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KENNY DORHAM and Friends

Featuring Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Rollins

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KENNY DORHAM trumpet with

 Side 1

Cannonball Adderley (as) Cecil Payne (brs) David Amram (frh) Cedar Walton (p) Paul Chambers (b) 

Philly Joe Jones (drs) or Jimmy Cobb (drs #1 only)   

Reeves Sound Studios, NYC; January 20 & February 18, 1959

  1. Blue Spring (6:08)         RLP12-297 JLP-82

  2. Spring Cannon (4:48)                     -                  -

  3. Passion (8:27)                                -                  -

Side 2

Sonny Rollins (ts) Hank Jones (p) Oscar Pettiford (b) Max Roach (drs)

Reeves Sound Studios, NYC; May 21, 1957

  1. I’ll Remember April (12:03)         RLP12-239   JLP-82

  2. Falling in Love with Love (9:10)            -                  -

   KENNY DORHAM is a man who has friends. This is not stated merely to underline the title of this album. For the formidable roster of stars serving as sidemen under Kenny’s recording-studio leadership here, impressive though it is, far from exhausts the list of musicians who can be considered his friends – and friends of his fiery and imaginative talent.

    It does happen to be true that Dorham is affine fellow to make small talk with, or play chess with, or have taste with, or to have as a most willing sideman on your own record date or to come up with an original tune or an arrangement when you need one in hurry – or any other of the many things that a musician might need to call on a friend for. But it is even more importantly true that Dorham has for a long time been one of the finest of all trumpet player.

   Ever since he first made his appearance on the jazz scene, which was during the mid-‘40s heyday of bop (when Kenny was barely twenty years old), he has been able to associate with the best. And he has always done so on sheer merit. For although the general jazz public has never made Dorham a poll-winning idol, fellow jazzmen – from Charlie Parker, with whom he played in the early days, through (for example) the giants who appear with him here – have consistently expressed the utmost appreciation for his artistry. He has long been considered one of the few trumpets who can properly be mentioned in the same breath with Miles Davis and Dizzy; if you doubt this, we’d suggest that you just ask Miles an aspect of Dorham’s t and Dizzy. In short, his colleagues (who, despite what the critics may think, are really a musician’s severest critics) have always known him to be at least an equal, and an invaluable musical “friend”.

   The selections on Side 1 (recorded in January and February of ’59), emphasize and aspect of Dorham’s talents increasingly on display in the record phases of his career: his considerable qualities as composer and arranger. All three of the tunes are written and scored by him for the unusual four-horn instrumentation he conceived for the date. It is a line-up that proves eminently well suited to the buoyant and lively feeling of these numbers: the earthy Blue Spring; the tight-knit, surging Passion; and the soaring Spring Cannon. This last tune in particular spotlights Cannonball Adderley, the top alto star of the day (Kenny notes that it started out to be a cannon – but he changed his mind while writing it, and by altering its form and the spelling of its title, turned it into a piece dedicated to Adderley).

   Cannonball, when these were recorded, was in brilliant form and just on the verge of the swift and continuing rise to the top that came with the formation of his own great quintet. Also on hand is pianist Cedar Walton, most recently featured with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. (Dorham, incidentally, was a charter member of the messenger.) And there is Paul Chambers, one of the finest of modern bassists, joined in the rhythm team on two tracks by formidable Philly Joe Jones (his long-time sidekick in Miles Davis’ group) and on one by Jimmy Cobb, his current Davis’ team-mate.

   The second side is played by an awesomely all-star group, three-fifths of which had at the time (the recording date was in May, 1957) just concluded a long stint together as the nucleus of the Max Roach Quintet. Those three, of course, are Roach, Sonny Rollins and Kenny (who had replaced the late Clifford Brown), and they are joined by the equally impressive Hank Jones and the late Oscar Pettiford, one of the greatest of all bassists.

   Rollins, who then as now was unsurpassed as an inventive tenor man, is thoroughly and happily at home on these two extended ‘blowing’ tracks, which are in the swinging medium-to-up tempo range favored by that Roach group. All concerned, and the two horns in particular, demonstrate and ability to play jazz that is not only exciting but meaningful and uncliched – even at speeds at which most musicians have to devote all their attention and energy to merely trying to hit all the notes. (For special kicks,note how Dorham and Pettiford spur each other through the opening chorus of the rip-snorting I’ll Remember April.)

   Altogether, Mr. Dorham and his several friends were obviously having a fine time on these days, and you’ll surely have the same sort of time listening to them.    - PETER DREW

Kenny is also prominently featured on –

Starting Time: Clifford Jordan Quintet, with Kenny Dorham (JLP-52; stereo 952)

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RLP12-239    LP12-297

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Recording engineer: Jack Higgins (Reeves Sound Studios) Re-mastered, 1962, at Plaza Sound Studios.

Album design and cover photo: Ken Deardoff. Back-liner photo: Lawrence N. Shustak.

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