Kenny Burrell

Kenny Burrell

Electric Guitar icon Electric Guitar

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92 age

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July 31, 1931 Birthday

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Detroit, Michigan, U.S. Birthplace

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Kenny Burrell is a well respected jazz guitarist and composer active since the 1950s through today. His understated style, grounded in bebop and blues, make him a sought after collaborator. He has recorded over 100 albums under his own name and several hundred with other artists. He founded and served as director of the Jazz Studies program at UCLA in 1996 where he continues to be a distinguished professor and was named a NEA Jazz Master in 2005.


A metal shortage during WWII prompted Burrell to abandon the idea of playing saxophone and instead buy a $10 acoustic guitar.Burrell's first professional recording was with Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Percy Heath and Milt Jackson in 1951.He is a recognized expert on Duke Ellington and created the first regular course on the composer, called Ellingtonia, in 1978.

Early Life

Kenny Burrell was born in Detroit in 1931 and grew up in a musical family with both of his parents playing instruments . Burrell began playing the guitar at 12 and soon began playing gigs around Detroit. He attended Wayne State university and graduated in 1955 with a degree in music and composition. Shortly after graduating he moved to New York with his good friend, pianist Tommy Flanagan, and began playing with some of the era's most famous artists including Tony Bennet and Lena Horne.