More than a quarter-century after his death, Kenny Dorham is a beacon of encouragement shining across the landscape populated by young jazz musicians. In a generation of imitators, a few perceptive players have discovered Dorham’s lyricism, his magic with harmony, the wistfulness of his tone, and his articulation, which is like intimate speech. Dorham’s compositions increasingly make their way into repertoires and his “Blue Bossa” has deservedly become a standard.
KD’s hometown has honored its famous son with the plaque pictured above and a festival named after him. The main event takes place tomorrow night in Fairfield, Texas, a town of 3,000 about halfway between Dallas and Houston. For details and to read about the tribute, see this article in the Freestone County Times.
For a taste of Dorham’s lyricism and ability to construct a cogent melody “right through a chord structure,” as Charlie Shoemake put it after the last time we posted this video, here is a snippet that seems to be the only known film of Dorham performing. His rhythm section at the Golden Circle in Stockholm in 1963 was Goran Lindberg, piano; Goran Peterson, bass; and Leif Wennerstron, drums.
If you’re in the market for a more extensive KD fix, this YouTube page may meet your need.
I love jazz because it is in my blood. It is the only original American art form. It is sacred. The greatest musicians are jazz artists.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 listening to my father's records of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young.
I met Sonny Stitt, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, Walter Booker, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, George Benson, Mike
Stern, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Harper, Skip Hadden, Charlie Haden.
The best show I ever attended was Joe Lovano with Soundprints at the Wexner Center in Columbus Ohio in 2014.
The first jazz record I bought was Miles Smiles.