Respected San Antonio Jazz Drummer and Vocalist Kyle Keener Has Died


Kyle Keener performed with musical partner Polly Harrison for nearly 50 years. - FACEBOOK / RACHEL M. LATREMORE
  • Facebook / Rachel M. Latremore
  • Kyle Keener performed with musical partner Polly Harrison for nearly 50 years.
Drummer and vocalist Kyle Keener, a longtime mainstay of the Alamo City jazz scene, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer, according to a post by Rachel Latremore on the GoFundMe raising money for his family.

As a member of the group Small World, Keener performed with guitarist Polly Harrison for nearly five decades, primarily focusing on jazz standards. In online posts, musicians remembered Keener as generous mentor with a computer-like memory for the lyrics and melodies of classic American songs.

"Like all the best humans, Kyle Keener was not easily distilled," wrote Richard Oppenheim, local president of the American Federation of Musicians, in an online obituary. "An inherently conservative man with an unfailingly adventurous soul. A man very much of his place and time who held a deep appreciation for those whose personal cultures were very different from his own."

In online comments, players shared memories of their excitement when asked to join Small World for jam sessions, something of a rite-of-passage for local students of the musical form.

“I did a day job one time,” Keener told Texas Public Radio in 2018. "It only lasted a month! I don’t know, playing music is what it’s all about. It’s in your heart, and you just get out there and do it, and have a great time."

The GoFundMe to benefit Keener's family had raised more than $26,000 at press time.

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.

San Antonio Current works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of San Antonio and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep San Antonio's true free press free.