Jazz musicians don’t come any classier or more polished than the great Kenny Barron, who brought a spectacular trio to the Lobero Theatre on April 18. Opening with a Thelonious Monk tune called “Shuffle Boil,” Barron consistently struck a lyrical tone throughout the evening while still affording room for his able rhythm section to stretch out and solo. As with many other great pianists, including the late Dave Brubeck, Barron seems to have a particular affinity for the drums, and as a result, this concert included several of the most spectacular drum solos of the season from Johnathan Blake. Barron’s take on the classic ballad “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise” allowed the audience to get to know bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa better, and the impression he made was one of subtle beauty and muscular, musical swing. Kitagawa shone again on “Nightfall,” a track that Barron originally recorded with the great bassist Charlie Haden. Throughout the performance what registered most was the degree to which Barron has mastered all the many styles and techniques of contemporary jazz, blending them in a way that recalled the greatest work of two of his longtime mentors, Ella Fitzgerald and Stan Getz. Highlights of the second set included the Bud Powell tribute “Bud Like” and a piece called “Cooks Bay” that Barron wrote after taking a trip to Tahiti with his wife. While this wasn’t quite a trip to Tahiti, with the magical spell woven by these musicians on a Monday night in Santa Barbara, it may have been the next best thing.
The Kenny Barron Trio
Kenny Barron Trio
Pianist Barron in Fine Form at Lobero
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
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