Kenny Burrell 80th Birthday Celebration at Yoshi's
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The last date listed for Kenny Burrell was Sunday July 31, 2011 / 9:00pm.
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Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from D. Ch'an-MoriwakiRed Velvet
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So lucky to catch the late show, the last set, the last day, in the closing current gig at Yoshi’s Jack London Square. For “Kenny Burrell’s 80th Birthday Celebration,” this final set was THE performance to be at, when Burrell and the Jazz Heritage All-Stars became what amounted to a fully fledged, big 16-piece band swinging bebop and blues, called the Intergrand Orchestra.
Longtime master of the jazz guitar, Mr. Burrell celebrated his birth anniversary with top pupils from his UCLA classes where he is on the music faculty, teaching jazz guitar and performance. The ultimate brag book for any great musician and educator is, of course, to be able to show off his protégés, his future ‘all-stars,’ to audiences in the wider world outside. This late show at Yoshi’s was their showcase, displaying awesome (truly and literally) talent and musicianship. Because universities and conservatories across the land have now established jazz in the music curriculum --- and such distinguished musicians as Kenny Burrell contribute profoundly to the future of the genre --- today’s young jazz musicians are thus musically literate, technically, and the evidence was in seeing these young people sight-reading off their charts with sure poise and confidence, electrifying the room with the burning thrill of their improvisation.
The band blazing away up-tempo, the really sweet moments in the set were during the slow, mellow solo Burrell took. A distinctive feature of his sound is his harmonic richness and subtlety, and it was most noticeable in the introspective, acoustic number he played alone, to a hushed, single-hearted audience. Thanks to the amping electric guitar provides, Kenny’s harmonics and phrasing --- whose cool, hot jazz began in Detroit and during the Dizzy Gillespie years --- don’t get lost within the horns of his group, nor bulldozed under the massed sonorities of the band, the harmonies clearly and beautifully sustaining and backing the instrumental chords and their changes. The only disappointment was that they didn’t do anything in Burrell’s scintillating and delicious salsa and bossa nova rhythms.
What the public doesn’t see is the stress performing musicians acquire and accumulate through years of instrument idiosyncrasies --- and the guitar, with its gentle voice, may thus be especially gentle in everyday wear-and-tear on stamina and body. Easy on the years, looking like a man a good 20 under his 80, with the vibrancy and vitality, quickness and wit to match, Burrell is going strong. We sang Kenny a bluesy, original happy-birthday ditty composed by Bobby Rodriguez, (the fabulous trumpeter is also a UCLA professor of music like Burrell), backed by all the musicians and applauded by all around.
May Kenny Burrell continue to prevail long in such perfection! And may the young musicians of the Intergrand Orchestra fly, full and free, when they leave the nest of their schooling. Bravo!
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Simply the best jazz band I have heard in years! IN the first 5 mintes, my friend leaned over to me and mouthed the words thankyou as you could tell from the first note that this was going to be first rate sound! Every single note sang and we were...continued
Quotes & Highlights
“The greatest guitarist in jazz history.”—Time
Kenny Burrell is among a handful of guitarists who have forever changed the role of the instrument in jazz. For over fifty years, his distinct style, tone, and phrasing have graced recordings and performances by almost every major performer in jazz history. Combine a consummate sense of swing, lush tones with harmonic creativity and you have the one-and-only jazz guitar artistry of this legendary figure in jazz. From his early years as a sideman with the likes of John Coltrane, Jimmy Smith, James Moody and more, Burrell has always been swinging. Kenny played on his first major recording session in Detroit in 1951, with a Dizzy Gillespie combo that included John Coltrane, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath and this living legend continues to be a towering giant of jazz. He is a master improviser, prolific composer and distinguished educator.
About the Ticket Supplier: Yoshi's OaklandYoshi's began in 1973 as a small, North Berkeley sushi bar owned by a trio of struggling students with plenty of dreams. Its founder and namesake, Yoshie Akiba, orphaned during World War II, came to the U.S. to study fine arts, dance and dance therapy. She opened Yoshi's Japanese Restaurant with her two best friends Kaz Kajimura, a journalist and carpenter, and Hiroyuki Hori, a painter and Japanese cook. The original North-Berkeley, 25-seat restaurant quickly became successful and by 1977 the three partners moved to a larger space on Claremont Avenue in Oakland and began introducing live music in their restaurant. Over the next 20 years, Yoshi's built itself into one of the world's most respected jazz venues and won a reputation as the Bay Area's premier location for people who were looking for great food and the best jazz. Yoshi's has hosted legendary jazz greats such as Betty Carter, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Harry Connick Jr. and Oscar Peterson among hundreds of others.
In 1997, Yoshi's was invited by the Port of Oakland to relocate to Jack London Square as part of a plan to revitalize the area. Together with Morimoto Architects, Yoshi's built an award-winning 330-seat jazz club with a state-of-the-art sound system and design. Occupying 17,000 square feet in the heart of Jack London Square, the club is in it's tenth year in that location which has become one of the East Bay's greatest destinations. The restaurant and lounge have a combined capacity of 220. In 1998 Peter Williams was hired as the club's artistic director. Under his leadership, the club has continued to present the finest in jazz music, as well as world music, blues, neo-soul, latin jazz and afro-cuban music. In fall of 2006, Kajimura decided that it was time to elevate the menu to the quality of the jazz by recruiting Executive Chef Shotaro 'Sho' Kamio, one of the Bay Area's top chefs to make the change. Chef Kamio (formerly of Ozumo) brought a whole new generation of modern Japanese cuisine to Yoshi's, which instantly put it on the map as a destination to dine in addition to the best place to hear great live music.