Ken Hatfield (musician)

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Ken Hatfield
Portrait of Ken Hatfield holding a classical guitar
Ken Hatfield
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Hatfield
Born (1952-11-18) November 18, 1952 (age 62)
Portsmouth, Virginia, US
Genres Classical, jazz, acoustic
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, music educator, author
Instruments Guitar

Ken Hatfield (born November 18, 1952) is an American jazz guitarist, who is also a composer, arranger, producer, and educator.


Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, Hatfield began his formal guitar instruction with John Griggs at the Griggs School of Music in 1967. At the Griggs School Hatfield was introduced to the classical and jazz guitarists of the time such as Andrés Segovia, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt and Johnny Smith. As a teenager growing up in the Tidewater Virginia area, Hatfield met and played professionally with some of the area's most popular jazz musicians, including Joe Jones, Jimmy Barbour, and Philippe Fields. Hatfield's early musical journey spanned much of American popular music. As the ascendance of pop music eclipsed the popularity of American jazz, Hatfield first discovered this older art form while performing regularly in groups focused on the popular music of the time. After graduating from high school, Hatfield attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston. At Berklee he quickly established himself as a leading student. He joined the faculty after his first year and remained an adjunct professor for the next two years. Then he left Berklee to pursue a career as a professional musician. He travelled the US and Canada before settling in Baltimore, Maryland. Hatfield remained in Baltimore for two years working as a member of the R & B group Pockets, playing local jazz gigs and frequently augmenting Charlie Byrd's trio. In 1976 Hatfield moved to New York City, where he began working with the world-renowned jazz organ groups of Jimmy McGriff and Jack McDuff. Hatfield later became a member of Chico Hamilton's group Euphoria, while pursuing a career as a studio musician. Hatfield's career as a session sideman fed his increasing interest in composition and arranging. This interest led to his return to academia to further his studies in composition, with an emphasis on counterpoint.

Hatfield's compositional experience covers a wide range of styles and instrumentations. In addition to composing jazz works for his own ensembles, he has written chamber pieces that range from solo classical guitar to string quartet and mixed ensembles of various sizes. He has composed choral works and ballet scores, including commissioned works for Judith Jamison, The Washington Ballet, and the Maurice Béjart Ballet Company, and he has written scores for television and film, including Eugene Richards' award-winning documentary but, the day came. Arthur Circle Music has published five books of Hatfield's compositions, and in 2005 Mel Bay published his book Jazz and the Classical Guitar: Theory and Application, which is designed to demonstrate his unique approach to playing jazz on a classical guitar. His compositions for solo guitar have been compared to those of the great Fernando Sor (Gene Bertoncini). Hatfield's eight CDs as a leader demonstrate his formidable musical skills as an improviser, composer, and arranger.

In June 2006 Hatfield received the ASCAP Foundation's Jazz Vanguard Award for "innovative and distinctive music that is charting new directions in jazz".[1] He continues to be a leading proponent of jazz performed on the nylon string classical guitar and is active as a composer, arranger, performer, recording artist, producer, and educator.

Discography (as a leader)[edit]

  • The Ken Hatfield Quartet Live: A Night in Norfolk, CD/DVD of concert at Harrison Opera House, Norfolk, VA, Alpha Gaia Arts & Music, forthcoming
  • Ken Hatfield and Friends Play the Music of Bill McCormick, mPub, Stamford, CT, 2008
  • Etudes for Solo Guitar in 24 Keys, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 2008
  • String Theory, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 2005[2]
  • The Surrealist Table, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 2003[3]
  • Phoenix Rising, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 2002[4]
  • Dyad, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 2000
  • Explorations for Solo Guitar, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 1999
  • Music for Guitar and Bass, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 1998


  • Etudes for Solo Guitar in 24 Keys (with companion CD), Arthur Circle Music, New York, 2008
  • Jazz and the Classical Guitar: Theory and Application (with companion CD), Mel Bay Publications, Pacific, MO, 2005
  • New York Suite for Solo Guitar, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 1999
  • Sonata in E Major for Solo Guitar, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 1998
  • Nine Jazz Duets for Guitar and Bass, Arthur Circle Music, New York, 1998
  • Two-Part Contrapuntal Etudes for Guitar, HLH Music Publications, New York, 1998


  1. ^ "Ken Hatfield Biography". All About Jazz. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Review String Theory". Allmusic. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ Anderson, Rick. "Review Surrealist Table". Allmusic. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  4. ^ Anderson, Rick. "Review Phoenix Rising". Allmusic. Retrieved August 21, 2011.