Having been praised as possessing “pristine playing, meticulous composing” and “a very personal voice deserving of attention,” guitarist Denin Koch has done a lot. He’s performed with Wycliffe Gordon, Dee Daniels, and the Spokane Symphony Orchestra (as a soloist), recorded with Bob Curnow, published a book read around the world, graduated from the prestigious Eastman School of Music, and released a critically-acclaimed album of original music – and he’s only 25 years old. He is one of the most exciting and unique rising guitarists and composers on the scene today. Koch has honed his craft under the tutelage of many of the greatest musicians and educators in the world, including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gary Versace, Bob Sneider, Dave Rivello, Bill Dobbins, Dan Keberle and Brent Edstrom. His playing has also been called “full of variety,” “nimble,” and possessing of “inherent modernism” and a “subtle touch.”
“re: manhattan project,” Koch’s debut album, is a ten-movement suite for jazz quintet that reimagines the story of the Manhattan Project, which Koch’s hometown of Richland, WA was deeply involved in. The piece received a grant award from the Institute for Music Leadership at the Eastman School of Music, was named a “Project We Love” by the Kickstarter staff, and was nearly 200% funded by more than 50 backers during its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. “re: manhattan project,” received a four-star rating on AllAboutJazz.com and has been praised as “remarkable,” “extraordinary, “moving” and containing “beautiful interplay.” It has been featured on NPR’s Northwest Public Broadcasting, AllAboutJazz.com, CITY Newspaper, WGMC Jazz 90.1 and more. Koch has been commissioned to turn the project into a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra by the Mid-Columbia Symphony, to be premiered in January 2022.
In November 2019, Koch published a transcription book containing all twelve guitar solos from Kurt Rosenwinkel’s “Star of Jupiter” album with world-renowned guitar publisher Mel Bay Publishing, Inc. with approval from Rosenwinkel himself. He is currently working with Rosenwinkel on a book of his own compositions.
Koch became interested in the guitar and started playing rock music at a young age, delving deeply into jazz after hearing the music of Pat Metheny as a teenager. He received a full-tuition scholarship to study jazz at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, where he also became the youngest member of the Spokane Jazz Orchestra at the age of 20 and began playing under legendary arranger and publisher Bob Curnow. Upon graduating from Whitworth, he received the faculty award for “service to the department and musical excellence” and was accepted on scholarship as a master’s student to the world-renowned Eastman School of Music. While completing his master’s coursework, Koch performed under Dave Rivello in the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble and premiered two large ensemble arrangements of his own compositions with the band. He is currently completing doctoral work on a full ride from the University of Northern Colorado.
As both a guitarist and composer, Koch’s influences include Metheny, Rosenwinkel, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Gilad Hekselman, Radiohead, Dmitri Shostakovich, Jimmy Page, Gustav Mahler, Dexter Gordon, Jim Hall, Igor Stravinsky, Miles Davis, Emily Remler, Led Zeppelin, Johann Sebastian Bach, Lage Lund, Herbie Hancock, Blue Mitchell, Barney Kessel and more. Currently, Koch is writing for his next project, which includes music composed for his March 2021 wedding ceremony and other music inspired by it.