The KSO Digs Through its Stack of 45s for a Playlist of Hit Instrumentals

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Classic instrumentals from 1960s through the 1980s offered pop radio stations a musical variety that they don't have today. The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra serves up authentic record copies of these great jazz, rock, blues and funk infused hit songs without words.

The KSO's K-so Combo in Concert

These instrumentals were certainly popular in their day, but they had lasting qualities that extended their play far beyond the Billboard charts. — KSO Music Director James Cassidy.

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra continues its 25th summer in Devou Park featuring its newest subsidiary group — the K-so Combo. After the Swing and Big Band eras of the 1930s-40s, instrumental songs appeared frequently on the charts, and were heard blaring from car and transistor radios everywhere. Alas, in the early 90s the pop instrumental disappeared as rap, country and hip-hop began to dominate the airwaves.

Since many of these nostalgic instrumental tunes require a real stylistic understanding of jazz, rock, blues and funk, the KSO pulled together the top musicians from across the region to perform a range of music that was popular in their youth. The group’s engine features Steve Mason (keys), Aaron Jacobs (bass) and John Taylor (drums), together with guitarist Bradford Myers, and a horn section including Rick VanMatre (reeds & flute), Matt Anklan, (trumpet) and Dominic Marino (trombone and arranger).

Together with a small string section and a couple extra sidemen, the K-so Combo offers up instrumental tunes that audiences will rarely hear performed live today. Many of these selections folks will recognize and associate with advertising (“Music to Watch Girls By” — Diet Pepsi) or link them to sports and entertainment (“Love’s Theme” — PGA, “Soul Bossa Nova”— Austin Powers, “Rise”— General Hospital). Even big Rock groups dabbled in purely instrumental music (Rush, Edgar Winter). “These instrumentals were certainly popular in their day, but they had lasting qualities that extended their play far beyond the Billboard charts,” says KSO Music Director James Cassidy.

So, "Hustle" down to the band shell as the KSO cooks up some tasty "Green Onions" and a little Woodstock vintage "Soul Sacrifice." "(Hawaii) 5-0" and "S.W.A.T." will patrol the perimeter and provide security. After the show we hope you'll stay and help us "Pick up the Pieces."
By the way, if you see him, tell "Shaft" that "Lily was Here."

Picnics are welcome, though drinks and concessions will be available. Join James Cassidy and the K-so Combo for the Symphony’s 25th Summer (and Toyota’s 20th summer as presenting sponsor) in Devou Park, Saturday, August 3, at 7:30 p.m. The TANK Shuttle from the Covington Catholic parking lot to the band shell runs from 6:00 -7:30 p.m (returning around 9:30 following the concert) for $1 each way. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. Free admission and parking, though donations are suggested. For more information, visit the KSO at or call (859) 431-6216.

For 27 years the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra has taken the “phony” out of symphony by eliminating traditional barriers and presenting engaging, live, thematic concerts that enrich, educate and entertain the residents of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. The KSO performs three series of concerts annually throughout Northern Kentucky.

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