Kenny Dorham – Quiet Kenny – New Jazz/Craft Recordings CR 00347 – 180 gm audiophile vinyl – Mono – 1959 – ****
(Kenny Dorham – trumpet – Tommy Flanagan – piano – Paul Chambers – bass – Art Taylor – drums)
There are many jazz instrumentalists who are woefully underrated. This can be for several reasons. Oftentimes they are either located outside of New York City, and are under the radar of jazz critics. Other reasons are that their active period was during the time that others (i.e. Miles Davis, John Coltrane) dominated the scene. Or perhaps they were on the shy side, and did not get many sessions as a leader, while not actively promoting their cause.
Such is the case with trumpeter, Kenny Dorham. His Blue Note and OJC label dates were well respected, but since he was not known as a “fiery” player, his lack of “fireworks” kept his stature among jazz fans lower than it should have been. Dorham’s forte was playing ballads, and mid-register material.
Kenny’s career goes back to the 1940s. He played with Dizzy Gillespie in 1945, and then was featured with the big bands of Lionel Hampton and Billy Eckstine. He then spent time with Charlie Parker.
His album, Quiet Kenny, recorded in 1959, showcases his talents. It has been re-released for the upcoming Record Store Day, by Craft Recordings, a subsidiary of Concord Records. It was Kenny’s first album fronting a quartet, and as the solo soloist. Backing Dorham is Tommy Flanagan, an equally sensitive musician, on piano. Completing the rhythm section are veterans, Paul Chambers on bass, and Art Taylor on drums. Each one of the quartet also led groups on their own over the years.
Song selection is mostly standards, but includes a few Dorham originals. “Lotus Blossom” is given a Latin tinge. Kenny glides over the changes, and Flanagan has a masterful solo utilizing his classy light touch. “My Ideal” is a gentle ballad, made well known by Coleman Hawkins. Its late night vibe would be welcome in an intimate club setting.
“Blue Friday” would check all the bases as a hard bop treasure. It’s a sanctified blues written by Dorham, that has an instant feel good groove, with Paul Chamber’s bass, tightly in the pocket. “Alone Together,” which Kenny played often with “Bird,” is reflective. Dorham pours out his heart, almost in remembrance of a departed dear friend.
“Blue Spring Shuffle,” also a Kenny original, is uptempo and sprightly, and shows his mastery of mid-register material. Tommy Flanagan’s classy touch is on full display on the standard, “I Had the Craziest Dream.” “Old Folks” closes out the album. It’s a paean to the elderly among us. It’s a fitting close to an album of tunes that Kenny chose for their sentimental value.
This release is being released in Mono, and its remastering from the original tapes, was done by Kevin Gray from Cohearant Audio. The acoustics are warm and crystal clear. For late night listening it would be a sure fire winner. It showcases the ballad playing of Kenny Dorham, a vastly underappreciated trumpeter.
Blue Spring Shuffle
I Had the Craziest Dream
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