June 18, 2024

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CD review: Christian McBride & Kenny Barron – Jazz Icons At Trinity Church Wall Street – 2023: Video, CD cover

Eight-time GRAMMY-winning bassist Christian McBride is the Artistic Director of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS and has performed with jazz greats like Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Joe Henderson, Diana Krall, and Chick Corea, as well as pop legends like Sting, The Roots, Paul McCartney, and Celine Dion. He will be joined by pianist Kenny Barron, a recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master honorary. He has shared the stage with Dizzy Gillespie, Ron Carter, Stan Getz, Yusef Lateef, and Regina Carter.

Honored by The National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Los Angeles Times named him “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and Jazz Weekly calls him “The most lyrical piano player of our time.” Philadelphia is the birthplace of many great musicians, including one of the undisputed masters of the jazz piano: Kenny Barron. Kenny was born in 1943 and while a teenager, started playing professionally with Mel Melvin’s orchestra. This local band also featured Barron’s brother Bill, the late tenor saxophonist.

JAZZ ICONS: Christian McBride + Kenny Barron

Kenny Barron’s own recordings for Verve have earned him nine Grammy nominations beginning in 1992 with “People Time” an outstanding duet with Stan Getz followed by the Brazilian influenced “Sambao and most recently for “Freefall” in 2002. Other Grammy nominations went to “Spirit Song”, “Night and the City” (a duet recording with Charlie Haden) and “Wanton Spirit” a trio recording with Roy Haynes and Haden. It is important to note that these three recordings each received double-Grammy nominations (for album and solo performance.) His CD, “Canta Brasil” (Universal France) linked Barron with Trio de Paz in a fest of original Brazilian jazz, and was named Critics Choice Top Ten CDs of 2003 by JazzIz Magazine. His 2004 release, Images (Universal France) was inspired by a suite originally commissioned by The Wharton Center at Michigan State University and features multi-Grammy nominated vibraphonist Stefon Harris. The long awaited trio sequel featuring Ray Drummond and Ben Riley, The Perfect Set, Live At Bradley’s, Part Two (Universal France/Sunnyside) was released October 2005.

In Spring 2008 Mr. Barron released The Traveler (Universal France), an intoxicating mix of favorite Barron tunes set to lyrics and newly penned compositions. For his first vocal based recording, Barron invited Grady Tate (who sheds his drumsticks for this special appearance), Tony award winner Ann Hampton Calloway and the young phenom Gretchen Parlato, winner of the Thelonious Monk International Competition for Jazz. On “Um Beijo”, Mr. Tate’s warm, leathery voice balanced by Mr. Barron’s poignant touch make for a beautifully textured conversation, underscoring their longtime on stage collaboration. Another Barron original, “Clouds” is a lush vehicle for Ann Hampton Calloway’s romantic pitch-perfect yearnings matched with Barron’s trademark mastery of subtlety. The dramatic “Phantoms” intertwines Parlato’s ephemeral intimacy and syncopatic rhythms in an emotional escapade between Barron’s haunting notes, the West African stylings of guitarist Lionel Loueké, drummer Francisco Mela (who also adds a Cuban flavor to the vocals) and the driving bass of Kiyoshi Kitagawa. The journey continues with the aptly named “Duet” an improvisation with Benin-born Loueké who also joins the trio for a rousing version of Barron’s “Calypso”. A composer who relishes in the moment, Barron’s modern approach is highlighted by alto saxophonist Steve Wilson’s open musings on “Illusion” and “The Traveler” who also brings an urgency to the fun-paced “Speed Trap”.

After a successful musical meeting of the minds with bassist Dave Holland, the two masters decided to collaborate on a duet project to be released on Impulse/Universal records in 2014 followed by a tour. Barron consistently wins the jazz critics and readers polls, including Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz magazines. The famed Spanish ceramist Lladro honored Mr. Barron with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater SUNY Empire State in 2013 and from Berklee College of Music in 2011. In 2009 he received the Living Legacy Award from Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and won a MAC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He is a six-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association. Whether he is playing solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition.

1. How Deep Is The Ocean
2. Isfahan
3. Triste
4. All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm
5. Body And Soul
6. Love Walked In
7. Sunshower
8. Rhythm-A-Ning

Kenny Barron – piano
Christian McBride – bass

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