JERSEY CITY, N.J. | Joe Deninzon, a member of the New Jersey City University (NJCU) Multi-Style String faculty is living a lifelong dream, after recently being hired as the new violinist and guitarist for the legendary American rock band Kansas. The group is currently on the road for Kansas’ Another Fork in the Road — 50th Anniversary Tour.
Deninzon, who first appeared as a member of Kansas on tour on June 2, has been lauded as “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin” because of his innovative style on the “Viper” seven-string electric violin. He began teaching at NJCU in Fall 2021 as one of the first Multi-Style Strings faculty in the Music, Dance, and Theatre Department, where he teaches Applied Lessons, Chamber Ensembles and presents Masterclasses.
He has worked with the Who, Bruce Springsteen, 50 Cent, Sheryl Crow, Smokey Robinson, Les Paul, Phoebe LeGere, Kurt Elling, and as a soloist with Jazz at Lincoln Center and the New York City Ballet, prior to touring with Kansas.
Deninzon, noting the importance of NJCU’s Multi-Strings curriculum, said: "It was a long and winding road that led me to become the new violinist with Kansas. Many of the extended skills I learned in my 25 years of freelancing as an electric and acoustic violinist were not taught to me in college. My goal with the NJCU Multi-Styles program is to share my experiences and arm young musicians with the tools they'll need to survive and thrive as 21st century string players, above and beyond the traditional classical training offered at most conservatories.”
In a recent article, Deninzon was quoted as saying “I’m still pinching myself that I get to play in a band I grew up listening to.”
Dr. Amparo Fabra, Chair of NJCU’s Music, Dance & Theatre Department said: “Joe Deninzon is the dream instructor: an expert in his craft with a spectacular career, who is very approachable and enjoys teaching. Our NJCU students have the privilege of learning from him.”
Martha Mooke, Strings Coordinator and Director of Multi-Style Strings in NJCU’s MDT Department, added "Joe Deninzon was one of the first Multi-Style String player/educators tapped to join this groundbreaking program at NJCU and is one of our most sought-after instructors. His experience and expertise as a professional violinist, consummate musician, and dedicated teacher have been invaluable to our students, department and university community as a whole."
Deninzon is also currently the lead singer and violinist for the progressive rock band, Stratospheerius — an American progressive rock band based in New York City — which has released six albums to critical acclaim. In addition to violin, he plays the mandolin and serves as the band's lead vocalist. He is also a member of the Sweet Plantain String Quartet, which combines Latin Jazz with hip-hop and Classical music.
A passionate educator, in 2007, he co-founded the Grand Canyon School of Rock, an annual music program for local high school students in Northern Arizona. He travels worldwide as a clinician and has contributed articles to Strings Magazine, Downbeat, American String Teachers Journal, and Making Music Magazine. His book on improv and extended techniques for strings, titled “Plugging In” was published by Mel Bay in 2012. He has taught at the Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Mark O’Connor String Camp, “Strings Without Boundaries,” and “Fiddle Hell,” and has presented multiple workshops at the American String Teachers National Conference.
Chris Haigh’s book, “Discovering Rock Violin,” lists one of Joe’s recorded solos among the “Top 20 greatest rock violin solos of all time.”
Deninzon holds a bachelor's degree in Violin Performance from Indiana University and a master's degree in Jazz Violin from the Manhattan School of Music.
Kansas formed in 1973 in Topeka, Kansas and became popular during the 1970s with such hit singles as "Carry on Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind". The band appeared on the U.S. Billboard charts for 200 weeks throughout the 1970s and 1980s and played sold-out concerts worldwide. The band has produced nine gold albums and three multi-platinum albums.
Photo Credit: NJCU Faculty Member Joe Deninzon performing with Kansas (Photo by Joel Barrios)
New Jersey City University is an institution of higher learning dedicated to the development of our students, our city, our communities, and our state. We are a game-changing force for our students and have been recognized as one of the top colleges in the nation improving their upward economic mobility. Whether enrolled in one of our undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs at our three locations, NJCU students have access to an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally supportive faculty. This prepares them to go on to become the next generation of workers and leaders who improve their communities and the State of New Jersey.
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