Kenny Dorham - Quiet Kenny

Kenny Dorham Quiet Kenny (New Jazz 1960)

Less is more on Kenny Dorham’s Quiet Kenny, more or less the trumpeter’s most beautiful record as a leader.

Kenny Dorham - Quiet Kenny


Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Art Taylor (drums)


on November 13, 1959 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as NJ 8225 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Lotus Blossom
My Ideal
Blue Friday
Side B:
Alone Together
Blue Spring Shuffle
I Had The Craziest Dream
Old Folks

An anecdote that Rein de Graaff once told me concerned his first ever visit to New York City in 1967. The first thing that the burgeoning Dutch pianist and hard bop aficionado noticed when he stepped out of the subway station in the East Village was a fellow with a trumpet case that was the spitting image of Kenny Dorham. As a matter of fact, after politely inquiring, it turned out to be the one and only Kenny Dorham. Dorham invited the dumbfounded De Graaff to a gig the following night. The rest is history in the case of De Graaff, who stepped into a dream and subsequently met and played with Dorham, Hank Mobley, Barry Harris, Paul Chambers and Billy Higgins. Nice career boost.

Most people would not have recognized Dorham, one of the great modern trumpeters of a form of art whose geniuses like Parker and Monk eluded mass recognition for so long, let alone superb disciples as Kenny Dorham. Dorham is part of a great pack whose members were dubbed ‘musician’s musician’, which signifies esteem from colleagues and critics which equals poverty so must’ve been terminology that left the pack disgusted. Go to hell with your musician’ musician stuff, I need to pay my bloody rent! Dorham was a major league musician’s musician, a BADDASS musician’s musician, one of the iconic musician’s musicians. Too bad for Kenny. At least he was never described as ‘best kept secret’, which also spells disaster and a lavish portion of vomit.

Dorham was active in the bop era, colleague of Parker and Gillespie, a charter member of the first Jazz Messengers incarnation (Art Blakey introduced him nightly as the “the uncrowned king of the trumpet”) and enjoyed a particularly fruitful cooperation with tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson in the early ‘60s. Blue Bossa is his best-known composition. His discography is a hard bop playground and Afro-Cuban, Quiet Kenny, Whistle Stop, Round About Midnight At Cafe Bohemia, Una Mas and Trompetta Toccata are essential LP’s. They ooze with Dorham’s tasteful trumpet playing, the opposite of flashy bop, crystal clear weaving of lines anchored by a distinctive balancing act of bittersweetness and sleaze and a tone that I once overheard someone, I forgot whom, describe as ‘sweet-tart’. That it is.

Quiet Kenny is remarkable for the fact that Dorham is the sole horn. Plenty of space for Kenny’s cushion-soft but poignant lyricism. Dorham displays the gift of carrying one to a special zone, where the spine tingles and melancholia is barely suppressed by the bright side of life. Dorham strings together beautifully balanced phrases with apricot, peach and tangerine transformed into sound, all of this flowing on the flexible bedrock of Tommy Flanagan, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor.

All tunes flow with elegance and purposeful movement, whether warhorses like Old Folks or blues-based originals like Blue Friday and Blue Spring Shuffle. Lotus Flower, also known as Asiatic Raes as performed by Sonny Rollins on Newk’s Time in 1957, is an undeniable highlight; a lovely amalgam of the nursery rhyme-ish, Chinese-tinged melody and Dorham’s supple melodic variations. Dorham’s delightful reflection of desire of My Ideal is the other potential poll winner, signifying a trumpeter of compassion and restraint, the latter unique element described in the title as ‘quiet’.

The enjoyment of Quiet Kenny equals eating perfect sushi, savoring every bite of the little Japanese pieces of tuna, seaweed, rice. Dorham is master chef and Mr. Delicate, adding a dash of wasabi here and there. Beautiful record.

Feel Like Going Home


“Birdland had great people but it was like going to a theatre. Jimmy Ryan’s was like going to a nightclub. And the Five Spot was just like going home.” (Dan Wakefield)

Most of us probably share the sentiment of going to a hangout in our formative years that felt like home. Home for me was (is) Porgy & Bess (jazz) and the defunct Snugly (rock) down south in The Netherlands. What writer Dan Wakefield calls home happened to be the legendary jazz bar The Five Spot in the Bowery in New York City in the late ’50s. Situated at 5 Cooper Square, the little place was nothing special. Which made it very special. Every jazz fan knows the stories about the eponymous Thelonious Monk concerts with John Coltrane and the controversial performances of Ornette Coleman. About the records: Monk, Eric Dolphy, Kenny Burrell, Pepper Adams & Donald Byrd… all “At The Five Spot”.

The Five Spot, run by the Italian-American brothers Frank and Joe Termini, existed before 1956 and after 1962, when it was relocated to St. Marks Place. But the years 1956-62 sealed its reputation. Initially a hangout for Bohemians and poets, the Terminis started programming jazz at the advice of French horn player David Amram. First up was Cecil Taylor and his uncompromising developing experiments. Finally, Thelonious Monk put it on the map in 1957. I stumbled upon the June 2020 radio show Night Lights by David Johnson on WFIU in Indiana. David Amram and writer Dan Wakefield reflect on their associations with the Five Spot Café. Read here.

And at the tail end of the article, there is the link to the Bedford/Bowery article
Definitely a New York hang by Frank Mastropolo from 2014. Enlightening memories of bassist Buell Neidlinger, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson and French horn player David Amram.


(Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane and bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik; Thelonious Monk with Sonny Rollins, drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik; Five Spot Café at 5 Cooper Square)

(Charles Mingus with pianist Horace Parlan; Charles Mingus with Charles McPherson and Pepper Adams; saxophonist Ken McIntyre)

(Don Cherry & Ornette Coleman; tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin in the audience; and the highly unusual Bowery sight of Thelonious Monk and jazz maecenas Baroness “Pannonica” de Koenigswater)

The Five Spot Café finally closed down in 1967.

Joan Benavent Sunrise (SedaJazz 2020)


South and North-West meet on Sunrise, the latest release from Joan Benavent, killer saxophonist from Spain.


Joan Benavent - Sunrise


Joan Benavent (tenor saxophone), Pep Zaragoza (trumpet), Bart van Lier (trombone), Miguel Rodriguez (piano), Steven Zwanink (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)


in 2020 at Studio Smederij, Zeist


as SedaJazz 095 in 2020

Track listing

El Bancal de la Serp
Mean To Me
Tres Voltes Maria
El Ogro Grogro
Body And Soul
What Is This Thing Called Love

Sunrise. Yes, the sun also rises. In Valencia, sensuous city on the East Coast of Spain, residence of tenor saxophonist Joan Benavent. The sun looms behind Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia’s major modern sight. Ten-minute drive to the hospital in lockdown streets, but suddenly the stormy horn calls on the muse. A trumpet sizzles, a trombone giggles. They slide into a layered groove: propellent bass, snare rolls and subtle accents on the cymbal that tickle a frivolous toddler. Least until sunset, the silenced city is alive.

Benavent will not be caught watching the paint dry. Big, broad, full sound, fluent stories checked with luminous scales, like sailboats in the moonlight hurrying from buoy to buoy. Technique that backs up his claim. Benavent is assisted by trumpeter Pep Zaragoza, trombonist Bart van Lier, pianist Miguel Rodriguez, bassist Steven Zwanink and drummer Eric Ineke. Spanish Armada, Dutch Delight. Special rapports breed successful projects and connaisseurs of European jazz will notice the variety of past alliances of this particular line-up.

Sunrise follows up Opening, which featured Eric Ineke, one of his mentors in Valencia and The Hague. Opening (under the banner of O3 Jazz Trio) signified a couple of journeys to the outskirts of mainstream jazz. Sunrise picks up on that vibe: the chord-heavy title track, the oblique progression of El Ogro Grogro, the sweeping Coltrane-ish intro, duality of tension and release and the hip and heavy climax of the Latin-tinged El Bancal de la Serp, which may serve as a contemporary European update of the kick-ass Woody Shaw bands of the ‘70s.

Standard time. Body And Soul may not leave an unforgettable impression but Benavent’s less-is-more approach is a welcome diversion and Miguel Rodriguez adds a peppery and wide-ranging tale. Benavent sweetly and dynamically whispers Skylark and the band swings What Is This Thing Called Love to the ground. It pimps Mean To Me, immortalized by Billie Holiday, which is marked by spicy simultaneous blowing by Benavent and Van Lier and the steam train energy of Zwanink and Ineke.

How lovely to have the opportunity to hear trombonist Bart van Lier in a small band setting on record again. Rare occasion. The ephemeral colors of the European trombonist par excellence, head slide trombonist in the Metropole Orchestra and studio pro since ages, mingle neatly with brownstone Benavent and sunny Zaragoza. Tart, swirling exclamations mark his elegant and frivolous journeys through ballad, standard and post-bop. He can do anything on the horn and makes it sing. Master at work.

Master stroke to have this man join an already fine session of European mainstream jazz.

Joan Benavent

Curious, I asked Joan for a translation of some of the titles of his original compositions. Titles reveal something about the feeling and vibe musicians want to convey.

Benavent explains: “El Bancal de la Serp means snake’s field. It’s about a field on the outskirts of my village and the myth of an immense snake that could be found thereabout. Obviously we never got to see it, but as kids we glanced every once in a while and our minds made up the rest to the point that sometimes we would really see a bit of the snake, haha. In the end, for me and my friends this was a matter of overcoming our fears. Now I keep feeding the myth by telling the snake’s story to my daughter and nieces and it is so nice to see how they do well, fighting against their fears, because every time we have a countryside walk around that area, they are so curious to approach and see if they can find the big snake. For me it is important to see them overcoming their fears and that’s why I thought to write a tune about it.”

El Ogro Grogro was a bedtime story that my aunt used to tell me when I was very young. The story talks about a princess that marriages an ogre against the will of her family. He ends up being accepted by everybody by saving some locals performing some brave acts. This story was a beginning for me to understand that the important part of a person lies inside and that you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.”

Timeless stories and Benavent and his group did well to convey the sentiment.

Find Sunrise on Bandcamp here.

Very Vari!


There are worse things in life than hanging out with Sonny Stitt, Lou Donaldson, Eddie Harris and Rusty Bryant. All of them, with Stitt at the helm, played the electric Varitone saxophone and the Gibson Maestro Attachment in the late ‘60s, as a means to spice up their groove and experiment with sound.

Selmer introduced the Varitone extension on July 10, 1966 on a convention in Chicago. The Varitone is a control box for the attachment that fits on the bell of the saxophone, which is connected to a large amplifier. The player is enabled to achieve volume control, tone variations (allegedly 60 different sounds) and echo and tremelo effects. The octave effect – by pushing buttons the saxophonist can add a note an octave lower or silence the top note – is attractive, creating ways to experiment with timbre.

Stitt was fast. Merely two days after the convention, The Lone Wolf recorded his first album on Roulette with the use of the Varitone extension, What’s New!!!. Macabre ballad, lovely pun. Stitt used a killer band including trombonist J.J. Johnson and tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet (who himself gave the Varitone a go on two rare occasions on the album) and the rhythm section of guitarist Les Spann, pianist Ellis Larkin, bassist George Duvivier and drummer Walter Perkins, who are present as well on follow-up I Keep Comin’ Back. Parallel-A-Stitt was a small ensemble session featuring organist Don Patterson.

In the Downbeat issue of October 6, 1966, Stitt says, “It’s a revelation. It enables you to probe and find. It projects your own tone – not a distorted tone. Your individual sound doesn’t change. The mind will never get lazy with that help. You’re thinking all the time what to do next. All this gives you is something more to work with. It doesn’t help you to think better. It sounds so pretty. I love it. It’s the most beautiful thing that’s happened to me.”

“Big bands, organs, electric guitars, loud drummers can be quite frustrating to a person who’s trying to think while playing. With this new saxophone, a fellow can hear himself above anybody. He can play in a big ballpark and still be heard.”

Indeed, Stitt’s style remains the same, and while his Varitone records are not essential Stitt, he plays fluently supported by killer line-ups while toying with octaves and different sounds, prominently a hard and hootin’ sound which features a slight distorted edge that, despite his comments, I do hear. Nothing wrong with that. Anyway, unfortunately you won’t find anything of these three records on YouTube except the balladeering of What’s New. While checkin’ tunes after my vinyl listening session, I did come across a live performance of “electrified” Stitt with one of his greatest regular groups of Don Patterson and Billy James, playing The Shadow Of Your Smile at the Left Bank in Baltimore. Nice!

By 1970, likely Stitt’s contract with Selmer had run out. On Turn It On!, Stitt uses the Gibson Maestro Attachment. Hear him blast away on the title track with Virgil Jones, Melvin Sparks and Idris Muhammad.

Eddie Harris wanted his penny’s worth. The saxophonist played the Chicago Maestro Attachment on Plug It In! and Silver Cycles. Harris added the Echoplex, which could provide multiple tape loops which played back the recorded sound at constant intervals. It was therefore possible to play new melodies over the basic motif. Harris used the attachments to the benefit of his hodgepodge of soul and avant-leaning jazz of that period, like Lovely Is Today, Free At Last and
Coltrane’s View. Anything goes with Eddie, lots of grease and lots of feverish vibes and arguably the most interesting electrified player of this bunch.

Lou Donaldson quickly latched on to the Varitone. He played it on some of his popular jazz funk records with organists Charles Earland and Lonnie Smith and drummer Idris Muhammad. Donaldson used it sparingly, focusing on his tone, all silk and velvet and satin. Listen to Turtle Walk from Hot Dog and Everything I Play Gonna Be Funky from Everything I Play Is Funky.

On his only association with the Varitone attachment, Rusty Bryant pulled out all the stops on Night Train Now!, 1969 jazz funk affair with Jimmy Carter on organ, Boogaloo Joe Jones on guitar, Eddie Mathias on bass and Bernard Purdie on drums. Heavy artillery. Buzzing like a bee, howling like a bear, Bryant hits Cootie Boogaloo and John Patton’s Funky Mama right out of the ballpark.

Why did Stitt or the others did not extend their experiments with the Varitone and CMA in the ‘70s and beyond? Perhaps they eventually preferred the authenticity of acoustic sound over the ‘clumsy’ Varitone. Or maybe they felt constrained by the endorsements of the devices. I coincidentally heard just yesterday from my jazz friend Jean-Michel Reisser-Beethoven, who was friendly with Sonny Stitt, that Stitt hated the Varitone, which contrasts with his enthusiastic Downbeat comments.

Why did fusion artists did not pick up on the electric attachments? Most likely, before anyone cared to try, synthesizers provided all the sounds one could wish for. Or am I missing something?

Possibly. Immersed in the heavy sounds of these hot cats.

Lem Winchester - Lem's Beat

Lem Winchester Lem’s Beat (New Jazz 1960)

Lem Winchester’s career was cut short by tragedy but his concise discography showed plenty of promise. Lem’s Beat is one of his finest efforts, not least because of the presence of Oliver Nelson.

Lem Winchester - Lem's Beat


Lem Winchester (vibraphone), Oliver Nelson (tenor sax), Curtis Peagler (alto saxophone), Billy Brown (piano A1, B1), Roy Johnson (piano A2, A3, B2, B3), Wendell Marshall (bass), Art Taylor (drums)


on April 19, 1960 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey


as NJLP 8239 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Eddie’s Dilemma
Lem & Aide
Friendly Persuasion
Side B:
Your Last Change
Lady Day
Just Friends

Aswinging vibraphonist in the tradition of Milt Jackson, Lem Winchester started playing professionally in the late 50’s after giving up his job as police officer in Wilmington, Delaware. The sleeve of his debut recording New Faces At Newport on Metro Jazz, split with pianist Randy Weston, showed Winchester wearing his police officer hat. Poor Lem. It’s a pity no one came up with the idea of coupling him with tenor saxophonist Buck “The Wailing Postman” Hill from Washington D.C.

On a musical level, the results of a partnership of these rather obscure but outstanding players would have been a boon. As a matter of fact, the short career of Winchester is marked by interesting and fruitful cooperations. Argo placed the Ramsey Lewis Trio by his side. On Prestige and its subsidiary label New Jazz, Winchester recorded with Benny Golson and Hank Jones as a leader and organists Brother Jack McDuff, Johnny “Hammond” Smith and Shirley Scott as a sideman.

As well as Oliver Nelson. In 1960, Winchester played on Nelson’s Taking Care Of Business (New Jazz) and Nocturne. (Moodsville, Prestige’s other subsidiary label) Likely, after the March session of Takin’ Care Of Business, Nelson returned the favor, appearing on the April session of Lem’s Beat. Another session in the pocket, another bill paid.

Typical and excellent quintet stuff from the early 60’s, Lem’s Beat has Oliver Nelson as arranger and on tenor saxophone, an underrated player and confident individual who crafts stucturally sound solo’s, rich with varied blues motives and a strong hard sound from the Dexter Gordon school. It has Curtis Peagler on alto saxophone – Who??? Anyone? – boppish and bouncy and occasionally phrasing against the grain; solid and fluent Wendell Marshall on bass, Art Taylor on drums and alternating pianists Billy Brown and Roy Johnson. Again, who, anyone?

And the leader, Lem Winchester, taking the vibraphone, curious mixture of melody and percussion, by the horns, swinging with effortless grace and wit, not much that will rattle the bones of dead Downbeat critics but entertaining and stylish. Lem’s beat was solid and whether he was beat (the hipster slang of the jazz-loving Beat Writers – “Man, I’m beat” was a way of saying one was down and out, which was uttered by middle-class boys turned greasy hipsters from Frisco to New York but was uttered initially by Herbert Huncke in the mid-40’s, the über-Beat that likely picked it up in Afro-American quarters and, by the way, was a big fan of Charlie Parker), who knows. Lem’s Beat is a funny title, but the title of the sole composition by Winchester, Lem & Aide, is even better.

Nelson was an outstanding arranger whose ensembles for small groups gave the impression of a bigger band than was the case and he does the trick on Lem’s Beat’s blues-based repertoire. Two tunes stand out: the seldom-played Tionkin/Webster composition Friendly Persuasion gets a MJQ-ish treatment. Lady Day is a sensitive homage to Billie Holiday by pianist Roy Johnson.

The tragedy of Lem Winchester’s life, former cop, was that he died from a hand gun accident, allegedly during a game of Russian Roulette. He passed away in 1961 at the age of thirty-three.

In The Spirit Of Joris Teepe


Things are pretty much always happening for Joris Teepe, sought-after Dutch bassist. No less than three albums have been issued lately: The Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet’s In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock, the reissue of Teepe’s 1998 record Seven Days A Week featuring Randy Brecker and Chris Potter and Stream’s Yellowbird, Teepe’s cooperation with trombonist Christophe Schweizer and legendary drummer Billy Hart.

Diverse stuff from the bassist, composer, arranger and big band leader who has been dividing his time between New York City and his home country since the early ‘90s, the only one of his generation that made a definite mark in the competitive jazz world of The Big Apple. A quick interactive mind, harmonic daring and fluent support are some of the talents of Teepe, who has been working in both mainstream tradition and free jazz settings. Teepe worked with Benny Golson, Charles McPherson, Eric Alexander, Tom Harrell, Jarmo Hoogendijk, Slide Hampton, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Werner, John Abercrombie, Peter Bernstein and many others.

I remember Teepe saying something along the lines that, in fact, free jazz has become a valid tradition in itself, a well that contemporary musicians can dig for the things that they appreciate as a starting point to their creative endeavors. True enough. Teepe himself has taken the bull by the horns and, among other things, worked with drummer Rashied Ali, who pushed the envelope ever since his high-profile career start in the final band of John Coltrane. Teepe was the long-time rhythm companion of Ali from 2000 until Ali’s passing in 2009, in the words of the bassist, “a transformative experience.” In 2018, Teepe released the highly acclaimed CD/audio book In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali. Wonder whose spirits Teepe will choose to arouse in the future.

Besides Teepe, live performance In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock features saxophonist Don Braden, pianist Rob van Bavel and drummer Owen Hart Jr. Longtime musical buddy of Teepe, lively Mr. Braden flexes his muscles, there’s his deep sound with the sandpaper edge and his pleasantly slightly ‘lazy’ beat. Teepe is glue, harmonically astute. The synthesis of Van Bavel’s layered bass chords and patterns and dazzling waterfalls on the upper keys is complete. Buoyant and eloquent, the European modern piano giant is in fine form. Sheer joy! The program of Hancock classics as Maiden Voyage, Speak Like A Child, early ‘70s jazz funk of Actual Proof and Butterfly, finds highlights in the twisted rhythm of the gutsy Watermelon Man and thudding swing of Teepe’s blues-based Role Model, both reflecting Hancock but somehow also reminiscent of the exciting Mingus/Ervin/Byard/Richmond configuration. High-level post bop in The Hague, about 30 miles from Flophouse Headquarters, where the hell was I?!

Another high-quality affair: Seven Days A Week. In the ‘90s, Teepe was at the right place at the right time in NYC, mesmerizing mix of the acclaimed and the new breed like James Carter, Chris Potter, Cyrus Chestnut and Joshua Redman. Crackerjack Randy Brecker and rising star Chris Potter are featured on Teepe’s fourth album as a leader. Intriguing, stripped versions of Seven Steps To Heaven and Cherokee alternate with the roaring Some Skunk Funk – Brecker reference. Highlight Joriscope, re-imagination of mid-sixties Blue Note avant, completes the excellent Seven Days A Week, reissued on Via Records.

Stream, brainchild of German trombonist Christophe Schweizer, released Yellowbird. It features saxophonist Sebastian Gille, pianist Pablo Hell and the very responsive rhythm section of Teepe and Billy Hart. Elusive music centered round the distinctive sound of trombone and tenor/soprano sax. Complex, at times symphonic, at times light as a feather, always with the subtle undercurrents of Billy Hart, whose Africa-tinged backdrop of Motion is remarkable. You have to let it work on you, as the compositional approach is equally important as improv. Tersely swinging though is Teepe’s Peter’s Power, featuring a killer bass solo. Stream’s alienating Body & Soul, including expertly done slower-than-slow tempo, is the must-hear finish to a record that was released in May 2020 on the long-standing and collectable Enja label.

Listen to In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock on Spotify below.

Joris Teepe

The Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet, In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock (O.P.A. Records, 2020); Find here.
Joris Teepe, Seven Days A Week (Via Records, 1998/2020); Find here.
Stream, Yellowbird (Enja 2020); Find here.

Go to the website of Joris Teepe here.



Ricardo Pinheiro is an original interpreter of standards, both in conception and sound. Fusion is also part of his palette and the way that the guitarist from Lisbon, Portugal transformed the Disney tune When You Wish Upon A Star into a psychedelic drone on Triplicity was something else. But Caruma is one step beyond, a meditative record of solo guitar and the voices of Theo Bleckmann and Mônica Salmaso. Caruma was released on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music in November, 2020.

Close in spirit to the ECM label but a singular effort, Pinheiro Pinheiro explains that “Caruma is Portuguese for pine needle. The album springs from the inspiration of living in the countryside, in the middle of the Sintra woods. All the songs are related to atmospheric, photographic and emotional substance drawn from connections with nature.”

Elegance, restraint and stillness abound. Angelic voices mingle with the oblique melodies and overdubbed soundscapes by Pinheiro, like four legs entwined beneath silken sheets. Bleckmann subtly follows and builds on the lines of Pinheiro, Salmaso prefers mellow recitation of poetry. In between the electric guitar-driven songs, the acoustic Caruma stands out as a melancholic folk tune. The ambient climax of Resina evokes images of moorland shrouded in fog, bats in dark caves, where perhaps also dwell hobgoblins…

Mar Picardo introduces the element of fire. Rhythmic and improv-wise it has the tinge of King Crimson. Surprise tune of a surprising album.

Ricardo Pinheiro

Go to the website of Ricardo Pinheiro here.