Kenny Burrell

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Kenny Burrell
Kenny Burrell, 1977.jpg
Kenny Burrell in Buffalo, New York, 1977
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Earl Burrell
Born (1931-07-31) July 31, 1931 (age 83)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Bebop, cool jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1951–present
Labels Blue Note, Prestige, Verve, Fantasy, Fortune Records

Kenneth Earl "Kenny" Burrell (born July 31, 1931[1]) is an American jazz guitarist best known for his 1963 solo album Midnight Blue as well as his collaborations with Jimmy Smith including the 1965 Billboard Top Twenty hit album Organ Grinder Swing.[2][3] Burrell also serves as a professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.


Burrell was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a musical family and began playing guitar at the age of 12. Guitarists who influenced him include Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, and Wes Montgomery. While a student at Wayne State University, he made his recording debut as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's sextet in 1951, following which he recorded the "Ground Round" single at Fortune Records in Detroit. He toured with Oscar Peterson after graduating in 1955 and then moved to New York City in 1956.[1]

A consummate sideman, Burrell has recorded with a wide range of prominent musicians. He has also led his own groups since 1951 and recorded many well-received albums.[1]

In the 1970s he began leading seminars about music, particularly Duke Ellington's. 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.[4]

A highly popular performer, Burrell has won several jazz polls in Japan and the United Kingdom as well as in the United States. He has recorded approximately 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).

As of 1996, Burrell has served as Director of Jazz Studies at UCLA, mentoring such notable alumni as Gretchen Parlato and Kalil Wilson.[5] Burrell teaches a course entitled "Ellingtonia", examining the life and accomplishments of Ellington.


As leader[edit]


As sideman[edit]

With Chet Baker

  • Chet (Riverside, 1959)

With Gene Ammons

With James Brown

With Paul Chambers

With Blossom Dearie

With Bill Evans

With Art Farmer

  • Ph.D. (Contemporary, 1989)

With Frank Foster

  • No 'Count (Savoy, 1956)

With Red Garland

With Terry Gibbs

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Coleman Hawkins

With Eddie Harris

With Johnny Hartman

With Jimmy Heath

With Billie Holiday

With Lena Horne

With Milt Jackson

With Willis Jackson

With Illinois Jacquet

With John Jenkins

With Etta Jones

With Thad Jones

With Wynton Kelly

With Yusef Lateef

With Hubert Laws

With Gildo Mahones

With Herbie Mann

  • Just Wailin' (Prestige, 1958)

With Jack McDuff

With The Prestige All Stars

With Ike Quebec

With Jerome Richardson

With Freddie Roach

With Sonny Rollins

With Charlie Rouse

With Lalo Schifrin

With Jimmy Smith

With Sylvia Syms

With Ed Thigpen

With Cal Tjader

With Stanley Turrentine

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 Kai Winding

With Jimmy Witherspoon


  1. ^ a b c Allmusic Biography
  2. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (11 May 1963). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 16–. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  3. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (20 November 1965). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 143–. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  4. ^ "KENNY BURRELL, 1999". 
  5. ^ "UCLA Ellington Sacred Music Concert". UCLA Department of Jazz. Retrieved 2010-02-24. [dead link]

External links[edit]