Title - The Source
Artist - Kenny Barron
For those unaware, NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron issues his first solo piano release since 1981. The Source presents a personal expression at its most intentional and most vulnerable. He relies solely on the music and the moment to guide his exploration.
Returning to four original compositions and five enduring tunes, he creates new pathways through familiar forms. Each song, however orchestrated and tempoed, becomes an intimate gesture. The Source will be released on January 20th, 2023 via Artwork Records.
�One of the things I�m after when I�m playing is communicating on an emotional level,� says the 79-year-old artist. �A response of �Hmmm�� is not what I�m after; �That was really interesting,� is not what I�m after. I want people to feel something.�
The Source abandons pretense. In stretching out � at times, settling his solo performance nerves � Barron transmits truth. Over the years, he�s allowed the record�s nine selections � each reflecting a poignant turn in his development and a vivid memory � to move rapidly or evolve slowly, in different directions.
And while their interpretation may change from one performance to the next, sometimes moment to moment, his approach persists. �To be able to move somebody, to me, is the highest compliment.�
1. What If? (8:02)
2. Isfahan (6:14)
3. Teo (6:06)
4. Daydream (9:41)
5. I�m Confessin� (6:16)
6. Dolores Street, SF (8:54)
7. Well You Needn�t (5:50)
8. Sunshower (8:35)
9. Phantoms (8:01)
This absolutely masterful new recording opens on the title track of his 1986 recording, the dutiful What If? and a lushly orchestrated rendition of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington�s Isfahan and then brings us a playfully profound depiction of Thelonious Monk�s Teo, a near ten minute rendition of Billy Strayhorn�s Daydream, and then comes one of my own personal favorites, a veritably shimmering I�m Confessin.�
On an album that proffers an expansion of Barron�s live expression, we continue onward with a track he first recorded on his 1982 release Spiral, the contemplatively melodic Dolores Street, SF, a deeply toned, resonant rendering of Ellington�s Well You Needn�t, the album rounding out on the richly thrilling Sunshower, closing on a track that he has performed with his quintet since 1986, the organically woven melodies found within Phantoms.
On The Source, Barron pays the simplest melodies nuanced attention, romancing dissonance for the sweetest sounds. He gives listeners permission to let go, providing an anchor of motion from one section to the next. But perhaps most intrinsic to Barron�s sound, after so many years, is its humanness. He plays through uncertainty, translates strength and frailty, and remains at once present and reflective.
�Playing solo is still nerve-racking,� says Barron. �After the first song, it usually goes away. It�s the initial feeling of sitting down alone. You realize there�s no one else to cover you if you make a mistake. You�re out there by yourself. Which is okay. But it always takes a minute to realize that it�s okay.�
More than 40 years after his last solo piano release, The Source shares a fresh translation of a long held truth in Barron�s artistry: �You�re always your most critical peer. You always hear what you missed, what you didn�t play right. But the listener can�t react to what your intentions are. They can only react to what they hear. If you�re connecting with them on an emotional level, that�s what matters.�
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