2003 Ken wrote an article for Chicago Jazz Magazine. The article discuses his transcription of a Bill Evans solo.