267

Kenny Barron Quintet: Images

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Kenny Barron Quintet: Images Pianist Kenny Barron is usually thought of more as an accompanist than a leader, and that’s odd; with around forty albums to his name over the past thirty years, he’s had no shortage of opportunity for direct exposure. But with over three hundred recordings as a guest, including work with Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard and Ron Carter, he may be second only to Mulgrew Miller as the hardest working pianist around; and it’s easy, with that kind of ratio, to think of him as the consummate musical companion.

It’s also easy to place him in a bit of a time bubble, as he has recorded so many straight-ahead sessions that pigeon-holing him is a logical thing to do. However, he can be as modern as the best of them, in a post bop context; and his latest quintet release, Images , proves just that. With only two standards in the ten-song set, the balance of the tunes are written by Barron himself, with the exception of two contributions by vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and demonstrates that he is an advanced player who may be strongly informed by the American jazz tradition but is equally influenced by classical impressionism; perhaps less overtly so than, say, Bill Evans, but the roots are clearly there.

The focal point of the album, the eighteen-minute title track which closes the album, indicates just how broad his scope is. An extended composition that traverses a number of movements, this may be Barron’s magnum opus; a remarkable piece that has one convinced that they are listening to a player/writer of a much younger vintage, it demonstrates just how influential Barron has been to more than one generation of artist. Sophisticated and elegant, thoughtful and moving, it is the perfect blend of structure and abandon.

Barron’s rather unusual quintet lineup is equally impressive. Harris and flautist Anne Drummond flesh out the front line; Harris is his usual self, cerebral without losing site of the emotional content of the material; Drummond is an under-exposed performer with a rich-textured tone and lyrical bent. Bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Kim Thompson make a highly capable rhythm section, swinging hard when necessary but capable of extreme delicacy also.

Title track aside, other highlights include the complex opening track, “So It Seems,” where Barron immediately sets the bar high for the rest of the record; Harris’ tender “The Lost Ones,” where the combination of flute, vibes and piano makes for a particularly appealing ambience; and an up-tempo, heavily reharmonized version of Wayne Shorter’s classic, “Footprints.”

Barron shows with Images that he deserves to be recognized as much a leader and composer as an accompanist. And with this fine quintet on the road this summer, hopefully concentrating on material from the recording, more people will come to see him as exactly that.

Visit Kenny Barron and Sunnyside Records on the web.


Track Listing: So It Seems; Jasmine Flower; Inside Out; The Lost Ones; Hallucinations; Song for Abdullah; Footprints; Marie Laveau; Missy Missy; Images

Personnel: Kenny Barron (piano), Stefon Harris (vibraphone), Anne Drummond (alto and c-flute), Kiyoshi Kitagawa (bass), Kim Thompson (drums)

Title: Images | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Mata Hati" CD/LP/Track Review Mata Hati
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Daylight Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "All Through the Night" CD/LP/Track Review All Through the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 9, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.