Kenneth Earl "Kenny" Burrell (born July 31, 1931) is an iconic American jazz guitar player. Known as Duke Ellington's favorite guitarist, Kenny's playing is grounded in bebop and blues; he has performed and recorded with a wide range of jazz musicians. Burrell was born in Detroit, Michigan to a musical family and began playing guitar at the age of 12. His influences as a guitar player include Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, and Wes Montgomery. While a student at Wayne State University, he made his debut recording as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's sextet in 1951. He toured with Oscar Peterson after graduating in 1955. Since then, Kenny has been involved in decades of recording sessions with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Jimmy Smith, Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, and Billie Holiday.
Burrell began teaching in the 1970s and, today, he is director of the jazz studies program at UCLA. In 1978, he developed the first regular college course on Duke Ellington. Staunch musical integrity and discriminate taste coupled with matchless technique have made the guitarist nonpareil among his peers. His recordings and career mementos are a cornerstone of the Kenny Burrell Archive of African American Music, housed at UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.
"Kenny Burrell is overall the greatest guitarist in the world and he's my favorite." - B.B. King
"Burrell is the grand master of jazz guitar." - Dizzy Gillespie
"There is no finer guitarist than Kenny Burrell" - George Benson
"Kenny Burrell that's the sound I'm looking for." - Jimi Hendrix
"Kenny Burrell is a great musician and his music has helped to make me what I am today." - Stevie Wonder
"Kenny Burrell is one of my Favorite guitarists" - Pat Metheny