Professor and legendary jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell: 80 years young

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“My inspiration comes from the message Duke Ellington gave: ‘You are unique, be yourself, put out that thing that is you, then use your work ethic and produce great music.’”

Kenny Burrell, Distinguished Professor of Music and Ethnomusicology and director of UCLA’s Jazz Studies Program, is quick to credit the Duke as a source of inspiration for his extraordinary career. The legendary jazz guitarist has been “putting out that thing” that is uniquely Burrell for more than 60 years. In 1951, while still a student in the music program at Wayne State University, he made his first major recording with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist John Coltrane, vibraphonist Milt Jackson and bassist Percy Heath.

Since then, he has recorded hundreds of albums as leader and sideman with some of the most influential musicians in jazz history, including Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Billy Holiday and Tony Bennett. He has been praised as a “virtuoso” and “master instrumentalist and composer,” voted “Best Guitarist” numerous times by music fans and critics worldwide, won Grammy Awards and been named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.”
Read the full article at Newsroom UCLA.