WBGO Blog
  • Kenny Barron: Live At The Village Vanguard

    August 27, 2008. Posted by WBGO.

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    Kenny Barron. (Image Credit: Carol Friedman)

    A living bridge between multiple generations of jazz, 65-year-old Kenny Barron is still consistently recognized as one of the most talented all-around pianists in New York. He brings a quartet of young musicians downtown to the Village Vanguard for a live performance broadcast on air by WBGO and online at NPR Music.

    As a pianist, Barron sums a wide range of interests into his palette: driving bebop, delicate ballads, bounding calypso and rhythms from across Brazil. He brought them all to bear at the Vanguard, with pretty harmonies and fast-flying chops alike. Barron called an uptempo take on "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" as an opener — as he began his 2001 duet album Freefallwith violinist Regina Carter. He then launched into swaying Brazilian-inflected numbers ("Um Beijo," "New Samba"), a lyrical ballad ("Blame It On My Youth"), underheard Monk repertoire ("Shuffle Boil") and a favorite hard-swinging original ("And Then Again," a blues). Along the way, excellent young sidemen complemented him: The smoky-toned saxophonist Dayna Stephens, the versatile, sensitive bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and the rhythmically adroit drummer Francisco Mela.

    Now a mentor to young musicians, Kenny Barron was once the talented protege, accompanying his saxophone-playing brother Bill Barron (over 16 years his elder), and being tapped to join Dizzy Gillespie's combo before his 20th birthday. Over the next 45-odd years, Barron continued to work with the finest players from every era; highlights include co-founding the group Sphere, which interpreted music of Thelonious Monk, and collaborating with Stan Getz over the course of several albums.

    Many of New York's finest young jazz musicians know Barron both as a pianist and a teacher. Under the encouragement of multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef, Barron pursued a college education and earned a degree while touring. In 1973, he began teaching at Rutgers University; he continues to mentor top talent at the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard.

    Having recorded over 40 albums as a leader alone, Barron is still producing fresh, original music. His latest record The Traveler arrives the week of his appearance at the Vanguard.

  • Kenny Barron - Interview and Shuffle

    August 27, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Kenny Barron Photo by Carol Friedman

    We're presenting pianist Kenny Barron tonight at the Village Vanguard. Barron's new recording, The Traveler, released yesterday. We talk about living with music, something that Kenny Barron has done for most of his life. Hear the honesty, humility, and everything else that makes Kenny Barron one of today's most well-regarded jazz musicians. It's all in this interview.

    Now seems as good a time as any to tell you about an idea that has been germinating in my mind. I have been building a Frankenstein in WBGO's covert ops laboratory. It's a radio show/new media platform/chimera called Living With Music, and you will be hearing more about this in the coming months. One of the features is called Shuffle, where I invite a musician into the studio, ask them to bring their digital music player, set it to access their playlist randomly, and we improvise from there. I always thought it was a perfect vehicle for the broad listening habits of jazz musicians. Jazz covers of Sting and Radiohead, a string quartet playing a famous jazz tune, an original composition... that's just some of the stuff on Kenny Barron's iPod. So here's a sample of the feature, before it gets edited into a finely-crafted production for Living With Music. Let's call it a rough edit, if you care about the nitty gritty details of production terminology.
    Check it out.

    -Josh

  • Mark O'Connor Interview with Bill O'Donnell

    August 27, 2008. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Mark O’Connor

    A preeminent violinist stopped by our studios yesterday. The breadth of Mark O'Connor's work is nothing short of astonishing, yet one wonders how he remains so humble and approachable. He leaps from one idiom to another in effortless fashion, as you will encounter after listening to his interview with WBGO's Bill O'Donnell. He's one of the original cross-over musicians, equally adept at playing in classical, country, world, or jazz styles. He talks about his new orchestral work "Americana" being recorded this month by The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with Marin Alsop, his fondness of for bluegrass fiddler Benny Thomasson, and his upcoming performance with his "Hot Swing Trio" at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival this Labor Day Weekend. - Simon Rentner