Kenny Drew

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Kenny Drew
Kenny Drew.jpg
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Sidney Drew
Born (1928-08-28)August 28, 1928
New York City, New York, US
Died August 4, 1993(1993-08-04) (aged 64)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Genres Jazz, post-bop, hard bop, mainstream jazz
Instruments Piano
Labels Blue Note
Soul Note
Associated acts Coleman Hawkins

Kenneth Sidney "Kenny" Drew (August 28, 1928 – August 4, 1993) was an American jazz pianist.


Drew was born in New York City in 1928 and received piano lessons from the age of five.[1] He attended The High School of Music & Art in Manhattan. Drew's first recording, in 1950, was with Howard McGhee, and over the next two years he worked in bands led by Buddy DeFranco, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Charlie Parker, among others.[1] After a brief period with his own trio in California, Drew returned to New York, playing with Dinah Washington, Johnny Griffin, Buddy Rich, and several others over the following few years.[1] He led many recording sessions throughout the '50s, and in 1957 appeared on John Coltrane's album Blue Train.

Drew was one of several American jazz musicians who settled in Europe around this period: he moved to Paris in 1961 and to Copenhagen three years later.[1] While he sacrificed much of the interest of the American jazz audience, he gained a wide following across Europe. Kenny Drew was a well-known figure on the Copenhagen jazz scene, recording many sessions with the Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. "Living in Copenhagen, and travelling out from there," Drew remarked, "I have probably worked in more different contexts than if I had stayed in New York where I might have got musically locked in with a set-group of musicians. This way, I have been able to keep my musical antennas in shape, while at the same time I have had more time to study and also get deeper into my own endeavors."[2]

Drew and Dexter Gordon appeared on screen in Ole Ege's theatrically released hardcore pornographic film Pornografi – en musical (1971), for which they composed and performed the score.[3]

Drew died in 1993 and was interred in the Assistens Cemetery in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. He has a street named after him in southern Copenhagen, "Kenny Drews Vej" (Eng., Kenny Drew Street).

His son, Kenny Drew, Jr., was also a jazz pianist.

Playing style[edit]

His touch was described in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz as "precise", and his playing as being a combination of bebop-influenced melodic improvisation and block chords, including "refreshingly subtle harmonizations".[1]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Gene Ammons

With Svend Asmussen

  • Prize/Winners (1978)

With Chet Baker

With Art Blakey

With Tina Brooks

With Clifford Brown

With John Coltrane

With Ted Curson

With Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

With Kenny Dorham

With Teddy Edwards

With Art Farmer

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Dexter Gordon

With Grant Green

With Johnny Griffin

With Ernie Henry

With Ken McIntyre

With Jackie McLean

With Ray Nance

With Rita Reys

With Sonny Rollins

Wíth Sahib Shihab

With Sonny Stitt

With Toots Thielmans

With Ben Webster

  • Stormy Weather (1970)

With Tiziana Ghiglioni


  1. ^ a b c d e Feather, Leonard, & Ira Gitler (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ February 1976 liner notes to Morning by Jørgen Frigård.
  3. ^ Jazz on the Screen.

External links[edit]