Kenny Barron Quintet – Concentric Circles (2018)

Kenny Barron Quintet - Concentric Circles (2018)
Artist: Kenny Barron Quintet
Album: Concentric Circles
Genre: Post-Bop, Mainstream Jazz
Origin: USA
Released: 2018
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Concentric Circles
Blue Waters
A Short Journey
Aquele Frevo Axé
Von Hangman
In the Dark
L’s Bop
I’m Just Sayin’


Pianist Kenny Barron celebrates his 75th birthday with his Blue Note debut, 2018’s sophisticated quintet album, Concentric Circles. An 11-time Grammy-nominated artist, Barron is a journeyman performer with over five decades of highly regarded work under his belt, including stints with titans like Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Stan Getz, and many others. He brings all of that experience to bear here with a largely original set of swinging, harmonically nuanced compositions. Backing him are his longtime bandmates bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Johnathan Blake, along with added quintet members trumpeter Mike Rodriguez and saxophonist Dayna Stephens. In a sense, Concentric Circles is a continuation of Barron’s recent trio albums 2015’s Interplay and 2016’s Book of Intuition, both of which showcased his lithe improvisational skills, and deft sense of group interplay. Here, he expands that approach, offering up richly arranged melodies and songs that touch upon forward-thinking post-bop (“Concentric Circles”), atmospheric modality (“A Short Journey”), and buoyant Latin rhythms (“Baile”). Having already grabbed attention on albums with artists like Miguel Zenón, Bebo Valdés, and Charlie Haden, trumpeter Rodriguez remains a quietly ascending star-in-the-making here, blessed with a warm, puckered tone and knack for engaging, architectural lines. His bluesy solo on the hard-boppish “Blue Waters,” and his tender flügelhorn turn on Caetono Veloso’s ballad “Aquele Frevo Axe” are supremely engaging. Similarly, Stephens continues to prove he’s one of the most inventive and accomplished players of his generation, offering up spiraling, vocal-like improvisations throughout. Together, they spar on “Baile” and take divergent, yet complementary paths on the roiling, funky “L’s Bop.” While Barron has never sounded anything short of virtuosic, his skills have only deepened over the years. He commands the album, framing his musicians with richly textured chord voicings one minute, and launching into evocative improvisational asides the next. What’s particularly refreshing is how immediate and of-the-moment the album feels. Concentric Circles is the sound of a jazz master continuing to push forward, buoyed by his bandmates and the lessons of the past.
Review by Matt Collar