Detroit legend Kenny Burrell remains a vital guitarist in the mainstream tradition. Over the years he has built a notable catalog, recording for such labels as Columbia, Verve, Argo/Cadet, and Fantasy. However, it’s Burrell’s Blue Note legacy that remains foremost in the minds of his fans and devotees. Now, for the first time ever, the first three Blue Note sessions to come under Burrell’s leadership have been assembled in one place. Issued as Kenny Burrell, Kenny Burrell Volume 2 and K.B. Blues (this later title only coming out previously in Japan), these recordings from February, March, and May of 1956 are included on a two-disc set in the Connoisseur series.
The first disc is devoted exclusively to a quintet date featuring Tommy Flanagan, Paul Chambers, and Kenny Clarke, with Candido adding some congas to the percussive mix. Some strong Burrell originals are included and “Rhythmorama” even finds Clarke and Candido going it alone in a frenzied bacchanal. About half of disc two finds Flanagan back on board, along with Frank Foster making an early appearance on tenor. An all-star assembly distinguishes the final performances as Hank Mobley, Horace Silver, Doug Watkins, and Louis Hayes keep Burrell on his toes for such goodies as “Nica’s Dream.” Even at this early stage of the game, Burrell impresses with a fluid line of attack and heightened sense of musicality that would only continue to blossom with further experience. As an added bonus, both original albums covers, including the cool Andy Warhol sketch that graced the original Kenny Burrell Volume 2, are included in the booklet.
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