After 40 years as a jazz professional, appearing on several hundred albums as leader and sideman, Kenny Burrell is among the handful of guitar greats who have forever changed the role of their instrument.
Staunch musical integrity and discriminate taste coupled with matchless technique have made the guitarist nonpareil among his peers. “My goal is to play with good tone, good phrasing and to swing,” says Burrell, “I strive for honesty in playing what I feel.”
“Master instrumentalist and composer,” “virtuoso,” “historic figure of American guitar.” “Ellington's favorite guitar player”—this is a typical sampling of the critical praise routinely bestowed on Burrell, who pioneered the guitar-led trio with bass and drums in the late Fifties. Although he has since worked in countless other formats, from big band to three guitars plus rhythm to solo, he has remained constant in his quest to get the most out of a natural, low-volume, acoustic sound. “My audience has developed so that they come to listen and are quiet,” he explains. “Thus I can work in a limited volume range and explore all the subtleties that can happen, which is my favorite part of the music.”
My favorite jazz guitarist of them all have a blessed Birthday.