Kenny Dorham blast: from early bebop to hard bop!

At the beginning of this last summer, the marvelous pianist Bill Charlap started getting on my case. Bill has been a good friend since his high school days, when he was a member of the Young Sounds jazz program I directed for Local 802 of the American Federation Of Musicians. Bill is now the Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University. After the last school year was over, he started calling me, wanting as much Kenny Dorham music as I could give him. For the upcoming fall semester, he wanted the students at the school to be exposed to as much Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson as possible.

I told Bill that now, with, I'm able to delve deeper in an organized way into K.D.'s compositions than I ever could before. Look at how Kenny developed his masterpiece Lotus Blossom, for example. There are six recordings tracing his progress. The seventh recording is our own K.D. Challenge project recording, with complete Minus You audio tracks available. Horn Salute, Monaco and Brown's Town are three new additions to the K.D. Challenge project.

Please also check out our other great Kenny Dorham additions: Stage West, Karioka, Blue Ching, Blues For Jackie, Jung Fu, Dead End and Echo Of Spring. Details on all are below.

There are still more great K.D. compositions to come, and believe me, Charlap will be on my case until they're available for everyone to play. As Michael Cuscuna wrote, "How does one perceive a man whose creative talents span big bands, the very origins of bebop, the founding of funk and hard bop and participation in the experimentation of Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane and Andrew Hill?" The answer is!

Use the links above or read on for details on each new title.

Blue Ching
K.D. wrote this stop-time blues head for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, as a showcase for their trademark dynamic range. Second parts and rhythm section parts are available for this quintet arrangement.

Blues For Jackie
This blues head from an obscure Jackie McLean session is classic K.D., with tasty stop-time figures and chord substitutions.

Brown's Town
A stop-time medium swinger originally recorded by Kenny Dorham with sax icon Joe Henderson. Our  K.D. Challenge version has Minus You tracks for all instruments.

Dead End
This early Kenny Dorham composition shows his bebop roots. He played it with Charlie Parker in the '40s but it wasn't recorded until Red Rodney's version in 1979. Check out the Historical Notes to learn why.

Echo Of Spring
A relatively early Kenny Dorham composition in a melodic bebop-ish bag. It's also known as K.D.'s Cab Ride but Echo Of Spring is Kenny's title. From Kenny's Afro-Cuban album, the bridge has a Latin groove. The Concert Condensed Score shows the bridge counter melody.

Horn Salute
A very intriguing Kenny Dorham composition, with lots of question-and-answer activity and interplay between the melody and rhythm section, plus a unique soloist challenge: K.D. continues his composition through the first 14 measures of each soloist, integrating a super-slick written rhythmic bass line with stop and go figures for the rest of the rhythm section. Our K.D. Challenge version has separate Minus You audio tracks for each instrumentalist.

Jung Fu
Related to Lotus Blossom, this song takes the same thematic material in a more modal direction. It comes from Kenny's last recording as a leader, but was released only recently. The Condensed Score editions show melody, harmony and rhythm section activity.

A hard-driving medium-up composition that K.D. never recorded, Karioka comes from an early Freddie Hubbard album. A full set of parts are available for this quintet arrangement.

Lotus Blossom
An important Kenny Dorham work that he revisited quite a few times, performing and recording it in many different settings and arrangements. This may be overwhelming, but we feel it's necessary to show you seven different recordings (two were recorded under the title Asiatic Raes). These different treatments show Kenny's inexhaustible inventiveness. We suggest that you first click on each record jacket and listen to each audio clip. You'll hear why we've had to hit you with all of them at once! Condensed scores are available for five versions, while melody and rhythm section editions (and audio!) are available for our Minus You K.D. Challenge version to help you get inside this masterpiece. Check out the Minus You tab!

The magic of this composition is fully realized in Kenny's multi-tempo arrangement. Kenny's original melody treatment (recorded live at the Cafe Bohemia) for both the master and alternate takes has been transcribed, for B-flat and C instruments. Everyone can explore this dramatic Latin/swing arrangement themselves through the Minus You tracks in our K.D. Challenge editions.

Stage West
A tour de force on the uptempo blues, with a head four choruses long and a send-off for the solos. All parts of the quintet arrangement are available.


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