An amazing early run of music from guitarist Kenny Burrell – five albums in a single package, each with LP-style covers! First up is his Blue Note debut – Introducing Kenny Burrell – arguably one of the greatest Kenny Burrell albums ever! Unlike some of Kenny's other sessions, which hide his guitar in arrangements that are a bit too complicated – this one's a nicely stripped-down album that sets his hollow electric in a group with Tommy Flanagan on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, Kenny Clarke on drums, and Candido on conga. The tracks are nicely laidback, and Kenny hits some nice deep grooves on cuts like "Fugue N Blues", "Takeela", and "Delilah". Plus, the album also includes a totally cool percussion-only track – "Rhythmorama", which is a duet between Kenny Clarke and Candido! Next is the self-titled Kenny Burrell – Blue Note 1543 – early genius from Kenny – a set that features the guitarist sounding beautiful in a variety of settings, all of them great! The format really mixes things up nicely – almost showing a more diverse Kenny than in later years – as one track is solo, and the others feature quartet, quintet, and sextet lineups – with players who include JR Monterose or Frank Foster on tenor, Tommy Flanagan or Bobby Timons on piano, Oscar Pettiford or Sam Jones on bass, Kenny Dorham on trumpet, and Kenny Clarke or Shadow Wilson on drums. The solo track is a great version of "But Not For Me" – and other titles include "Mexico City", "Cheeta", "Phinupi", and "Now See How You Are". Next are the two records that make up Blue Lights Vols 1 & 2 – material that catches Kenny in the perfect Blue Note jam session mode of the late 50s – one used also with Jimmy Smith, and which features a number of the label's star players hitting hard with the main soloist. Players on the two volume set include Duke Jordan or Bobby Timmons piano, Junior Cook and Tina Brooks tenor, Louis Smith trumpet, and Art Blakey on Drums. The cuts have a very open-ended blowing session feel, and Kenny comes through surprisingly well, really picking up steam on a way you don't always hear in more restrained recordings. Titles include "Yes Baby", "Scotch Blues", "Rock Salt", "Chuckin", "Phinupi", and "Caravan". Last up is On View At The Five Spot Cafe – a smoking live session, and one that's got a bit more of an edge than some of his other records from the time! Kenny's guitar still has that impeccable tone throughout – but it's also matched by some wonderful tenor from the great Tina Brooks – making one of his few key Blue Note appearances here – in a massively cooking group that also features some piano from Bobby Timmons on three of the album's five tracks (Roland Hanna
plays on the two others) – plus drums from Art Blakey, and bass from Ben Tucker – a pair wo work together wonderfully to create some really great grooves. Kenny himself seems to pick up great energy in the setting – and titles include "Lady Be Good", "Birk's Works", "36-23-36", and "Hallelujah".