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he was great, one of my favorite players. kenny really knew how to swing. his style of eighth note playing was briefly discussed in this old thread:

https://www.learnjazzpiano.com/citadel/scotcit.mvc?intro_off=1&action=forum&sub=display_thread&room_id=1&id=31955
is it just me or did that thing not swing at all until kenny started his solo?
dr., you are referring to stanley jordan.
well, i didn't want to blame anyone in particular:)
yeah, kenny kirkland was one of those guys who left us way too early.  i remember seeing him in seattle once, what a blast that was!
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enjoyed his work on a couple of sting's albums.
i think that kenny's self-titled album is out of print or something happened to the rights...it used to be available for download a couple of years ago, but when i looked for it to finally purchase recently, it was no longer for sale. :(
here's a great full length interview with kk that i found about a year ago.  there's so much information in here.  

https://www.scarlet.nl/~gugten/kenny-interview.htm

i think that it's a shame that sting didn't give him any other opportunities to solo during his time in the band.  not to knock sting's musical abilities, but i'm guessing that he didn't want any of the members of his band showing him up.
actually there are videos available that document the entire sting experience putting that band together.  much to the contraty of what you say sting always had branford marsalas blow his ass off in that band.. you don't have to listen to hardly any of that bands music to hear that.  mature players in situations like that know that it is not always about "opportunities to solo"  i am sure kk was happy to getting payed what was most likely more money than he had ever been payed before to play.  and was finding joy in figuring out the best way to be an awesome accompaniest in a what was a new idiom to him...  
and he did it.  that i am sure was challege enough ... i seriouly doubt he was worrying about how much solo time he was getting.  
   it is not like i am a die hard sting fan... however
at the time sting was somewhat respected by a lot of us jazzers for doing a relatively groundbreaking fusion of rock and jazz.  also you might take the time to read the interview that you yourself pasted here to see that kk himself speaks very highly of sting and how sting treated him...  therefore making it very unlikely that he felt sting did not want him showing him up.
hey, i was not implying that sting mistreated kk in any way or that he said as much in the interview.  and its good that branford had so many opportunities to blow.  i just think that no one would have complained if kirkland was given some more solos, something that he himself was in favor of, if only because it would have been nice to have a change.  

as for sting, well, i'm having a hard time putting it into words, but the nature if being a pop singer requires that only so much time be given to the supporting musicians.  so i acknowledge that his decisions in that regard were out of necessity.

r: but you played this song for 10 years now..
k: i know!
r: don't you want to do that in another song!?!
r: that's what i mean! eliminate it or do it in another way, 'cause it's the same thing! and after like, playing it every night, you know, it's hard to come up with something new!
kenny plays great on jeff 'tain' watts' trio album megawatts
yeah that trio album is great! it´s also known as "jazz from keystone: thunder and rainbows". two other essential kenny albums are "wynton marsalis: black codes (from the underground)" and "branford marsalis: crazy people music".
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