In 2018, the esteemed pianist, composer, bandleader and educator Kenny Barron celebrates his 75th birthday and marks the 50th year of a remarkable recording career that shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the year is punctuated by yet another milestone: the release of his Blue Note debut Concentric Circles, a sublime 11-song set that finds the 11-time Grammy nominee returning to a dynamic quintet setting.
On Barron’s previous two Impulse! releases – The Art of Conversation and Book of Intuition – he created magic in more intimate settings: duo with bassist Dave Holland and trio with drummer Johnathan Blake and bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, respectively. And while duo and trio outings have set many of the high-water marks of Barron’s enormous discography, his 1968 debut LP You Had Better Listen was a quintet session co-led with trumpeter Jimmy Owens, as well as his critically acclaimed 1986 LP What If with trumpeter Wallace Roney, saxophonist John Stubblefield, bassist Cecil McBee, and drummer Victor Lewis.
On Concentric Circles, he introduces a new edition of the Kenny Barron Quintet featuring Blake and Kitagawa along with saxophonist Dayna Stephens and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez. “I’ve wanted to do a quintet date because I get to write more,” Barron says matter-of-factly, clearly relishing the opportunity to expand his sonic palette on these eight original compositions plus new interpretations of songs by Caetano Veloso, Thelonious Monk, and Lenny White.
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