Album: 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.
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.
Album: 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.
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Tickets may be purchased in-person at the Info & Tickets desk in the lobby of the SSU Student Center, Monday through Friday from 10 am until 6 pm.
The Green Music Center Box Office located in the courtyard of Weill Hall is open one hour prior to most performances.