14 November 2019 **** Front Page
By Tapani Lausti
During my years in Spain I have witnessed the extraordinary rapport that seems to emerge between live jazz performers and Spanish listening audiences. I have observed with interest people’s behaviour at jazz festivals in Málaga, Almuñécar and San Sebastian. There is something sophisticated in the way the audiences seem to receive the sounds from the stage.
A solo piano performance in a large theatre – in this case Teatro Cervantes in Málaga – offered a good example. This was the annual Málaga Jazz Festival and the soloist was the great American pianist Kenny Barron. He kept the audience in hushed awe throughout solo numbers which included three compositions of Thelonious Monk, a couple of evergreens and a medley of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn pieces plus one tribute to recently deceased bassist and composer Charlie Haden. The sophistication of Kenny Barron’s touches on the keyboard shone magnificently through all these numbers. (Barron has said that he has loved Monk’s music since he was a teenager.)
I have enjoyed Kenny Barron's music ever since I first heard him in Helsinki in the 1960s, playing in Dizzy Gillespie's quintet. The second time I heard him live, he was playing solo piano at London's Tenor Clef club some time in the 1990s
For me, every new Kenny Barron album is a major event The latest is a quintet album Concentric Circles (Blue Note 2018). Before that I enjoyed the trio album Book of Intuition (Impulse! 2016) and a duo album with bassist Dave Holland, The Art of Conversation (Impulse! 2014).
Barron is an artist in the best jazz piano tradition. Shortly before his death, tenor saxophonist Stan Getz talked about the pianists he hugely admired, Kenny Barron among them. Getz and Barron played together on numerous memorable albums. Getz talked about Barron’s ability of putting his full persona on every piece he played.
But back to Málaga. The jazz festival here is a remarkable experience also because of a parallel festival called Festival Abierto. It offers several free concerts every day during the week. They take place in squares, restaurants and bars around the city and this time even in the suburbs. Musicians come from all around Spain, and also from abroad. This amazing string of concerts are organised by the great Sergio García Orbegozo. Thank you, Sergio!
Kenny Barron in Almuñécar
[home] [archive] [focus