March 26, 2016

Kenny Dorham - Quiet Kenny

Quiet Kenny is one of those rare trumpet quartet albums. A trumpet doesn't have a wide range of notes and its often shrill tone makes it difficult for an album where the it's the only horn. If a trumpet quartet is the lineup choice, then the horn player has to be flanked with cutting edge sidemen and know how to perfectly place notes and textures to come up with a deep enough atmosphere for the entire album, something saxophone quartet or quintets have an easier time with. Of course Miles Davis was a genius when it came to his creative use of negative space and note and mute choices, but if there was any trumpeter to rival Miles at this game, it's Kenny Dorham. I finally got around to this 1960 cult favorite (it took me a while since it's not a Blue Note), and enjoyed it quite a bit. Dorhman is aided by the coolness of Tommy Flanagan and Paul Chambers and the three set a very likable late night mood. The album is far from either a scorching affair or an extra bluesy piece, but Dorham's soft tone and easy pace sets the band's gears for a relaxing, even-keeled album of hard bop. Kenny picks a few go-to standards, a few more obscure ones, and a few of his own compositions. As his mid-60s stint as the Jazz Messengers' arranger already proved, he was an arranging expert and all the albums he's involved with flow masterfully, including this ballads album.