“Just 4 Kicks is an a cappella vocal jazz quartet.” That’s kind of like saying the Empire State Building is a skyscraper. It’s true, but it doesn’t begin to describe the experience of hearing this amazing wacky, virtuoso vocal jazz ensemble for the first time.
Four uniquely talented and musically successful vocalists from the West Coast, each with independent careers in the music industry, were thrust together at several Northwest jazz festivals in 1993, and a quartet emerged! Just 4 Kicks’ Kirby Shaw, from Ashland, Oregon, is one of the most well-known choral and vocal jazz composers/arrangers of our time. Randy Crenshaw is among the first-call studio singers and arrangers in Los Angeles. Four Freshmen alumnus Kirk Marcy directs the internationally-acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble Soundsation at Edmonds Community College, just north of Seattle. Vijay Singh, widely known for his versatility as a composer, arranger, soloist, and director of the vocal jazz program at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, rounds out the quartet.
Just 4 Kicks began as a diversion from these active careers in a spirit of fun and spontaneous musicality. Now, to their great surprise and delight, this talented group finds themselves in demand at jazz festivals and clinics throughout the United States and Canada. With the release of their fourth CD, entitled “JOYFUL NOISE,” Just 4 Kicks covers even more stylistic ground than ever before, singing a wildly adventurous all-new set of sacred material, arranged by the four Kickboyz themselves. Ranging far afield, from reggae, gospel/funk, and bluegrass, to classical choral, calypso, swing, and hymn tunes, they happily expand the parameters of a cappella vocal group singing, while retaining their love for spontaneous vocal improvisation and their signature collective sense of humor.
Since putting their quartet together, Just 4 Kicks has become a staple at jazz festivals, clinics, and concerts throughout the United States and Canada. As charismatic performers and strong educators, they are able to present themselves and their entertaining art in an engaging way that audiences of every demographic stripe and students of all ages can appreciate, applaud, understand, and learn from.
Randy Crenshaw has been variously described as a “musical general practitioner in an age of specialists,” a “utility infielder in the ballgame of music,” “the Swiss Army knife of singers,” “the ‘Zelig’ of session singers,” and “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” (that last one was from a jealous fellow singer).
Randy has degrees from Willamette University’s College of Music, Salem, Oregon (a Bachelor of Music in trumpet performance) and from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts (a Diploma in Commercial Arranging). He has done orchestral and big-band trumpet playing, played and sung Renaissance and pre-Baroque music at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival, been a country singer, and over the years has arranged for and sung with Boston-based oldies/doo-wop a cappella group No Strings Attached, the Berklee Vocal Jazz Choir, a cappella vocal jazz quintet Terra Nova (1987 Hennessy Jazz Search grand prize winners), a cappella world beat/R&B sextet Wahoo Do-Re (formerly Vocal Nation), contemporary male Christian vocal group Haven (from the radio broadcast “Haven Today,” and now, of course, Just 4 Kicks (with four CDs released to date on their own Kickboyz Records label).
He has numerous published vocal arrangements, available through University of Northern Colorado Jazz Press, Greeley, Colorado – www.uncjazzpress.com, Sound Music Publications, Edmonds, Washington – www.smpjazz.com, and through his own website – www.randycrenshaw.com
Randy currently lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and three daughters, and is a Grammy-nominated, in-demand freelance session singer and arranger with hundreds of major film, television, commercial, and record credits to his name.
Kirk Marcy is a 1983 Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, where he received a Bachelor of Music Education degree. Kirk brought honors to himself and his programs with the 1985 downBeat Magazine award of “Best High School Jazz Ensemble in US and Canada.”
In 1987 he joined the prestigious Four Freshmen and performed with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Buddy Morrow. In 1988, Kirk Marcy returned to the Pacific Northwest to become the director of Soundsation, the internationally-acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble at Edmonds Community College. His duties also include teaching music fundamentals, jazz history and vocal jazz solo singing classes. An active writer and arranger of vocal jazz music, Kirk has music published through University of Northern Colorado Jazz Press, Greeley, Colorado – www.uncjazzpress.com and Sound Music Publications, Edmonds, Washinton – www.smpjazz.com.
In January, 1994, he served as guest conductor for the Arizona All-State Jazz Choir, and is in great demand as a clinician/ adjudicator at jazz festivals everywhere. Kirk is a member of MENC and ACDA. He is a primary staff member of the Frank DeMiero Jazz Camp.
Kirby Shaw has made a major impact in jazz music education, and has shared his musical expertise in 44 states, Canada, Australia, the Bahamas, Sweden, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
A scholar, Dr. Shaw has a BA degree in Music Education and an MA degree in Choral Composition from San Jose State University, and a DMA degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington. A teacher, Shaw taught in the Mt. Shasta public school system before joining the music faculty at College of the Siskiyous in California, where he founded/directed the innovative and highly acclaimed COS Vocal Jazz Ensemble. He also directed similar groups at Colorado State University and The University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Shaw’s teaching is infused with a sense of humor and breadth of knowledge that is transmitted in an exciting and highly contagious manner.
As a performer, Dr. Shaw has sung with such notables as Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Jon Hendricks, and Mark Murphy. He is a founding member of (and arranger for) Just 4 Kicks, the 4-man a cappella vocal group of West Coast vocal jazz educators/performers, with four CDs released to date on their Kickboyz Records label. Other CDs include a solo jazz album “The Other Side” and a duo album with legendary vocal jazz guru Phil Mattson. Shaw also directs Encore!, a 3-woman, 2-man a cappella ensemble that specializes in a wide variety of American popular music, and is the trumpet player for Journey’s End Jazz Band, a Dixieland band in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley where he and his wife Markita reside. Kirby’s compositions/arrangements are sung around the world and have sold millions of copies. This prolific output has resulted in numerous ASCAP awards.
Dr. Shaw’s skills a composer/arranger, teacher, conductor, and performer truly make him a leading force in choral music education.
Vijay Singh is an active performer, composer, teacher and clinician residing in Ellensburg, Washington. After completing his undergraduate degree in Music Education from Willamette University, he taught public school music at the secondary level for three years in Oregon, where his choirs were consistently rated among the best in the Northwest. Vijay has a Master’s degree from Portland State University, where he was a graduate teaching assistant, and has directed ensembles at Western Oregon State University, Mt. Hood Community College, Portland State University, and Frank DeMiero’s Jazz Camp. He currently is a professor of music at Central Washington University, where he teaches voice, directs the Vocal Jazz program, and conducts the University Chorale.
As a composer/arranger, Vijay writes for all levels in both classical choral and jazz idioms, and his works have been performed at regional and national ACDA, MENC, and IAJE conventions throughout the United States. His works are published by Warner Bros., National Music, Hal Leonard, BriLee, Lawson-Gould, and Laurel Press Publishers, with over 85 works currently in print. He often writes on commission for some of North America’s finest collegiate and professional ensembles, and is a four-time ASCAP Composer’s Award recipient. Several of Vijay’s compositions are featured on Male Ensemble Northwest’s holiday CD recording “Reflections of Christmas,” released in 1997, and he has garnered praise from such notable musicians as members of the King’s Singers and Chanticleer.
An active classical performer, Vijay has appeared as featured bass-baritone soloist with such notable groups as Choral Cross Ties, the Oregon Symphony, Fairbanks Summer Fine Arts Festival, Bel Canto Northwest, Male Ensemble Northwest, and the Portland Opera Guild. As a solo jazz artist, he can be heard with some of the nation’s finest jazz musicians, and has performed at jazz festivals across the US and Canada. Vijay has sung with the Robert Shaw Chorale as part of the Carnegie Hall Concert Series, and has appeared in opera and musical theatre, performing such roles as Sarastro in Mozart’s Magic Flute, the Voice of God in Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, Uberto in Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona, the Armchair and the Black Cat in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges, and Sir Lancelot in Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot.
Vijay is a member of ACDA, MENC, ASCAP and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.