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This Week in Texas Music History: Kenny Dorham
by Stephen Becker 26 Aug 2011

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll honor a little known musician who played a big role in redefining jazz.


Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman tells us about a little known musician who played a big role in redefining jazz.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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Kenny Dorham was born near Fairfield, Texas, on Aug. 30, 1924. He learned to play piano as a child and had already mastered the saxophone and trumpet by high school. After serving in World War II, Dorham relocated to Los Angeles and then New York, where he played trumpet with such jazz icons as Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and Charlie Parker. Dorham helped define the newly emerging jazz style known as bebop, and he wrote one of the genre’s most popular standards, “Blue Bossa.” Kenny Dorham went on to perform and record with a number of influential jazz artists, including Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins. Dorham also worked as a journalist for Down Beat magazine and toured worldwide before his death in 1972 at the age of only 48.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a singer whose musical odyssey took him from the barrio to pop stardom.