Drew, Kenny (actually, Kenneth Sidney)

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Drew, Kenny (actually, Kenneth Sidney)

Drew, Kenny (actually, Kenneth Sidney), jazz pianist; b. N.Y., Aug. 28, 1928; d. Copenhagen, Denmark, Aug. 4, 1993. Drew was one of the most widely recorded sidemen of the hard bop era. He was perhaps more famous for his adaptability and consistency than for the depth of his musical insights. however, he displayed a polished technique and a peerless sense of swing, and sessions usually were better for his presence at the keyboard. His recording debut was on a Howard McGhee session in 1949, followed by a Sonny Stitt date a few months later. Although he led sessions for Riverside, Norgran, and Blue Note from 1953 until 1960, his most significant work during this period was as a sideman. He recorded with Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane in the late 1950s, during crucial phases in the development of both of those artists. He also had strong outings on Blue Note in support of Kenny Dorham, Tina Brooks, and Jackie McLean. In the early 1960s, Drew left the American jazz scene and moved to Europe, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. Dexter Gordon’s early 1960s albums with him were a high point in the careers of both artists, and the two of them would reunite several times over the next ten years. He led the house band at the Jazzhaus Montmarte in Copenhagen into the 1970s, performing with many prominent expatriate jazzmen. Here he began a productive musical partnership with Scandinavian bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson which would last into the 1970s. Although he made some solid recordings as a leader throughout his career, Drew is heard to best advantage supporting other artists of stronger musical personality. His recordings with Ben Webster, Johnny Griffin, Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane were high points in the careers of those artists. Few pianists of his generation could claim such a distinguished résumé. His son, Kenny Drew Jr. (b. N.Y., 1958), is also a jazz pianist who has performed with Mingus Dynasty, among other groups.


Introducing the Kenny Drew Trio (1953); Modernity of Kenny Drew (1953); New Sounds, New Faces (1953); Progressive Piano (1954); Trio-Quartet-Quintet (1956); This Is New (1957); Undercurrent (1960); Duo, Vol. 1 (1973); Everything I Love (1973); Duo, Vol. 2 (1974); // You Could See Me Now (1974); In Concert (1977); Ruby My Dear (1977); Duo Live in Concert (1978); Home Is Where the Soul Is (1978); Live in Concert (1978); It Might As Well Be Spring (1981); Your Soft Eyes (1981); And Far Away (1983); Recollections (1989).

—Will Bickart

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