A Jazz Original

Hailed as one of the top jazz pianists in the world, Kenny Barron brings trio to Stockton PAC Monday

By Jeff Schwachter
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 22, 2009

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Throughout Barron’s career, critics and listeners have noted the haunting and “sensitive” elements in Barron’s work. It’s almost as if, with every note, Barron strives to present the passionate, blue, sad, sincere and beautiful aspects of life. Barron acknowledges there is a certain melancholic quality to his playing.

“It’s just something I’m attracted to,” says Barron. “I mean, I like pretty stuff. I’m just drawn to that; who knows why. It always has been that way.”



Sphere and Beyond

In the 1980s Barron co-founded the Thelonius Monk-minded band Sphere, which reassembled in the 1990s.

“Sphere is Monk’s middle name,” says Daniel Peterson. “It was the first repertory group to feature Monk’s music.”

One of the greatest motion-picture scores of the last 50 years, for Spike Lee’s 1988 Do The Right Thing, features Barron on a few tracks. “That was Spike Lee’s father [Bill Lee] who did the soundtrack and I knew him for years,” says Barron. “He’s a bassist. He used to work with a lot of folksingers during the 1960s. That’s when we met. Just from knowing me, he decided to call me.”

That the scenes in the film fit so magically with the score may be attributed to the fact that director Spike Lee was even involved in the music process of Do The Right Thing.

“Oh yeah, he was there for the sessions,” remembers Barron. “He was very much a hands-on kind of guy. He was very serious and he knew what he wanted.”

For Monday evening’s concert at Stockton, Barron will present his trio (featuring bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and Philly drummer Jonathan Blake) playing a combination of originals and standards.

Following his local appearance, Barron heads to Spain for some shows. Over the past decade, most of Barron’s performances have been overseas. “I only work in New York maybe two weeks out of the year,” he says. “It’s very difficult to tour in the United States now.

“I don’t know why,” Barron says laughing. “Well, number one, back when I was with Diz we used to tour a lot, but there were also a lot of clubs. And we’d stay there for two or three weeks in each club. That sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.”

“In jazz, business choices and artistic choices rarely meet,” says Daniel Peterson. “Barron hasn’t attached himself to passing fads or been outspoken about his own historic relevance. Instead, he allows his music to speak for itself.”

Kenny Barron
Where: Stockton College PAC
When: Monday, Oct. 26, 7:30pm
How Much: $25-$40

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