Kenny Dorham's Day (August 29th)

East Austin Blues Alliance: Summer Series 2012



What: Jeff Lofton Plays the Music of Kenny Dorham

"In honor of Kenny Dorham's Birthday"
Jeff Lofton Quartet, featuring Dr. James Polk
and special guests...

Stage talk on the life and music of Kenny Dorham by Dr. James Polk
Official City of Austin Proclamation of "Kenny Dorham Day"

Gates at 7:30
Special Guest ...

When: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Gates at 7:30pm; Music at 8:00PM

Where: Kenny Dorham’s Backyard,
1106 East 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

Cover: $8, Kids free

Contact: Harold McMillan

DiverseArts is proud to honor the musical legacy and life of former Austinite, McKinley "Kenny" Dorham. On Wednesday, August 29, we feature one of Austin's most popular contemporary jazz trumpet players, Jeff Lofton, in a special concert commemorating the birthday of Kenny Dorham. August 30 is the 88th anniversary of Dorham's birth. Our "Birthday Party for Kenny" includes the presentation of an Official City of Austin Proclamation designating "Kenny Dorham Day in Austin" and the reading of a personal letter from Kenny Dorham's daughter, Evette Dorham, acknowledging the Dorham Family's appreciation of our efforts to keep the music, life, and legacy of Kenny Dorham alive in Austin.

Our event, "Jeff Lofton Plays the Music of Kenny Dorham" is a tribute performance that aims to celebrate Kenny Dorham's connection to Austin's musical story, his connection to the Central East Austin community where he lived as a youth, and should help explain to those who do not know, the reason that DiverseArts proudly calls our live music venue "Kenny Dorham's Backyard." The Dorham's last home in Austin was just a few blocks away from our East 11th Street venue, close to the corner of East 12th@Navasota.

 The event will include recorded music from the Kenny Dorham catelogue, a presentation from Dr. James Polk on the life and music of Kenny Dorham (whom Polk had the pleasure of meeting as a young musician), and a feature set from the Jeff Lofton Quartet (which includes Polk on piano) performing the music of Kenny Dorham. Local stand out pianist and composer, Kevin Lovejoy opens the event with a solo performance.

Kenny Dorham's soft, energetic, be-bop style and confident, smooth lyrical playing has influenced countless musicians. One of the great trumpet pioneers of the bebop era, Kenny had the misfortune to play beneath the shadows cast by Gillespie, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown and Miles Davis. He worked with most of the giants of the music in the '40s and '50s, and continued to lead his own groups through the 60s. Many of his compositions have become jazz standards (Blue Bossa, Prince Albert, Lotus Blossom, Una Mas, Whistle Stop). He used to "ghost" many of his charts, which were published under the name of Walter "Gil" Fuller..

Kenny was born into a musical family on August 30th, 1924 in Fairfield, Texas. At age 7, he began piano lessons, switching to trumpet while attending high school at Anderson High School in East Austin. His debut on the trumpet was with a dance band at Wiley College, where he studied pharmacy.

In 1942, he joined the army, becoming a member of their boxing team and in 1943, began working with trumpeter, Russell Jacquet, Illinois Jacquet's older brother. He later moved to New York City, playing and singing with Dizzy Gillespie's band, as well as other groups, including Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, and Mercer Ellington. He earned the nickname "Quiet Kenny" due to his quiet, subdued sound, replacing Miles Davis in Charlie Parker's group from 1948 to 1950.

In the early 50s, Kenny began playing in New York City, recording with Thelonious Monk in �52, and became a founding member of the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey and Horace Silver. He later replaced Clifford Brown in the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet when Clifford was killed in an automobile accident. Dorham would occasionally lead his own groups, giving early exposure to such younger men as Bobby Timmons, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Charles Davis, Kenny Burrell, Butch Warren and Tony Williams.

He was very active in the late 50s and 60s, teaching at Lennox School of Jazz, leading and touring with his own groups, co-leading groups with Joe Henderson and Hank Mobley, and recording with Barry Harris, Cedar Walton, Jackie McLean, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, and Sonny Rollins. During that time, Kenny recorded an impressive series of LP's under his own name for Blue Note. His best recordings include Whistle Stop and Una Mas for Blue Note and Jazz Contemporary for Time. He was also a thoughtful reviewer for Downbeat Magazine, and attended college at NYU School of Music, teaching at the school before he died of kidney failure on December 5th, 1972.

Source of Kenny Dorham biographical information,



Jeff Lofton Quartet

"Austin-based trumpeter, composer and band leader Jeff Lofton is a veritable jazz virtuoso,” writes NPR affiliate KUT 90.5 FM in Austin. “Comparisons are frequently made to Miles Davis - and rightfully so. Lofton's take on standards frequently astounds, and his originals are equally delicious."

Lofton studied composition at the University of South Carolina and moved to Austin in 2007 at the age of 40. Since then he’s been voted Best Jazz Band at the ‘10-’11 Austin Music Awards during SXSW; January 15, 2009 was named "Jeff Lofton Day" by the City of Austin; and he was inducted into the Texas Music Museum.

The Austin American-Statesman’s 2010 Out and About 500: Music list noted his "ubiquitous presence and articulate advocacy." His album, "Jazz to the People," made the 2009 top albums lists for the Austin Chronicle and KUT. In 2011 his side project, The Jeff Lofton Electric Thang, recorded a live album at the Cactus Cafe and performed at San Antonio’s JazzSAlive festival.

"Listen up Miles Davis fans…" from the Austin American-Statesman and "… channels Miles Davis…" from the Daily Texan were some of the early reviews when Lofton arrived in Austin. Mostly unknown to the local jazz scene, word-of-mouth drew people to hear his unique sound at small bars in East Austin. Soon his shows were being described as "...crazy good and crazy crowded." (Joe Gross, Austin American-Statesman).

In March of 2010  "Jeff Lofton's 1950s Miles Davis Tribute" drew a large crowd at One World Theatre with the help of media sponsor KUT 90.5 FM, though competing with opening night of SXSW in nearby downtown Austin. The show was soon booked at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York. Previously the show launched a jazz series in collaboration with the University of Texas’ Blanton Museum's hosting of the "Birth of the Cool" exhibit in 2008, and was booked at Scat Jazz Lounge for it’s Fort Worth debut. In 2012 the tribute debuted in San Antonio for KRTU's Year of Jazz series, drawing a crowd of 550.

In 2010 in the tradition of Miles Davis, Lofton expanded his sound with a new group, the Jeff Lofton Electric Thang, described as jazz-funk, rock fusion. The group’s first album, “Chasing the Voodoo Down - Live at the Cactus Cafe” released on May 14, 2011 at the Cactus Cafe in Austin. The Jeff Lofton Electric Thang also debuted a “Bitches Brew” Tribute and performed at Antone’s, Momo’s, Lambert’s and Speakeasy in Austin. KGSR DJ and Esquire writer Andy Langer called Lofton “an Austin jazz giant” at the band’s first television appearance on his News 8 music series from the Long Center.

We hope you will join us. Enjoy locally grown food from Sun Farm Kitchen. B.Y.O.B (cans and plastic only). Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets. $8 cover to help support DiverseArts and local artists. Children have free admission.

Join us for a day of music and fun as we celebrate East Austin’s vibrant community!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 7:30pm