Kenny Burrell

Kenny Burrell

There's no finer guitar player. There may be somebody else who is as good, but you can't play finer guitar than Kenny Burrell.

     George Benson

A member of a musical family, Kenny Burrell began playing guitar at the age of 12. In 1951, while studying music at Wayne State University, he worked for a month with Dizzy Gillespie's sextet, making his recording debut. After graduating in 1955, he toured with Oscar Peterson, and then moved to New York in 1956.

He soon began performing and recording with many famous players, and established his reputation as an outstanding guitarist. As well as making between 30 and 40 LPs as a leader, he has played as a sideman on about 200 albums, recording in many styles under such leaders as John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Thad Jones, Yusef Lateef, Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Sonny Rollins, Lalo Schiffrin, Jimmy Smith, & Stanley Turrentine.

Burrell performs most frequently in a trio with a double bass player and a drummer. However he has also worked as an unaccompanied soloist, and in larger groups, such as the nine-piece Philip Morris Superband, with which he toured internationally in 1985-86. He has also made recordings on banjo, including Hot and Bothered as a sideman with Mercer Ellington. In addition to performing and recording he has been active as a teacher; he began leading seminars at colleges in 1971, and has taught courses in the music of Duke Ellington at universities around Los Angeles, where he settled in 1972.

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