Kenny Barron Trio
(Ronnie Scott's. 15th May 2014. Forts night of three. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
Kenny Barron at his best is pure genius. Last time I heard the great pianist at Ronnie Scott's in 2011 he reached it - eventually - but kept us waiting. (REVIEW). The patience of some people didn't last that night, they missed the best. Last night was different. He was right there in his zone from the very first notes, playing magisterially, drawing inspiration, variety and beauty up from an inexhaustible well of ideas, voicing possibilities, melodic and harmonic inspiration. Every phrase was in balance with the last, and yet the start of each chorus marked a fresh and unexpected beginning. This was creativity with no barriers, the real deal, just stupendously, jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful piano playing throughout two sets. (we were spoilt last night: it's two houses per night for the remaining two nights of this residency).
Perhaps such a consistently high level of inspiration comes in part from having a band fresh off a European tour and thoroughly played-in. Bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa knows every twist and turn of Barron's arrangements. Over the years they have worked together - to re-work the cliche - he has become the pianist's trusted left hand. Kitagawa also does an improbably fast triple-stopping chordal thing in solos. Drummer Lee Pearson, newer to the set-up was discreet, unobtrusive but always flawlessly on the button.
One highlight among many was Eubie Blake's Memories of You, played solo by Barron , which brought the audience to its most intense moment of concentration, and in which the contrast of staccato and legato phrasing was taken to the limit.
Describing how good he felt about being in London, Barron quipped at one point: "If I spoke English better, I might consider moving here." Please, please develop that thought....
Support was from Georgia Mancio. Writers on this site have recently drawn attention to how she has developed as an artist in the past two years. Her high point last night was in a poignant We'll be Together Again sung in dedication to her late father. It was communicative, moving yet perfectly controlled and thoughtful singing, with Barry Green keeping the accompaniment deliciously sparse, Sam Burgess producing resonant and sympathetic support from the lower reaches of the E string of the bass,and drummer Gary Willcox watchful, careful, capturing the mood.
KENNY BARRON TRIO: FIRST SET
How Deep is the Ocean
The Very Thought of You
Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
New York Attitude*
Memories of You (piano solo)
Song For Abdullah*