• Live Blog from the Village Vanguard: Kenny Barron 4

    August 27, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Kenny Barron 4 at the Vanguard

    Listen to the show.
    View some photos from tonight.

    Thanks for joining us tonight. It seems that New Yorkers consistently pack the Village Vanguard when Kenny Barron plays. Tonight is no exception to that rule. Another crowded house for our live show. Enjoy.

    The Kenny Barron 4 are:
    Kenny Barron - piano
    Kiyoshi Kitagawa - bass
    Francisco Mela - drums
    Dayna Stephens - tenor saxophone

    It has come.

    After a brief introduction of the band members, Kenny Barron launches into "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise."
    A standard from a standard-bearer of modern improvisation.

    Nice bass solo from Kiyoshi Kitagawa. I can hear him breathing. Kiyoshi has been with Kenny Barron for ten years.

    9:15pm Um Beijo, a Barron original. On the new CD, The Traveler. Lyrics on the record, sung by Grady Tate.
    "A kiss."

    Dayna Stephens is a young saxophonist with a well-tempered sound. Smoky. I like it.

    "Shuffle Boil," a Thelonious Monk composition. Perhaps you know about Sphere, the band that assembled after Monk's passing to continue his music in the famous Monk quartet sound? Kenny Barron, Charlie Rouse (then Gary Bartz), Buster Williams, and Ben Riley. Great records.

    Shuffle Boil is at a full boil. Dayna Stephens with a Charlie Rouse-ing solo. Forgive the bad pun...People who know me will tell you I cannot help myself...

    Who needs the Democratic National Convention? Give me this.

    "Blame it on My Youth"
    Kenny Barron was a great admirer of pianist Tommy Flanagan. Flanagan's photo is right next to the piano at the Village Vanguard.

    Another original, "New Samba."

  • Kenny Barron: Live At The Village Vanguard

    August 27, 2008. Posted by WBGO.

    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.