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Into the Night with Kenny Burrell on his 81st Birthday!

So after I read this morning that it wasKenny Burrell’s birthday, I listened to a mix of his guitar work this morning and as always it was great!

Burrell was born in Detroit, Michigan to a musical family and began playing guitar at the age of 12. From his biography 

Kenny, who credits Charlie Christian, Oscar Moore, and Django Reinhardt as influences, as well as such bluesmen as T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters, played on his first major recording session in Detroit in 1951 with a Dizzy Gillespie combo that included John Coltrane, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath.

Not bad for a young 20 year old, eh? Burrell has done everything in the jazz world from being a sideman, to leading various trios, to being a great composer. Again from his bio:

 Kenny Burrell is also a prolific composer whose work is more and more in demand. Kenny is composer of the 1998 Grammy Award winning song “Dear Ella”, performed by Dee Dee Bridgewater. His compositions have been recorded by many other great artists such as Ray Brown, Jimmy Smith, Grover Washington Jr., John Coltrane, June Christy, Frank Wes and Stevie Ray Vaughn. More recently, he recieved a commission grant from Meet the Composer, Inc. to write an original, extended composition for the Boys Choir of Harlem which premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center, and in 1997 was recorded for Concord Records.

He has recorded about 106 albums, including Midnight Blue (1963), Blue Lights, Guitar Forms, Sunup To Sundown (1990), Soft Winds (1993), Then Along Came Kenny (1993), and Lotus Blossom (1995). My introduction to his music was Blues – the Common Ground (Verve, 1968)  which has always been a favorite!

Since1996, Burrell has served as Director of Jazz Studies at UCLA, mentoring such notable alumni as Gretchen Parlato and Kalil Wilson. Burrell teaches a course titled “Ellingtonia”, examining the life and accomplishments of Duke Ellington.

So on his 81st birthday, let’s go into the night with the great guitar of Kenny Burrell…. Happy Birthday, Kenny!

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