Despite being an original member of The Jazz Messengers, Kenny Dorham is overshadowed by the trumpeters that came after him in the Jazz Messengers lineup; like Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard. The fact of the matter is that Kenny Dorham’s history goes back to the burgeoning of bebop. He played with Billy Eckstine’s big band. The talent that passed through Eckstine is mind boggling. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Dexter Gordon, and Art Blakey were some of the big names that honed their skills with Eckstine. Dorham was one of these men, and the names listed were his contemporaries.
What isn’t widely known is that shortly after leaving the Jazz Messengers, Dorham created his own hard bop group called The Jazz Prophets. It was a short-lived group, but they were fantastic. Their first release, aptly titled Kenny Dorham and The Jazz Prophets Vol. 1 features Kenny Dorham on trumpet, J.R. Monterose on tenor sax, Dick Katz on piano, Sam Jones on bass, and Arthur Edgehill on drums. It’s an album worth tracking down.
The Cafe Bohemia album features the recording debut of the then 20 year old Bobby Timmons. As fate would have it, Timmons later joined The Jazz Messengers, and is more known for his work with Art Blakey. However, it should not be forgotten that it was Kenny Dorham who gave him his first shot with The Jazz Prophets.
Below are songs from the Kenny Dorham and The Jazz Prophets album. It’s nothing but pure hard bop. It’s an album that is largely unknown to people who aren’t hard bop devotees. I find this unfortunate considering that Kenny Dorham is a man who was there when bebop became a force to be reckoned with, and was instrumental in the birth of hard bop as a movement by virtue of being an original Jazz Messenger. Nevertheless, enjoy the music, and explore Kenny Dorham’s discography. It’s great. I will post more about Kenny Dorham in the near future.