5 Essential Kenny Barron Tracks


 Track: Rain
The Art of Conversation

 A Kenny Barron original from the highly acclaimed album The  Art of Conversation, Rain showcases the incredible mastery of  both Kenny Barron and bassist Dave Holland. As the album title  suggests, the record plays as a figurative conversation between  two voices.

While from a certain point of view they might seem disparate musicians (Barron with an affinity for more straight ahead style, while Holland crosses in and out of the avant-garde) a natural rapport is Intimate and clear on this date. With the understated feel of the album, their interplay is laid out to hear leaving no room for coasting or filler. The Art of Conversation was recognized as Record of the Year by Jazz Journalists Association in 2014.

 Track: Belem

 Kenny Barron’s love of Latin and Carribean rhythms originated  during his time in Dizzy Gillespie’s band from 1962-1966.  During this time Gillespie’s band began to add bossa nova  tunes into their live sets. Fast forward to 1993 and Barron releases his first Grammy nominated album entitled Sambao.

Consisting solely of originals penned by Barron himself, Sambao is a Brazillian influenced album played not in a psudeo-Jobim style or like other popular players of the day, but in his own signature style foregoing a lead instrument, and instead focusing on his masterful piano playing supported by an excellent rhythm section including the stellar Victor Lewis on drums. A fine example of the interplay between Barron and his band can be found on the tune "Belem".

Track: Sail Away
Album: Wanton Spirit

 Most series jazz fans understand just how underappreciated  Kenny Barron has been throughout his career, playing on  several legendary sessions as well as strong solo dates. His  1996 album Wanton Spirit was perhaps his most  commercially  and critically impactful at that point in his career – finally earning him some of the recognition he deserved. Teaming up with the one and only Roy Haynes on drums (who Barron had worked with beginning in his late teenage years). A cover of trumpeter Tom Harrell’s “Sail Away” is particularly a beautiful interpretation.

Track: Straight, No Chaser
Album: Green Chimneys

 Kenny Barron’s Green Chimneys (released in 1984) highlights  Barron in top form. Performing with in a trio format with  bassist Buster Williams and drummer Ben Riley. The title track  is one of two Thelonious Monk tunes on this date. The latter of which “Straight, No Chaser” is done justice at a faster tempo than the original with Barron’s piano taking the lead.

 Track: Dawn
Sunset to Dawn

 A short detour throughout Kenny Barron’s illustrious career led  him to record two albums in the early to mid 70’s where he  doubled on electric and acoustic piano. The style of some of  the tracks (including “Dawn” featured below) off his 1973 effort Sunset to Dawn might come as a surprise to some fans. While Barron is in a different sonic setting the creativity remains, setting the stage for decades of innovation to come.