Arts + Culture

Benefit concert to honor UCLA jazz legend Kenny Burrell for his 85th birthday

All proceeds from the concert will help establish an endowed chair in jazz studies in Burrell’s name

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Kenny Burrell
Photo courtesy of Kenny Burrell

The “Kenny Burrell 85: Artist, Legend, Legacy” concert will include Burrell’s heartfelt tribute to jazz great Billie Holiday.

The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music with Friends of Jazz at UCLA will stage a benefit concert to honor Kenny Burrell, distinguished professor and director of jazz studies at UCLA. The concert program features new original works by Burrell, and a new work by composer Lalo Schifrin that will be performed by the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited and the UCLA Philharmonia under the direction of conductor Neal Stulberg.

The “Kenny Burrell 85: Artist, Legend, Legacy” concert will be held Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in Royce Hall. It will include Burrell’s heartfelt tribute to Billie Holiday, the great American jazz musician and singer-songwriter. The evening closes with “Love Suite” for full orchestra, choir and strings with Burrell on guitar.

In Burrell’s honor UCLA will establish the Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies. The Herb Alpert Foundation has given the lead gift of $500,000 toward establishing this chair, which will provide resources for student scholarships, faculty programs and performances in jazz studies.

“Kenny plays such an important role at UCLA, in helping to establish a new paradigm for music education and the future of jazz,” said Alpert, the legendary trumpet player and philanthropist.

Burrell made his studio recording debut in 1951 as part of a combo session with Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Milt Jackson and Percy Heath. Burrell, the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, has released more than 100 records and performed and recorded with many of the great jazz musicians including Holiday, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Ray Charles, Art Blakey and Louis Armstrong. 

In 1978, Burrell joined the music faculty of UCLA, and in 1996 he was named the founding director of the UCLA Jazz Studies program, and 15 years ago, he created the Kenny Burrell Archive of African American Music at the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Tickets for the concert go on sale Friday, Oct. 7 at 10 a.m. are available via Ticketmaster, by calling UCLA at 310-825-2101 or in person at the UCLA Central Ticket Office. Tickets cost $135 for orchestra seats and $85 for seats in the balcony.

The concert proceeds will support the Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

The money raised is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.

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