[JPL] Jazz review: Stars celebrate Kenny Burrell's birthday at UCLA

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Sun Nov 13 23:08:38 EST 2011


http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/11/jazz-review-stars-celebrate-kenny-burrells-birthday-at-ucla.html

Jazz review: Stars celebrate Kenny Burrell's birthday at UCLA
November 13, 2011 | 12:45 pm

When jazz guitarist and educator Kenny Burrell throws a party at UCLA, 
it's bound to be a marathon of varied musical offerings.  Saturday was 
no exception, as the founder and pilot of the school's jazz department 
celebrated his 80th birthday at Royce Hall.  Musical cameos came from 
many directions and in many forms to perform with and honor the renowned 
figure. Inevitably, the results were diverse.

Composer Lalo Schifrin's piano trio outing was harmonically rich, yet 
unsteady in time and congested in phrasing. A student vocal ensemble 
sang Burrell's "We Must Find a Way to Help Us Love Again," proving that 
as a lyricist, he's a great guitarist.  B.B. King and his eight-piece 
band were bracing for their professionalism and blues authenticity. When 
the two guitarists conversed on the blues, Burrell looked his happiest. 
The addition of singers Stevie Wonder and Dee Dee Bridgewater on 
improvised blues repartee made the concert an event.
Burrell's musical trademark guitar --- with low-volume, clean 
articulation, choice chords and voicings, and a great sense of design to 
each solo --- was present each time he played. He led an outfit of his 
faculty team and the pungent solo and ensemble work of trumpeter Dr. 
Bobby Rodriguez, pianist Llew Matthews, trombonist George Bohanon and 
the others that was so good it begged for more than two numbers. They 
would be tremendous in a club.

Burrell unveiled his new L.A. Jazz Orchestra Unlimited, a sprawling 
student band with a huge string complement; there were five basses 
alone. No less than five composers (including John Williams, John 
Clayton and Burrell himself) wrote the ambitious "Suite For Peace."  
Full of marvelous orchestral harmony, color and movement, it suffered 
from a lack of unification.  Each piece stood alone with scant relation 
to the whole.  The surplus of new musical information was way too much 
to absorb at that hour. With each movement the crowd further thinned.

At the conclusion the house was less than half full, and a scheduled 
all-skate encore was scratched.  At five hours worth of music, that's 
too much birthday.

-- 
Dr. Jazz
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