5/06/2018

Kenny Barron Quintet - Concentric Circles (2017)


Genre: Jazz | Total Time: 1:06:07 | Size: 138.88 MB | MP3 320 kbps
 
Tracklist:
01. DPW 04:51
02. Concentric Circles 07:26
03. Blue Waters 05:39
04. A Short Journey 05:28
05. Aquele Frevo Axe 08:15
06. Von Hangman 04:43
07. In the Dark 07:00
08. Baile 05:16
09. L's Bop 05:54
10. I'm Just Sayin' 06:51
11. Reflections 04:44
 
Kenny Barron, piano
Kiyoshi Kitagawa, bass (except track 11)
Johnathan Blake, drums (except track 11)
Mike Rodriquez, trumpet, flugelhorn (except track 11)
Dayna Stephens, soprano, tenor saxophone (except track 11)


Recorded March 19 & 20, 2017 at Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, NY
 
On his last two on impulses! Records released albums provided Kenny Barron with small casts for magical moments. In 2014, the pianist demonstrated "The Art Of Conversation" in intimate musical dialogues with bassist Dave Holland. The recording was named the album of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association. His "Book Of Intuition" he played in 2016 again in a trio with bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Johnathan Blake. The extensive discography of Kenny Barron is paved with such high-profile duo and trio recordings abundantly. Following his move to Blue Note Records, Barron is back on Kitagawa and Blake on his latest album "Concentric Circles". However, the sonic palette will be greatly enhanced this time by the addition of saxophonist Dayna Stephens and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez. "I've always wanted to record with a quintet because it gives me the opportunity to compose more," Barron notes soberly.

Of course, "Concentric Circles" is by no means Barron's first album in this format. Both the 1968 published album "You Had Better Listen", on which he was named alongside the trumpeter Jimmy Owens as a co-leader, as well as his 1973 launched solo debut album "Sunset To Dawn" he had already recorded with quintet ensembles. In the 1980s he directed another quintet with saxophonist John Stubblefield, trumpeter Wallace Roney, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Victor Lewis, who recorded the critically acclaimed 1986 album "What If". Two years later, with only a slightly changed line-up (Eddie Henderson replaced Roney), the no less excellent album "Live At Fat Tuesdays".

Barron's quintet from the late 1990s, made up of Henderson, saxophonist David Sánchez, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Billy Hart, also formed the core of the ensemble, with which Barron recorded "Spirit Song" in 2000. For "Images", he completely reorganized his quintet four years later, occupying it with vibraphonist Stefon Harris, flutist Anne Drummond, Kitagawa, and drummer Kim Thompson. Concentric Circles is now Barron's first true quintet publication since Images.

Kenny Barron presents not only his latest quintet, but also some of his own original compositions never before recorded by him. He opens with "DPW", a brisk hard-bop number, in which he pays tribute to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Ditmas Park West, where he is at home today. With the melody and its urban harmonies played in unison by trumpet and tenorsax, this 2013 song is reminiscent of the classics known from Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers or the Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-sixties. Through a first-class groove that moves between straight hard-bop and Afro-Latin rhythms, Barron beats a crystalline, yet lyrical, improvisation into the keys that makes it clear what a master of touch, phrasing and harmonic finesse he is is.

The title track "Concentric Circles" is followed by a tantalizing waltz, which is carried by the flickering rubato of the rhythm section and embellished with smooth solos by Barron, Stephens and Rodriguez. Blake's urging 6/8 rhythms drive "Blue Waters," another new Barron composition that is peppered with smart, blues-laden passages. After that, the sunny atmosphere of the first pieces in "A Short Journey" gives way to a more subdued timbre. The underworld ballad is characterized by casual brass melodies, pensive piano lines, floating cymbals and pulsating bass accompaniment.

But the mood cheers up in the next issue again. Barron surprises here with a charming reworking of Caetano Veloso and Cézar Mendes' "Aquele Frevo Axé". With this lithe samba jewel that Barron became aware of through a recording by Gal Costa, the pianist continues his ongoing love affair with Brazilian music. The contemplative mood contrasts sharply with the unpredictable nature of Barron's next original "Von Hangman," in which the piano, trumpet, and saxophone navigate through a maze of zig-zagging phrases, while the rhythm section propels them forward in a stirring gait.

Contemplatively, it is again in Barron's heartbreaking play "In The Dark", which he had originally composed in 2009 for the soundtrack of the movie "Another Harvest Moon". The song reveals Barron's talent for composing scenic music. He indulges in his penchant for Latin American rhythms again in the lively original "Baile". "L's Bop" was written by the drummer Lenny White and offers the two brass players and the leader an ideal opportunity to let off steam. In "I'm Just Sayin '", Barron provides a funky bass line that Kitagawa soon picks up before the piece hits an implied Crescent City groove.

The mind of Thelonious Monk is always present on Barron's recordings in one way or another. Here, he pays tribute to the jazz icon, which has influenced and inspired him so much, with a grand piano solo interpretation of the classic "Reflections". The pianist had recorded the number several times before, the first time in 1982 with the Monk tribute band Sphere for the album "Four In One", the - macabre coincidence! - just recorded the day Thelonious Monk died.

With "Concentric Circles," Kenny Barron, who turns 75 in June, underscores that he does not intend to rest on his laurels. Because as he shows on this album with eight own compositions and three fabulous interpretations, he still has a lot to tell his audience.
 

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