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Blues in Bebop

Kenny Dorham

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Album Review

Kenny Dorham was a solid and forward-thinking modernist when he emerged in the mid-to late 1940s. The trumpeter was overshadowed throughout his career by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard, and became the epitome of the word "underrated." Dorham never recorded as a leader for Savoy other than co-leading the Be Bop Boys with altoist Sonny Stitt, so this single CD is just a sampling of his sideman appearances. Definitely not for completists since all but the Bebop Boys date issued here are incomplete, one wonders who the disc is aimed at, particularly since Dorham's most significant work was made a little later on for Blue Note. The trumpeter is heard with the Billy Eckstine Orchestra playing "The Jitney Man"; performing eight numbers (plus two alternate takes) with the Be Bop Boys (a quintet also including altoist Stitt and pianist Bud Powell); on three songs with a band headed by vibraphonist Milt Jackson and including the pioneer jazz French horn player Julius Watkins; on three tunes from a February 12, 1949 broadcast by the Charlie Parker Quintet (and available in much more complete form elsewhere), and on four of the selections from a 1956 album by baritonist Cecil Payne. The bop and hard bop music heard throughout this CD is consistently enjoyable, but the reissue is a bit of a frivolity. The Be Bop Boys date should have been coupled with some other unrelated all-star sessions instead, with the other Dorham sideman dates being reissued in full in more logical sets.

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