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Kenny Burrell

Kenny Burrell
Kenny Burrell in Buffalo, New York, 1977
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Earl Burrell
Born (1931-07-31) July 31, 1931
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Bebop, Hard bop, Soul jazz, Cool jazz, Blues
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, educator
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1951–present
Labels Blue Note, Prestige, Verve, Fantasy, Fortune Records

Kenneth Earl "Kenny" Burrell (born July 31, 1931) is an American Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt as influences, along with blues musicians T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters.[1][2][3][4][5] Burrell also serves as a professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.[6]


  • Biography 1
  • Awards 2
  • Discography 3
    • As leader 3.1
    • Compilations 3.2
    • As sideman 3.3
  • References 4


Burrell was born in Detroit, Michigan; both of his parents played instruments,[7] and he began playing guitar at the age of 12. He went on to study composition and theory with Louis Cabara and classical guitar with Joe Fava. While a student at Wayne State University, he made his recording debut as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's sextet in 1951, followed by the "Rose of Tangier/Ground Round" single recorded under his own name at Fortune Records in Detroit. While at university, Burrell founded the New World Music Society collective with fellow Detroit musicians Pepper Adams, Donald Byrd, Elvin Jones, and Yusef Lateef.[1][2][3][6]

Burrell toured with Oscar Peterson after graduating in 1955[7] and then moved to New York City in 1956 with pianist Tommy Flanagan. Within months, Burrell had recorded his first album as leader for Blue Note and both he and Flanagan were sought-after as sidemen and studio musicians, performing with singers Tony Bennett and Lena Horne and recording with Billie Holiday, Jimmy Smith, Gene Ammons, and Kenny Dorham, among others. From 1957 to 1959, Burrell occupied the former chair of Charlie Christian in Benny Goodman's band. Since his New York debut Burrell has had a prolific recording career, and critics have cited The Cats with John Coltrane in 1957, Midnight Blue with Stanley Turrentine in 1963, and Guitar Forms with arranger Gil Evans in 1965 as particular highlights.[1][2][3]

In 1978, he began teaching a course at UCLA called "Ellingtonia," examining the life and accomplishments of Duke Ellington. Although the two never collaborated directly, Ellington called Burrell his "favorite guitarist", and Burrell has recorded a number of tributes to and interpretations of Ellington's works. Since 1996, Burrell has served as Director of Jazz Studies at UCLA, mentoring such notable alumni as Gretchen Parlato and Kamasi Washington.[3][6][8][9]


Burrell has won several jazz polls in Japan and the United Kingdom as well as in the United States. Burrell wrote, arranged, and performed on the 1998 Grammy Award-winning album Dear Ella by Dee Dee Bridgewater, received the 2004 Jazz Educator of the Year Award from Down Beat, and was named a 2005 NEA Jazz Master.[3]


As leader


As sideman

With Nat Adderly

With Mose Allison

  • Ever Since the World Ended (Blue Note, 1987)

With Gene Ammons

With Ernestine Anderson

With Louis Armstrong

With Sil Austin and Red Prysock

  • Battle Royale (Mercury, 1959)

With Chet Baker

'With Ray Barretto

  • Portraits in Jazz and Clave (RCA, 2000)

With Bill Barron

  • West Side Story Bossa Nova (Dauntless, 1963)

With Tony Bennett

With Andy Bey

  • Now! Hear! (Prestige, 1964)
  • 'Round Midnight (Prestige, 1965)

With Betty Blake

  • Betty Blake Sings in a Tender Mood (Bethlehem, 1960)

With Eddie Bonnemere

  • Jazz Orient Ed (Prestige, 1964)

With Pat Bowie

  • Out of Sight! (Prestige, 1965)

With Dee Dee Bridgewater

With Ronnell Bright

  • Bright's Spot (Savoy, 1956)

With James Brown

With Ray Brown

  • Some of My Best Friends Are ... Guitarists (Telarc, 2002)

With Donald Byrd

With Betty Carter

With Paul Chambers

With Sonny Clark

With Chris Connor

  • Chris Connor Sings Ballads of the Sad Café (Atlantic, 1959)
  • In Person (Atlantic, 1959)

With Blossom Dearie

With Kenny Dorham

With Bill Evans

With Gil Evans

With Art Farmer

  • Ph.D. (Contemporary, 1989)

With Tommy Flanagan

With Frank Foster

  • No 'Count (Savoy, 1956)

With Aretha Franklin

With Red Garland

With Stan Getz

  • Reflections (Verve, 1963)
  • Getz Au Go Go (Verve, 1965)
  • What the World Needs Now: Stan Getz Plays Bacharach and David (Verve, 1968)

With Terry Gibbs

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Paul Gonsalves

With Babs Gonzales

  • Tales of Manhattan: The Cool Philosophy of Babs Gonzales (Jaro, 1959)

With Sandy Graham

  • Comes Love (Jazz Link Enterprises, 2000)

With Roland Hanna

  • Destry Rides Again (ATCO, 1959)

With Nancy Harrow

  • Wild Women Don't Have the Blues (Candid, 1961)

With Coleman Hawkins

With Eddie Harris

With Gene Harris

  • World Tour 1990 (Concord Jazz, 1990)

With Johnny Hartman

With Jimmy Heath

With Johnny Hodges

With Jay Hoggard

  • The Fountain (Muse, 1991)

With Billie Holiday

With Shirley Horn

With Lena Horne

With Milt Jackson

With Willis Jackson

With Illinois Jacquet

  • The Cool Rage (Verve, 1958)
  • The Message (Argo, 1963)
  • Desert Winds (Argo, 1964)
  • Birthday Party (Groove Note, 1999)

With John Jenkins

With Budd Johnson

  • French Cookin' (Argo, 1963)

With Etta Jones

With Hank Jones

With Quincy Jones

With Thad Jones

With Taft Jordan

  • Mood Indigo (Moodsville, 1961)

With Bev Kelly

  • Love Locked Out (Riverside, 1960)

With Wynton Kelly

With Joe Kennedy, Jr.

  • Strings by Candlelight (CAP, 1962)

With B.B. King

With Yusef Lateef

With Hubert Laws

With The Leiber–Stoller Big Band

  • Yakety Yak (Atlantic, 1960)

With Melba Liston

  • Melba Liston and Her 'Bones (MetroJazz, 1959)

With Gloria Lynne

  • Miss Gloria Lynne (Everest, 1958)

With Gildo Mahones

With Herbie Mann

  • Just Wailin' (Prestige, 1958)

With Jack McDuff

With Gary McFarland

  • The Jazz Version of "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" (Verve, 1961)

With Jimmy McGriff

With Wes Montgomery

With Frank Morgan

With Maria Muldaur

With Dave Pike

With Billie Poole

  • Confessin' the Blues! (Riverside, 1963)

With The Prestige All Stars

With Ike Quebec

With Jerome Richardson

  • Midnight Oil (New Jazz, 1958)

With Freddie Roach

With Sonny Rollins

With Charlie Rouse

With Vanessa Rubin

  • I'm Glad There Is You: A Tribute to Carmen McRae (Novus, 1994)

With A. K. Salim

With Lalo Schifrin

With Carol Sloane

  • Love You Madly (Contemporary, 1988)

With Jimmy Smith

With Dakota Staton

  • Time to Swing (Capitol, 1959)

With Sylvia Syms

  • Sylvia Is! (Prestige, 1965)
  • Then Along Came Bill: A Tribute to Bill Evans (DRG, 1989)

With Ed Thigpen

With Cal Tjader

  • Warm Wave (Verve, 1964)
  • Soul Sauce (Verve, 1965)

With Stanley Turrentine

With Dinah Washington

With Doug Watkins

  • Watkins at Large (Transition, 1956)

With Frank Wess

  • North, South, East... Wess (Savoy, 1956)
  • Opus in Swing (Savoy, 1956)

With Randy Weston

With Joe Williams

  • Jump for Joy (RCA Victor, 1963)
  • Me and the Blues (RCA Victor, 1964)

With Kai Winding

With Jimmy Witherspoon

With Leo Wright


  1. ^ a b c Allmusic Biography
  2. ^ a b c Cohassey, John. "Kenny Burrell: Guitarist, Educator." Contemporary Musicians. Profiles of the People in Music. Ed. Julia M. Rubiner. Vol. 11. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1994. 29-31. Print
  3. ^ a b c d e Nash, Sunny. "Kenny Burrell Biography." PRLog, 13 May 2009. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.
  4. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (11 May 1963). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 16–.  
  5. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (20 November 1965). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 143–.  
  6. ^ a b c O'Connell, Sean J. "To Preserve 'America's Gift To The World,' A Jazz Elder Becomes A UCLA Professor." A Blog Supreme. NPR, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.
  7. ^ a b Sallis, James. "Middle Ground: Herb Ellis, Howard Roberts, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Tal Farlow." Jazz Guitars: An Anthology. First ed. New York: Quill, 1984. 197-207. Print.
  8. ^ "Jazz Studies Faculty"
  9. ^ "KENNY BURRELL, 1999". 
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