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Kenny Barron: The Source


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Kenny Barron: The Source
He may admit to jitters whenever he first sits down at his chosen instrument to record or perform, but elder statesman and NEA Master Kenny Barron never fails to elicit a warm, enveloping sense of elegy, wit and emotional balance to whatever setting the music finds him.

On his first solo go-round in forty years, The Source, like its distant predecessor At The Piano (Xanadu, 1982) has Barron brimming with the same empathy and effervescence, but with all the reflective nature the years tend to instill in a man who has made one to one conversation an art form. An art form with his peers, ranging from Dave Holland to Regina Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Booker Ervin, to Mulgrew Miller, as well as listeners far and wide.

"What If?" reimagined and reframed from its bop conscious 1986 original (on Enja's What If?), finds renewed power in a bass line that is impossible to avoid. It not only underpins the melody, it actively becomes it as The Source sails forth from there. As he has for year out of reverence and inquisitiveness, Barron revisits Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's "Isfahan" with a glee reminiscent of Thelonious Monk. Which makes perfect sense in so many ways since Monk's own slipknot, "Teo," exuberantly follows. Deft, agile, lyrical and vibrant, Barron brings all his emotion to another Strayhorn epiphany, "Daydreams," before bringing us to a quiet place of Zen on his own "Dolores Street SF."

More Monk follows with the chromatic skip of "Well You Needn't" and, if Barron still needs a spotlight for his love of barrelhouse and Monk himself, well here it is. A steady rolling energy emanates from the track and you sense Barron, whose sense of improv is as alive here as on any other of The Source's nine highlight performances, is really enjoying himself. The disc closes with two highly regarded Barron staples: "Sunshower," its melodic resonance still a source of invention after its initial hearing on Innocence (Wolf, 1978), and "Phantoms.," which still holds all its dark tones even when the master steers the tune away from them, serving as a final reflection on a man who can make light and dark his building blocks without relying heavily on either.

Track Listing

What If?; Isfahan; Teo; Daydream; I'm Confessin'; Dolores Street SF; Well You Needn't; Sunshower; Phantoms.


Kenny Barron: piano.

Album information

Title: The Source | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Artwork Records

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