One of the greats, bop trumpeter & arranger (and singer!) Kenny Dorham may be best known for his composition "Blue Bossa" but check your collection and you will find his name on dozens and dozens of classic sides. His playing is exquisite and clear-toned with perfectly placed notes, and he had great taste in sidemen!
Born McKinley Dorham, he grew up in Austin TX. He joined the Dizzy Gillespie band in '45, as well as a stint in that Billy Eckstine group that yielded many future bop stars. He also played in the '40s with Mercer Ellington, Kenny Clarke and Lionel Hampton and did some arrangements for Lucky Millinder, Benny Carter and uncredited work for Gene Krupa, Harry James and others.
In '48 he replaced Miles Davis in Charlie Parker's band, also playing bop with Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Stitt and Mary Lou Williams. In '53 he cut his first leader date for the Mingus/ Max Roach-run label Debut, followed by albums on several imprints. He joined the Jazz Messengers and in '54 he started the Jazz Prophets. His Afro-Cuban LP in '55 is a classic. He partnered with Ernie Henry until Henry's death, yielding a pianoless date in '57 (2 Horns/2 Rhythm) which became Henry's last session. He famously clashed with Cecil Taylor on Hard Driving Jazz (the Taylor record with John Coltrane). Dorham then replaced Clifford Brown in Roach's group in the late '50s. Around this time he also taught at the famous Lenox School of Jazz in Massachusetts.
The early '60s brought him back to Blue Note Records, where he had a fruitful decade as both session man and his own projects. You can hear him with a diverse array of talents, such as recordings by Joe Henderson, Andrew Hill, JJ Johnson, Abbey Lincoln, AK Salim, Randy Weston, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Eric Dolphy, Jackie McLean, Oliver Nelson, Andy Bey, Betty Carter and many, many more. He suffered kidney problems later in his life, taking jobs at a post office and writing record reviews. He died at the age of 48.