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Kenny Barron Quintet: Images

Kenny Barron’s latest quintet trades in the saxophone and trumpet frontline of his accustomed units for the gentler sound of Anne Drummond’s flutes and Stefon Harris’ vibraphone. Not that these two hold back any when it comes to vigorous improvising, especially when urged on by Barron’s kicking new drummer Kim Thompson. Images (Sunnyside) captures both the creamy and the more forceful personalities of this promising ensemble over the course of a lengthy album. Lack of ambition isn’t the problem; the mutating 18-minute title track as well as ingenious reworkings of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” and Bud Powell’s “Hallucinations” are loaded with sharp and exciting playing from all involved, especially the always-dependable Barron. And the lighter pieces float elegantly by. But in trying to present the multidimensional character of the band, Images may just give us too much of a good thing.

Originally Published