Live at Cobi's
Straightahead tenor players who regularly stretch themselves and break a sweat in the process are too few and far between these days. That's what makes a record by someone like the late Bill Barron so attractive. Barron had no such problems cutting loose. He possessed an original voice-not revolutionary, but unique in its way. Live at Cobi's (Steeplechase) comes from a pair of late '80s concerts Barron gave not long before his death in 1989 at the age of 62.
A burning rhythm section including pianist Fred Simmons, bassist Santi Debriano and drummer Ben Riley joins Barron, who plays with a declamatory, Dexter Gordon-ish tone and an energetic, even sense of swing. He's a superlative stream-of-consciousness player who's less convincing when confronted with lots of changes, but great fun when given more harmonic latitude, as on Charlie Parker's "Confirmation" and his own "Until Further Notice." Where are the new Bill Barrons-the mainstreamers who sound like no one but themselves?