Ken Fowser

Ken Fowser

Occupation Jazz Saxophonist, Composer, Recording Artist, Music Curator

Hometown Haddon Heights, a small town just outside of Philadelphia in South Jersey

Current Residence Astoria, Queens

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As a jazz tenor saxophonist living, performing, and listening to jazz in New York City for the past 13 years, Ken Fowser knows all the best spots to experience live music. When it comes to food, for him, Queens is where it’s at; as for drinks, you’ll find him downtown. He also shared with us his list of songs currently on high rotation, and the album he considers his personal soundtrack to New York.

WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE?
Standing Tall (the name of my first album).

WHAT CAN’T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT AND WHY?
My saxophone (or mouthpiece at least), because you never know when you may meet like-minded musicians and have the opportunity to speak the universal language of music together.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION AND WHY?
Paris. I just completed a three-week tour of Europe including the Netherlands, Italy, and France. Paris just had such a vibe to it. It has a big-city flow with a small-town attitude. Amazing architecture, art, food, romance, and the people were all so nice!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON?
I can often be found in Central Park by Sheep’s Meadow playing volleyball with friends on the two sand courts. Or during the winter at Chelsea Piers.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE PERSON TO SHOW YOU “THEIR NEW YORK CITY,” WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Dead: Charlie Parker. I’d love to see how he listens to music. Living: Bill Murray. That guy knows how to have fun and a good time wherever he goes.

WHO OR WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOU RECENTLY?
Music always tends to inspire me, especially live music. It’s always great putting on a classic record, but seeing it live adds a different element. Seeing the way musicians interact with each other musically on stage, as well as the audience’s reaction, the people in the club and the general spirit, it leaves me with a feeling of warmth and positivity that never seems to get old.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NYC RESTAURANTS? WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE?
For me, Queens is where it’s at for food. I live around the corner from Taverna Kyclades which is some of the best Greek seafood I’ve ever had. Also the Asian cuisine out in Flushing.

WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO SPOT IN NYC FOR DRINKS?
If I’m feeling classy, The Django in the Roxy Hotel, The Back Room in the East Village, or Apotheke in Chinatown. I also love a good dive bar like Kettle of Fish or Fat Cat, both in the West Village.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BRUNCH SPOTS?
I’m not the biggest brunch guy, I’ve always shied away from mimosas and avocado toast for some reason.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ART FIX IN NYC? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ARTIST?
My mother was an art teacher, so it’s hard for me to narrow it down, but I’ve always loved Van Gogh. The Met, MoMA, and the Frick Collection are wonderful.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR LATE-NIGHT HANGOUTS IN NYC?
Smalls Jazz Club in the West Village is amazing for a true late-night hang. They have live music until 4am, and every night they have a jam session. This is where all of the musicians go to hang after they finish work for the night.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNDER-THE-RADAR MUST-DO RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NYC VISITORS?
I’ve always really enjoyed the High Line, especially in spring and autumn—beautiful views of the Hudson and Chelsea. The Vessel at Hudson Yards is nice as well.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE NYC STORES?
I’m a big suit guy. Check out Zohreh on East 54th; ask for Sean.

WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS? WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS?
Hank Mobley, Soul Station; Lee Morgan, Search for the New Land; Tom Jobim, Elis & Tom; John Coltrane, Ballads.

WHAT ALBUM OR SONG WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL SOUNDTRACK TO NYC?
Charlie Parker, Bird with Strings.

WHEN YOU THINK OF NYC, ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR EMOTIONS OR MEMORIES THAT IMMEDIATELY COME TO MIND?
Autumn in New York, strolling through Central Park with a cup of coffee, gazing at the leaves changing color, the smells and the sounds. There’s really nothing like it!

Best Rate Promise
Soho Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-3000
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013

212.519.6600