Guitarist Kenny Burrell, 25 at the time, is heard during one of his earlier sessions playing in his already recognizable straight-ahead style with a quintet that also features the underrated baritonist Cecil Payne, pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Elvin Jones. This album is a bit brief in time (just over 36 minutes) but contains plenty of fine swinging on tunes such as "Don't Cry Baby," "Drum Boogie," "All of You" and Bud Powell's "Strictly Confidential." It's enjoyable music.
One of the great jam session recordings of the 1950s, All Night Long was under the relaxed direction of Kenny Burrell. The guitarist gathered together some of the finest young players on the New York scene, including Donald Byrd on trumpet and tenor saxophonists Hank Mobley and Jerome Richardson, one of the unsung heroes of the flute in jazz. Mal Waldron, Doug Watkins and Arthur Taylor were the rhythm section. The musical formats were uncomplicated; "All Night Long" a blues with a bridge, Waldron's "Flickers" a 16-bar pattern, Mobley's two originals based on familiar 32-bar chord sequences. From these simple, classic bases were launched performances with the hallmarks that have long identified any Burrell project: Relaxation, swing and high standards of musicianship.
Recorded 1956-1957. Although the original LP was reissued under guitarist Kenny Burrell's name, it was originally led by Frank Wess, who is heard doubling on flute and tenor. With the assistance of Burrell, rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Eddie Jones and either Kenny Clarke or Gus Johnson on drums, Wess is in excellent form on a set very reminiscent (not too surprisingly considering the personnel) of the Count Basie band. Wess contributed four of the songs, Burrell brought in "Southern Exposure" and the quintet also plays "Over the Rainbow" and the obscure "Woolafunt's Lament." This is a fine straightahead date, with Wess's flute taking solo honors.
A leaderless sextet jams on four of pianist Mal Waldron's originals; the performances range from eight to 12 minutes apiece. The all-star lineup (trumpeter Thad Jones, Frank Wess on tenor and flute, guitarist Kenny Burrell, Waldron, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor) is in fine form on the straightahead material and bop fans will want to pick up this reissue CD.
The jazz jam session has always been reserved for in-concert or club performances. Where these 1956-1957 recordings from guitarist Kenny Burrell and his all-star septet and sextet differ is that they were made in the confines of Rudy Van Gelder's recording studio, where the musicians were able to stretch out on two of the most memorable modern long-distance jam sessions of all time - All Night Long and All Day Long. Initially available as individual LPs and then together as a two-fer, this is a welcome reissue, showcasing perhaps the finest collective groups the Detroiter ever fronted. The extended aforementioned title tracks, with ample solo room for these individualists, were the best friends of after-hours radio DJs, and in the case of All Day, very danceable…
After its original release on Cadet Records in 1966, Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas was out of print for years until a 1992 reissue. With pensive, meditative, precise playing, it's a must-have and features a definitive jazz hit version of "Little Drummer Boy."
When it comes to Kenny Burrell, a title like Blues - The Common Ground speaks volumes. His approach always keeps in mind the connection of jazz to the blues, infusing his guitar with a soulful, hard bop edge. Recorded in 1967 and 1968, Blues - The Common Ground finds Burrell backed by lots of brass and wind instruments for most of the album, hardly his usual setting. But his guitar successfully weaves in and out of songs like "Every Day (I Have the Blues)" and "Burning Spear," blending with the band and creating a pleasant balance. Much of this works thanks to arranger Don Sebesky's tasteful settings. Sebesky seems to have an instinctive grasp of when to sit on the band and when to let it fly loose…
This is a typically tasteful Kenny Burrell record with the guitarist mostly emphasizing ballads. Five of the seven songs (which include "Make Someone Happy," "Since I Fell for You" and the theme from "A Streetcar Named Desire") find Burrell assisted by pianist Richard Wyands (who also played electric piano), bassist Reggie Johnson and drummer Lenny McBrowne. "'Round Midnight" is played by Burrell with pianist Joe Sample, bassist Johnson and drummer Paul Humphrey while "Blues in the Night" is an unaccompanied guitar solo. Although the music overall is well-played, no real sparks fly and the results often border on being sleepy.
For his final Prestige-related session as a sideman, John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Kenny Burrell (guitar) are supported by an all-star cast of Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), and Tommy Flanagan (piano). This short but sweet gathering cut their teeth on two Flanagan compositions, another two lifted from the Great American Songbook, and a Kenny Burrell original. Flanagan's tunes open and close the album, with the spirited "Freight Trane" getting the platter underway. While not one of Coltrane's most assured performances, he chases the groove right into the hands of Burrell.