Kengchakaj Kengkarnka
An award-winning, Bangkok-born, New York-based pianist, composer, and creative musician.

    Kengchakaj Kengkarnka is undoubtedly a handful jazz pianist from Thailand who has been recognized on the international jazz scene.

    Kengchakaj has won numerous awards including Best Soloist from Thailand International Jazz Conference Solo Competition(2013), and First Prize awards both in the Ensemble(2013) and Individual Performance(2011) categories from Thailand Jazz Competition.

    Since he moved to NYC in 2015, Kengchakaj has been performing at venues such as 55Bar, Bar Next Door, Shape Shifter Lab, Zinc Bar, Tomi Jazz and many more. In additional, during 2015-2017, Kengchakaj is a performance artist in resident at International House NYC, organizing house concert, jazz Night, jam Session and musical directing a musical. Moreover, Kengchakaj has a privilege to performs many Jazz Festival including Huahin Jazz Festival, Samui Jazz Festival, Thailand Jazz International Conference, Cotai Jazz and Blues Festival(Macau, China) as well as a key performer to celebrating International Jazz Day in Bangkok Thailand. Besides performing in NYC and jazz festival, He also performs regularly at renowned venues for Jazz in Bangkok, Thailand such as Brown Sugar, Saxophone Pub, Sweets Records, to name a few.

    In 2017, with funding from Fulbright scholarship, Kengchakaj earned a Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. He studied privately with Ted Rosenthal and Phil Markowitz as well as renowned faculty at MSM, such as Garry Dial, Rogerio Boccato, Scott Wendholt, Jeremy Manasia, Gretchen Parlato, Theo Bleckman, Kate McGarry, Todd Reynold and many more. Kengchakaj earned his Bachelor’s degree from Conservatory of Music at Rangsit University with a full scholarship where he studied under direction of Dr. Denny Euprasert. Recently, Kengchakaj join a artist residency at Banff International Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music under the direction of MacArthur "Genius Grant" recipient Vijay Iyer and Tyshawn Sorey.

    As an educator, Kengchakaj gave workshop at Rangsit University, Silpakorn University, School for poetic computation and Jazz Happen workshop series as well as taught at YES Academy Thailand, RSU Jazz Camp, Thailand Jazz Workshop, New Frontier Music School, Naissance Music School and NYMA school. Kengchakaj also teaches privately both in NYC and Bangkok. 

    Recently, he partnered with Julphan Tilapornputt and founded "Addicted East Tones" in 2017, a weekly series concerts held in Brooklyn area which focuses on exposing emerging artist to the broader audiences.

    Kengchakaj has just recorded his own debut album “Lak Lan,” to be released in 2019

Artist Statement
    Bangkok-born, New York-based composer, pianist, and creative musician whose work embed in African-American derived music infused with aesthetic of Thai music. I’m interested in using improvised music as a medium for connecting people by evoking emotion, a shared experience, that will create a bond among performers and audiences. A shared experience in a shared space that can only be created in a live performance setting in which will create a shared empathy towards one another.

    My work focused on investigating a fine tune in a juxtaposition or/and dichotomy state through music. To explore the possibility of bringing the idea that is seemingly opposite sit close together such as improvised & composed, free & control, etc. Hoping to assemble many juxtaposition ingredients to unify a greater idea. To blur the line between these dichotomy ideas. As a result, in exploring this idea, will create an example and a dialogue of how we can be an individual yet exist together harmonious in a global that have a wide range of the spectrum.

    As a musician who grew up in a city that heavily influences by western culture while fascinating in aesthetic of Thai music thus becoming a methodology to construct a new idea of creating a body of work as well as finding an identity.