Arts and Entertainment

Ward is musician and model

Lanny Ward, former South Whidbey High School graduate and the son of Danny Ward, Langley, is an accomplished jazz saxophonist and composer. His new CD, “Reunion” was just released. -
Lanny Ward, former South Whidbey High School graduate and the son of Danny Ward, Langley, is an accomplished jazz saxophonist and composer. His new CD, “Reunion” was just released.
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Lanny Ward was knee high to his dad when he picked up a horn for the first time. A precocious 8-year-old, Ward began showing an interest in playing his father’s saxophones, and by age 10 he was taking lessons.

Dad is Danny Ward, well-known jazz saxophonist from South Whidbey. By the age of 13, Lanny Ward, whose first horn was a soprano B flat curved sax, was sitting in with his dad’s jazz combo. So it’s not surprising that this youngster grew up to become a jazz musician and composer. But this rising star in the jazz world is also a sought-after model and soap opera actor.

“His first love is music,” said Danny Ward, “but he appreciates the model work. It certainly pays the bills.”

Lanny Ward, 27 and a 1992 graduate of South Whidbey High School, began developing his unique musical style in high school concert and jazz bands. He was awarded a full scholarship to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he graduated with a bachelor of music degree in 1997, and was the recipient of the prestigious Michael Brecker Award for best jazz soloist.

“Our home was filled with music, it was practically a rehearsal stage,” Danny Ward said. Lanny grew up hearing many of the jazz greats, including Sonny Rawlins and Freddie Hubbard.

“These people influenced him musically, really knocked his socks off,” said his father, who had visions of a family trio with Lanny on piano and brother Benny on drums.

“I wanted Lanny to play piano,” Ward said. But from a very early age his son was inspired by the sound of the saxophone.

“I think the fact that I played sax as well made it even more interesting to him,” said Danny. Brother Benny plays drums and sits in with his dad from time to time, but works as a professional fitness trainer.

Since leaving South Whidbey, New York City is home to Lanny Ward. He has recorded a CD of his own compositions. He has played with the Philadelphia Pops under the direction of Peter Nero, and he was featured with Grover Washington Jr. during President Clinton’s summit meeting.

Ward has also played with the Richie Cole and Carl Granier orchestras and with Randy Brecker, Bobby Shew, Victor Jones and Arturo Sandoval. He has performed in such legendary jazz venues as the Blue Note, Birdland, S.O.B.s and the Village Gate as well as in vanguard spaces like Smalls and the Zinc Bar.

As an adult, he is influenced by the music of David Sanborn, Cannonball Adderly and Spyro Gyra.

Ward is managed by Louis Levine Management of New York, which also manages Michael jackson, Phoebe Snow and Michael Bolton. He has appeared on a number of television shows, including the soap operas “All My Children” and “The Guiding Light,” and will soon appear on “As the World Turns.” He has also been on “Saturday Night Live,” “Sex in the City,” the Regis and Kathie Lee Show, and was on Ricki Lake’s program as one of the 20 sexiest bachelors.

“He was offered a full-time role on a soap, but turned it down because it would take too much time away from his music,” his father said.

Ward is a star not only of stage and screen but of print as well. He has modeled for Men’s Heath, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Gentlemen’s’ Quarterly, Calvin Klein, Nautica, Time, Smart Money and Penthouse, the last in a five-page high fashion article.

He has appeared in ads for the Gap, Old Navy, Movado Jewelry, Ralph Lauren, Rolex and Beefeater’s Gin, and he worked on a Ralph Lauren television commercial. He has also been featured as the hero on the covers of romance novels.

Though their musical styles differ somewhat, with Lanny playing more soft jazz than his father, whose bag is traditional, mainstream jazz, the pair, joined by Benny, enjoy impromptu jam sessions when they are together.

“Music was a very important part of our lives when the boys were growing up,” Ward said. “I think it brought us closer together because we had to communicate nonverbally when we were playing music together. It is still true today.”

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