Kenny Banks Jr. is noted for his blended technique in mixing jazz and gospel styles. He brought his talents to the 40th annual Savannah Jazz Festival on Sunday.

Downbeat Magazine describes his playing as “gospel and blues-infused” and calls his arrangements “thrilling, modern and surprising.” Under the guidance of his mother Esther Banks, music director at St. Paul AME Church in Columbus, Ohio, the church became his first musical outlet.

In 2003, Banks Jr. entered the broader world of music with the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, and he joined the orchestra in tours of Peru, Canada and across Europe. In 2009, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to pursue his musical career full-time.

Banks Jr. has performed across the world and the United States, with such artists as the Thow Croker Quintet, Jennifer Holiday, Jazzmeia Horn, India Arie and Phife Dog of A Tribe Called Quest.

In 2019, he was a finalist in the 2019 American Pianists Awards and performed to great acclaim in solo and trio formats, as well as with Grammy-winning vocalist Kurt Elling.