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Kenny Barron

A thorough examination of Kenny Barron's musical accomplishments over a span of 50 years necessitates a discography of more than 200 pages. That's because in addition to a distinguished career as soloist and leader he has served as one of the most dependable sidemen in all of post-bop mainstream modern jazz. More than 40 albums have appeared under his name, and his presence on literally hundreds of recordings by other musicians paints a panoramic picture of Kenny Barron's lifelong devotion to the music.

Born in Philadelphia, PA, on June 9, 1943, he took on the piano at the age of 12, with a little help from Ray Bryant's sister, known today as the mother of guitarist Kevin Eubanks. Three years later, on the recommendation of his own big brother saxophonist Bill Barron (1927-1989), he joined Mel Melvin's rhythm & blues band. The aspiring pianist gained more experience while working with drummer Philly Joe Jones and saxophonist Jimmy Heath as well as multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef in Detroit. Lateef's album The Centaur and the Phoenix (1960) was Kenny Barron's first modern jazz recording project -- not as a performer (Joe Zawinul was the pianist on this date) but as composer and arranger.

His recording debut as an improvising artist took place shortly after he moved to New York in 1961 and cut the first of many albums with his brother, who often aligned himself with two graduates of the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop, trumpeter Ted Curson and saxophonist Booker Ervin. A session in 1962 found Barron working with trumpeter Dave Burns, onetime member of sax and flute man James Moody's exciting bop orchestra. Moody himself played an important role in Barron's career, first hiring him to perform at the Village Vanguard, then bringing him into Dizzy Gillespie's band. Barron stuck with Diz and Moody until 1966, performing at clubs and festivals on both coasts and touring through France and England.

Kenny Barron's first great year of independent recording activity was 1967. In addition to co-leading a band with trumpeter Jimmy Owens, the pianist made records with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and saxophonists Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Tyrone Washington, Booker Ervin, and Eric Kloss. Barron seldom recorded with anyone just once. His discography is thickly woven with inspiring names that recur with the regularity of intricate and colorful patterns that invite further scrutiny. Examples of artists who made a lot of records with Barron during the 1970s are sax and flute men James Moody and Yusef Lateef and bassists Ron Carter and Buster Williams, with people like Earl and Carl Grubbs, Marion Brown, and Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson expanding the range of expression beyond perceived parameters of predictability and accessibility. This healthy combination of freedom and discipline would continue to bear fruit as Barron worked regularly with saxophonists Chico and Von Freeman, John Stubblefield, Nick Brignola, and Stan Getz (with whom he toured extensively during Getz's twilight years). The stylistic range continued to widen as Barron sat in with violinists Michal Urbaniak and John Blake, drummer Elvin Jones, and singing trombonist Ray Anderson.

During the '80s, Kenny Barron composed the score for Spike Lee's film Do the Right Thing, appeared on multi-performer tribute albums honoring composers Nino Rota and Thelonious Monk, and became a founding member (with Charlie Rouse, Buster Williams, and Ben Riley) of the definitive Monk legacy band, known as Sphere. Later developments continued to illustrate Barron's remarkable ability to blend with and complement a broad spectrum of artists, such as trumpeters Lee Morgan, Johnny Coles, Chet Baker, Woody Shaw, Eddie Henderson, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Terence Blanchard, and Wallace Roney; clarinetists Perry Robinson and Alvin Batiste; saxophonists Benny Carter, Gary Bartz, Lee Konitz, Eddie Harris, Bobby Watson, Frank Morgan, and Ernie Watts; guitarists George Freeman, Larry Coryell, Ted Dunbar, Jim Hall, and Joshua Breakstone; organist Jimmy McGriff; violinist Regina Carter; bassists Red Mitchell, Dave Holland, and Santi Debriano; vibraphonists Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, and Charlie Shoemake; drummers Louis Hayes, Roy Brooks, and Roy Haynes; percussionist Babatunde Lea; and bandleader Gerald Wilson.

Barron's history of collaborations with vocalists begins with nonchalant scatter Jackie Paris and includes Joe Lee Wilson, Michael Franks, Janis Siegel, Roseanna Vitro, Maria Muldaur, Sheila Jordan, Sathima Bea Benjamin, Teresa Brewer, Mark Murphy, Jimmy Scott, Roberta Flack, Jane Monheit, Jon Lucien, Abbey Lincoln, and Ann Hampton Callaway. A respected educator who has taught at Rutgers, Juilliard, and the Manhattan School of Music, Kenny Barron continues to create music of exceptionally high quality and substantial depth, something he has done for half a century, whether using the Fender Rhodes electromechanical keyboard, a plugged-in harpsichord, a synthesizer, or his lifelong companion, that fundamental jazz instrument, the piano. ~ arwulf arwulf, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

spensoid
Holy crap there is so much substance in his playing! Also check him out on one on Jimmy Scott's records, unreal.
tommy_hester
always put him on when I am playing chess.
bob55148
My man. The brother can play my kind of soulful silky smooth rhymes that heals the mindful and
The hearts of us all
this guy is Great ! Can't believe I never heard of him
The. First. Year
by. Kenny. Barron
Kenny Barron...a musicians musician.
H Brian
This is as good as it gets! Deep, gentle and profound, all rolled into one.
A truly gifted piano-talent ! Subtle & melodic & classy!
Love those bass solos
im not leaving nothing, ,,
rffian73
KB IS THE BOMB
Kenny is all that!!! Caught him live at the Baltimore Museum of the Arts - last summer - what a treat!!! His piano playing is soothing to the soul.
Absolutely beautiful music
sales5277
He is great
doc62460
I have known him for many years, and his music sounds as good now as back in the day. Keep it going on strong KB
A melodic and beautiful piece. Thanks, Pandora!
mackey.famil y 1
Of the chain... I was listening to Chick Corea mainly... but this guy is just as good to me..
yvettesledge
I enjoy the calmness of his music, reminds me of when life was smooth and relaxing. Thank you Kenny. I am getting alot of work here at work today, with you in the background. I am definitely adding you to my radio list without quick mix:-)
a mello sound for a mello day
Love this! It's the smooth that I need in my day. It kinda of lulls you into the day and for me that's the best way to get into a day.
He is awesome in his own right, the sidemen are often greater than the "so called" GREATS. Right On Kenny Barron
WOW!!!!!!! Never heard of this guy WOW!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
mwhitakersr
Way Underrated Legend-- out of this world gifted. His peers feel him.
WOW!!!! Its the first time I am actually hearing some Kenny Barron - this really swings - I have heard of him but I dont think I remember hearing any of his tunes - this is some great jazz.
I used to see Baron at Bradly's on University Place in the Village as much as I could and those evenings were always magical
one of the things i love about pandora radio is it introduces me to artists i probably would've never had the priviledge to hear otherwise. kenny barron is one of those artists... i look forward to hearing more from his archives.
i know he teaches at julliard sometimes.
he is a gentleman and a very humble man. i love him and his music. his playing is inspiring and brilliant.
I first saw and heard Kenny as a sideman with The Chico Freeman Quartet in Bangladesh in 1983 (the group was on a USIA-sponsor e d tour). I fell in love with his playing then, and own many, many of his recordings. He's so versatile and always swinging and musical. Some of the selected discography is excellent, but don't neglect his 1970s and 1980s output. So good that people are listening to Kenny B.!
love skylark runs
I believe I heard that Kenny Barron was a professor of music at a college on the East Coast. Any truth to that, and if so, what college?
zorandodo
what a music?just perfect for afternoon relax.love it!
Never heard of Mr.Kenny Baron until a few minutes ago big THANKS PANDORA RADIO.... i'M a fan right away!!!!

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