Kenny Barron Quartet
Honored by The National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Los Angeles Times named him “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and Jazz Weekly calls him “The most lyrical piano player of our time.”
The Philadelphia native started playing professionally as a teenager with Mel Melvin’s orchestra and Philly Joe Jones. He moved to New York City at 19 and freelanced with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody, after the tenor saxophonist heard him play at the Five Spot. Upon Moody’s recommendation Dizzy Gillespie hired Barron in 1962 without even hearing him play a note. It was in Dizzy’s band where Kenny 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. The early seventies found Kenny working with Yusef Lateef who Kenny credits as a key influence in his art for improvisation. Encouraged by Lateef, to pursue a college education, Barron balanced touring with studies and earned his B.A. in Music from Empire State College, By 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 Kenny recorded his first album as a leader for the Muse label, entitled Sunset To Dawn. This was to be the first in over 40 recordings as a leader. His duo album with Stan Getz during the late 1980s, People Time led to the first of 11 GRAMMY nominations received for his recordings. Without Deception, his 2020 follow up with bassist Dave Holland to The Art of Conversation (Impulse) was noted as one of the top releases of the year. The 2016 CD, Book of Invention (Impulse) was Barron’s first trio outing in 20 years and marked the first recording ever with his bandmates bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Johnathan Blake. In 2018 Barron released Concentric Circles featuring his quintet.
Barron consistently wins the jazz critics and readers polls, including Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz magazines. The famed Spanish ceramist Lladro honored Mr. Barron with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater SUNY Empire State in 2013 and from Berklee College of Music in 2011. In 2009 he received the Living Legacy Award from Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and won a MAC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He is a seven-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association.