96

Images: Kenny Barron Quintet

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Images: Kenny Barron Quintet 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 pigeonholing him is a logical assumption. 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, demonstrating 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; Miss Missy; Images

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

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Mirror, Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Mirror, Mirror
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "windS" CD/LP/Track Review windS
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake" CD/LP/Track Review Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Happy All the Time" CD/LP/Track Review Happy All the Time
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "The Catfish" CD/LP/Track Review The Catfish
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 15, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!