Karen Graves is a multi-faceted musician, equally at home on saxophones, flute and vocals.
Karen grew up on Vancouver Island, playing saxophone in her high-school band with educator Brian Stovell and taking lessons with Steve Jones. She started studying music at Vancouver Island University while in High School, playing in bands with the likes of Diana Krall, Ingrid Jensen and Phil Dwyer.
Soon after, Karen enrolled in the school of hard knocks, furthering her musical knowledge through self study and attending workshops, classes, and lessons. She learnt from the likes of renowned Russian voice instructor, Nikolai Kolesnikov, Camille Henderson; and saxophonists Tom Keenlyside, Pete Christieb and Pat LaBarbera.
While playing with the Banff Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Hugh Fraser, Karen had the honour of studying with and performing in concert with Slide Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Muhal Richard Abrahms, Chucho Valdez and Kenny Wheeler. Karen has had the pleasure of gigging with stellar musicians such as Pianists Miles Black, Linton Garner, Kathy Kidd; Drummers Dan Brubeck, Claude Ranger; Vocalists such as South African superstar, Dolly Rathabe, Indian Classical Vocalist Shweta Jhaveri, Long John Baldry; multi instrumentalists Themba Tana, Celso Machado, Hugh Fraser, Vinnie Golia; and French bassist Joelle Rabu. She has also played with groups such as the iconic Temptations, Will Bernard and Motherbug from San Francisco. Karen also does freelance work and has played with various artists such as Mae Moore, Dawn Pemberton, Frazey Ford (Be Good Tanya's).
She has played in many countries around the world including Asia, Europe, the Caribbean. In 2014 Karen travelled to Russia to play the Winter Olympics with Pianist Doc Fingers, performing for Princess Anne, Ban Ki-moon and other dignitaries.
Karen composes, arranges, plays woodwinds, sings, and leads her own Jazz Ensembles. She also plays regularly with bands such as ten piece soul/funk band Soulstream; French lounge swing band, Mimosa ; the funky Funktete; and Co-leads Expansions with Budge Schachte.
"Already a talent on saxophones and flute...she swings on her own title track. Her most ambitious vocal comes... where she does a decent Annie Ross imitation as she rapid-fires the trampolining vocal lines."
- Review of CD "You Gotta Love Life", Mark Andrews, The Vancouver Sun.