Kenny Barron consistently wins the jazz critics and readers polls, including Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz magazines. In 2005 he was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and won a MAC Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a six-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association and was as a finalist in the prestigious 2001 Jazz Par International Jazz Award.
Whether he is playing solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition.
He joined Dizzy Gillespie's band in 1962, where he developed an appreciation for Latin and Caribbean rhythms. After five years with Dizzy, Barron played with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, and Buddy Rich. In 1971 he joined Yusef Lateef's band. It is Lateef who Kenny credits as a key influence in his art for improvisation. In 1973 Kenny joined the faculty at Rutgers University as professor of music. He held this tenure until 2000, mentoring many of today's young talents including David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard, and Regina Bell. In 1974 he recorded his first album as a leader for the Muse label, entitled “Sunset To Dawn.” This was to be the first of over 40 recordings (and still counting!) as a leader.
Throughout the 1980's, Kenny collaborated with the great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, touring with his quartet and recording several albums, one of which was nominated for a Grammy (”People Time”) Also during the 80's, he co-founded the quartet “Sphere,” along with Buster Williams, Ben Riley and Charlie Rouse. This band focused on the music of Thelonious Monk and original compositions inspired by him. Sphere recorded several outstanding projects for the Polygram label, among them “Four For All” and “Bird Songs.” After the death of Charlie Rouse, the band took a 15-year hiatus and reunited, replacing Rouse with alto saxophonist Gary Bartz. This reformation made its debut recording for Verve Records in 1998.
In a 1994 Los Angeles Times interview with Zan Stewart, Barron reminisced about his collaboration with Getz: "Stan was very lyrical, and I like to play that way too, so it was great just to listen to his lines, observe his choice of notes. I listened, and I learned." Getz had his own take on their collaboration. He called Barron "the other half of my heart." Meanwhile during these years the ubiquitous Barron continued to be a fixture in the New York jazz world. In 1987 he was again performing with Ron Carter, who was now leading a quintet. In October of 1989 Barron had the sad honor of leading a musical tribute to his brother, Bill, who had died the previous month. Barron was also among the sidemen who performed on his brother’s final recording, Higher Ground.
In 1992 Barron formed another quintet with percussionist Mino Cinelu, Toninho Horta on guitar, Nico Assumpcao on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. The result was the recording Sambao. Barron also moved away from mainstream jazz, performing with bassist Charlie Haden and saxophonist Ornette Coleman. His next album, Swamp Sally, which also included Cinelu, is considered a minor classic of jazz funk. In the mid-1990s he led first a trio, then a quartet that included Lewis, Drummond, and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane. During the decade he also worked with such musicians as Bartz, violinist Regina Carter, vibraphonist Ray Alexander, Dusko Goykovich, Barney Wilen, Nick Brignola, and Ernie Watts.
Kenny Barron Trio
Recorded at The Avatar Studio in New York on May 4 & 5,2009.