Kathy Olson Pic for Berklee

photo by https://www.kristopher-johnson.com

I am a jazz baritone saxophonist, teacher, and composer based in the Boston area but originally from Charleston, West Virginia.  I co-lead the Olson Pingrey Quartet with trombonist Randy Pingrey.  Please see the OPQ page for more information and recordings from this band.  I also work as a freelancing baritone saxophonist for big bands and other projects. I am currently an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music where I teach theory classes in the Harmony Department.

In addition to saxophone I play and teach the flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet.

I am the founding member of the Achilles Heal Saxophone Quartet. I also am a member of Conical Cacophony, Pete Kenagy’s Monkfish Orchestra, and the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra.

I first fell in love with playing the baritone saxophone at the age of 12, when my older brother decided he wanted his alto saxophone back and my band director brought in a baritone saxophone for the middle school students to try.  Once I heard the sound of the larger horn, I’ve never looked back.

I was introduced to jazz in Charlottesville, VA where I studied with musicians John D’earth, Jeff Decker, Pete Spaar, Mike Rosensky and Bob Hallahan at the University of Virginia, learning about improvisation and jazz harmony.  I am very grateful for all the help and encouragement I received from these amazing musicians.

Following graduation from UVA I worked for a couple of years as a musician, music teacher and sushi chef in the Charlottesville area.   Realizing that playing and teaching music was what I wanted for my life, I decided to apply to graduate school for a M.M. in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music.  While at NEC I studied with many great teachers and inspiring musicians including among others Jerry Bergonzi, John McNeil, Bob Moses, and classical saxophonist Ken Radnofsky.

Outside of school I have studied with Allan Chase and Charlie Banacos.  I was only able to study with Charlie for about 6 months before he passed away but I am forever grateful for all the help and inspiration he gave me in such a short period of time.