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Kenny Barron: Peruvian Blue

Jim Santella By

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Recorded in 1974 for Muse and recently reissued on CD by 32 Jazz, Kenny Barron’s second release as a leader features his expressive piano sound in "conversations" with lyrical guitarist Ted Dunbar. The format varies from a sextet, quartet, duo, and solo piece; however, that variety simply serves to allow the leader to offer different messages.

Of the four Kenny Barron compositions, "Peruvian Blue" stands apart as the one most representative of genre changes taking place in jazz during the early 1970s. The electric piano, delicate electric guitar, electric bass, and myriad percussive textures evoke a mood that portrays a combination of South American native culture, natural countryside landscapes, and modernism. The ensemble includes bassist David Williams, conguero Richard Landrum, percussionist Sonny Morgan and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath. They rejoin Barron and Dunbar on "Two Areas" for more of what folks were then calling "fusion." Barron’s tasteful "modern" music of the time, however, was closer to that of Gil Evans than to any of the loud distorted sounds that became more popular through the 1970s and ‘80s.

In three, "The Procession" features the acoustic quartet: Barron’s piano, Williams’ upright bass, Dunbar’s expressive guitar, and Heath’s supportive brushes. "In the Meantime" contrasts that with an electric quartet bursting with funk & "fusion." "Here’s That Rainy Day" is performed as a solo piano recital that exhibits the pianist’s superior talent. The timeless "Blue Monk" is what makes this album so valuable. Dunbar and Barron perform it as a duo and converse for almost nine minutes in the spirit you’d expect. Recommended.

Track Listing: Peruvian Blue; Blue Monk; The Procession; Two Areas; Here

| Record Label: 32 Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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