NY Jazz Report's Thad Kawecki and Will Wolf discuss Kenny Barron and his recent performance at the Village Vanguard. Wolf was there on Sunday 23.November for both sets as Barron and his sextet ended their weeklong engagement.
Kenny Barron Piano
Terell Stafford Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Vincent Herring Alto Saxophone
Ravi Coltrane Tenor Saxophone
Kiyoshi Kitagawa Bass
Ben Riley Drums
Wolf: It's impossible not to love the Vanguard. Over the years I've witnessed so many superb performances by such an array of jazz greats. And each time I go there, it's with a memory of all that jazz history; it adds another dimension. I'm sure the musicians share a similar experience which probably helps to elevate their talents. There are few pianists today that excite me as much as Kenny Barron. Whether he's performing solo, with a trio, or with a larger ensemble, he always communicates his musical message with an enlightened magic. He is one of my personal favorites. And listening to him and his sextet last week was particularly satisfying. It was one of those heightened adventures.
Kawecki: I'm sorry I missed this performance. Kenny Barron has never disappointed me and I wish I could have been there with you. Could you give me an overview of the repertoire?
Wolf: The evening was a mixed bag that included several Barron originals, as always a couple of Monk tunes --- in this case "EVIDENCE" and "SHUFFLE BOIL" --- and two beautifully rendered standards, "SWEET LORRAINE" and "BLAME IT OWN MY YOUTH."
Kawecki: I know you love ballads, so let's start there. Could you give me some details? How was "BLAME IT OWN MY YOUTH?"
Wolf: Poignant. Very expressive. It featurerd Terell Stafford on flugelhorn backed by Barron and the rhythm section. His heartfelt statement of the melody blended skillfully with Barron's lush piano. This tune was a perfect showcase for Stafford, who delivered a warm & very moving solo.
Kawecki: Sounds like a highlight. Were there similar moments in other tunes?
Wolf: Sure.Three stand out. One would be Barron's performance of "SHUFFLE BOIL." He truly demonstrated his mastery of the Monk temperment and keyboard style. It was a real masterpiece of improvisation. Another would be the full ensemble's version of another Monk tune, "EVIDENCE." It really clicked, with a fine arrangement and great execution of a difficult number. And, all the solo work was very well done. Finally, a trio rendition of Sweet Lorraine. Barron's lyrical and flowing piano lines brought a special energy to this old classic gem. And, Kitagawa and Riley added the perfect support.
Kawecki: Can you tell me a little more about Coltane and Herring.
Wolf: As you already know, they are both excellent players. Along with Stafford, they provided solid ensemble playing with solos that were clearly inspired by both the material and the group's musical chemistry. They were great choices for this gig.
Kawecki: Any disappointments with the evening?
Wolf: No. Not really. You must be disappointed, though. You missed a good one.
Kawecki: Certainly sounds like it. I'll be sure to catch them next time around.
KENNY BARRON Website
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