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.
Currently at Yoshi's Oakland
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Combining great Japanese cuisine and jazz music, Yoshi's Oakland has quickly become one of the… More
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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 Oakland
Yoshi’s began in 1972 as a small, North Berkeley sushi bar owned by it’s founder and namesake, Yoshie Akiba, alongside her two best friends Kaz Kajimura, a journalist and carpenter, and Hiroyuki Hori, a painter and Japanese cook. Over the next 40 years, Yoshi’s built itself into one of the world’s most respected jazz venues, earning a reputation as the Bay Area’s premier location for great Japanese cuisine and jazz music. Today, Yoshi’s is an award-winning 310-seat live performance venue with a state-of-the-art sound system and design, occupying 17,000 square feet in the heart of Oakland’s Jack London Square. Under the guidance of esteemed Artistic Director Michael Pritchard, the venue has expanded it’s focus to include broader genres suitable to a variety of musical tastes.