Jazz legend Kenny Burrell, Distinguished Professor and director of jazz studies in UCLA’s departments of music and ethnomusicology, received the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s 7th Annual L.A. Jazz Treasure Award during a musical celebration at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Sept. 4.
Burrell is a recording artist and producer whose extensive discography includes the critically acclaimed “Guitar Forms,” “Ellington is Forever” and “Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane.” He has recorded 97 albums under his own name and several hundred with other artists who include many of the most influential musicians in jazz history, among them Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Tony Bennett, Billy Holiday, Quincy Jones, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Smith, Art Blakey, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong.
An authority on the music of Duke Ellington, Burrell developed and taught, in 1978 at UCLA, the first regular college course on Ellington ever offered in the United States. In 1996, he was appointed inaugural director of UCLA’s new Jazz Studies Program. Recognized as an international ambassador for jazz and its promotion as an art form, he is the founder of the Jazz Heritage Foundation and the Friends of Jazz at UCLA.
Among numerous honors, Burrell was named a 2005 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, a title awarded annually to a handful of living figures in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the field of jazz. In 2004, he received the Jazz Educator of the Year award from DownBeat magazine for academic achievement and excellence in jazz education.