a forceful flutist and composer who challenges classification while affirming her roots in straight-ahead jazz.
Karen was born in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. With a jazz background from the beginning through her parents strong jazz influence, listening and loving popular music of the day, and classical and jazz training, Karen’s flute playing a convergence of styles. Her father was a jazz tenor saxophonist and vocalist from the 40’s through the 70’s. Being the seventh of eight kids, she heard music her older siblings enjoyed which mostly was Motown. While attending high school she was exposed to rock music like Jimmy Hendricks, the Rolling Stones, and Jethro Tull.
Karen moved to Oakland, California where she got a Bachelors of Art in Music from California State University, Hayward, CA and a Masters in Music from San Francisco State University. While in college she studied with such great teachers as: Paul Renzi, principal flutist of the San Francisco Symphony, Denis de Coteau, musical director of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and Chuck Israel, jazz professor and world-class bassist. She was a member of Chuck’s Little Big Band at Cal State Hayward along with trumpeter and composer Jeff Beal.
Karen’s albums, In The Name Of The Father in 1993, And Of the Son in 1999, and And The Holy Spirit in 2008, a trilogy, reveals technical prowess, a deep knowledge of genres, and a gorgeous flute tone; a tone which is beloved by many.
The Karen Anderson Jazztet was formed in 1991. It was an active San Francisco based acid jazz quartet. Members were John Schott, Guitar, Norbert Stachel, Bass, and Elliot Kavee, Drums.
Karen debuted her first album In The Name Of The Father when she worked in San Francisco as a music therapist at the Laguna Honda Hospital in the Hospice ward. That experience had a big influence on Karen and on the music on that album, including the tracks of “My Funny Valentine” - Rogers and Hart and “Gentle Rain” - Louis Bonfi. Most of the songs were performed regularly for the patients in the hospice who were truly appreciative.
In 1996, Karen married saxophonist Norbert Stachel, who in 1998 became the tenor saxophonist for the band Tower of Power. The Christmas CD And Of The Son was released in 1999 with her married name of Karen Stachel. Twelve versions of Christmas classics are performed in a peaceful, calming, reflective and introspective way. It is mostly solo flute of songs like “The Christmas Song”, “O Holy Night” and the Carpenter’s “Merry Christmas Darling”. A few duets, trios and quartets are included; “Away in a Manger”, “Dance of the Sugar Plumfairies” - Tschaikowsky and “Little Drummer Boy” which Karen overdubbed parts.
In 2002 the Stachels moved to New York City. Karen released her third CD And The Holy Spirit in 2008. Most of the musicians on the CD are people she met at jam sessions around New York City, i.e. Spike Wilner, Dan Nimmer, Dion Tucker, Alex Hernandez, Todd Ishler, Jordan Young, Kenneth Salters, and Juni Booth. Will Bernard, Norbert Stachel, and Dave Phelps contributed their talent also.
All the while playing jazz, Karen consistently plays in orchestras, chamber groups, and musical theatre. She has performed with New Amsterdam Symphony, Broadway Bach Orchestra, Composer’s Orchestra of the City College of New York, San Francisco Concerto Orchestra, Marin Civic Light Opera, Herperian Chamber Orchestra. She is currently involved in the Wayne Shorter album recording of his never before recorded music “Universe” with the Wallace Roney Orchestra.
In 2013 LehCats was formed with her husband Norbert which she co-leads. It is a jazz septet performing original compositions in the style of jazz, world, latin, R & B, classical, and even folk. All compositions are written by herself and Norbert. Their debut album LehCats Out Of The Bag has received a number of acclaimed reviews and helped build a nice buzz about the band.
Karen’s musical influences are Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Ian Andersen, Paul Horn, Dave Valentine, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Jim Croce, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Brahms, Shirley Horn, Nina Simone, and Jean Pierre Rampal to name just a few.