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08 May

Kenny Barron Interview

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Kenny Barron has played next to some Jazz legend such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Ron Carter among others and he has been nominated nine times for Grammy Awards and for the American Jazz Hall of Fame. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. For over 25 years, Barron taught piano and keyboard harmony at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He now teaches at the Juilliard School of Music. His piano students have included Earl MacDonald, Harry Pickens, and Aaron Parks.

Kenny Barron is consequently considered one of the most important and influential mainstream jazz pianists since the BeBop era. He has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. Whether he is playing solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition.He is coming to Gazarte on November 8 with Dave Holland for a unique performance.

1- You have been playing jazz music for almost 50 years. In which way do you think that the jazz scene is different today than it was when you started ?
KB - "First off, there aren't as many venues available to perform the music,  especially for the young musicians. it makes it more difficult for young musicians to develop their sound in front of an audience which is how most of us grow. It's almost impossible to do 3 month tours in the US like we used to. In fact, even a two week tour would be seen as a long run. However, the music does find a way to evolve despite these limitations and that is always encouraging.  It keeps me moving forward."

2-You have been teaching for more than 25 years.  What do you think about the new generation of jazz musician ?
KB - Students in the jazz programs today are much better prepared than 25 years ago. They tend to approach the music more from a cerebral and technical point of view as opposed to an emotional place which skews the music in a different direction. From my point of view, ideally you need both in order to connect with an audience.

3- What were your early musical influences  and which musician was special to you  ?
KB - I always credit Tommy Flanagan for helping me find my voice as a pianist.  I loved his touch- it was unlike any one else - he had a very distinctive sound and a unique way of phrasing. He could say so much with just a few notes. I admired the way he could play a chord and coax the most gentle feel from it and yet it would have this huge impact on the music. I learned the importance of melody - no matter how you play, it's melody that allows people to connect emotionally with the music.

4- With all those people you have worked with, which one do you believe is closer to you musically ?
KB - Working with Freddie Hubbard and Yusef Lateef was important to me because they both had a spirit of adventure- they would try different things and they would still be rooted in the tradition.

5- What are you working on these days  ?
KB - I am currently touring with bassist Dave Holland as a duo. We have just recorded a CD that will come out on Impulse/Universal Records in Fall 2014 and we will tour the US and Europe in support of it. I also will continue working with my trio and we plan to record a Quintet record with Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Johnathan Blake, Dayna Stephens and Mike Rodriguez. They are another group of young musicians that play with a lot of fire, heart and eloquence. Everyone is going to bring in original music so it will be a fantastic way to play each other's music. We just finished a sold out week at the Village Vanguard in New York and we all had so much fun we decided we had to record. 

Interview Patricia Graire – May 2014

More about Kenny Barron  http://www.jazzonline.gr/en/articlesinterviews/musicians-in-town/item/2609-kenny-barron.html


Last modified on Thursday, 12 October 2017 18:11