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The Flamboyan, Queens, NY, 1963

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Album Review

Kenny Dorham was a promising trumpeter whose career was sidetracked by drug problems that caused his cabaret card to be revoked (preventing bookings in Manhattan jazz clubs) and also led to his premature death from kidney disease in 1972. This 1963 aircheck from a broadcast MCed by Alan Grant at the Flamboyan in Queens, New York, is a rare opportunity to hear Dorham as a leader playing live. Joining him is tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, who had appeared on the leader's Una Mas while also using the trumpeter on his Blue Note album Page One, the latter recorded less than two weeks before this broadcast. Utilizing a pickup rhythm section, since there wasn't sufficient work for them to keep a regular group going, consisting of pianist Ronnie Mathews, bassist Steve Davis (who had worked with John Coltrane), and drummer J.C. Moses, the quintet kicks off with Mathews' loping "Dorian." One oddity is that Dorham's snappy Latin vehicle "Una Mas" (which has long since become a jazz standard) is introduced as "My Injun from Brazil"; in any case, his sassy horn never sounded better. The trumpeter and tenor saxophonist shine in the introspective, bluesy treatment of "Summertime," while Henderson and Mathews take the spotlight in an extended take of "Autumn Leaves." The quintet wraps the broadcast with a breezy finale, "Dynamo," a breezy bop vehicle based on "I Got Rhythm" changes, though it is faded before its conclusion. The audio is quite good for the era, with lots of period photographs and in-depth liner notes by Bob Blumenthal, which causes the rather thick booklet to be challenging to remove from the jewel box. This is a delightful historical treasure that bop fans will enjoy.

Biography

Born: 30 August 1924 in Fairfield, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Kenny Dorham had a deeply moving, pure tone on trumpet; his sound was clear, sharp, and piercing, especially during ballads. He could spin out phrases and lines, but when he slowly and sweetly played the melody it was an evocative event. Dorham was a gifted all-round trumpeter, but seldom showcased his complete skills, preferring an understated, subtle approach. Unfortunately, he never received much publicity, and...
Full Bio