Pianist Kenny Barron has resided in the same house in the Midwood section of Brooklyn for the past 27 years. It is an unassuming, three-floor wooden structure where he lives with his wife, Joanne, his daughter, Nicole, and his eleven-year-old granddaughter, Nikara.
The large collection of African sculptures, brought home by Joanne from Ghana, and a large collection of cookbooks are the first things I notice about their home. Joanne is the cook but Kenny, who loves good food and wine, occasionally dons a chef’s hat. He prepares simple meals such as spaghetti or meatloaf in contrast to what he orders in restaurants, where his favorite food is spicy Indian. “I could eat it all day,” he says. Kenny and some friends formed an eating club of seven and once a month they enjoy different Manhattan restaurants, from French to Japanese.
Kenny is also a wine lover, concentrating on reds from California. When he finds a good wine through such stores as Sherry Lehman, he orders by the case. Black Opal and Stonehedge are his favorite California wines, but he doesn’t pay much attention to vintage years; Kenny goes by the taste. He also loves French cognacs: Martell and Remy Martin are his first choices, and especially aged Armagnac.
Since he is on the road, mainly abroad, eight to nine months a year, coming home is an exhilarating experience. And Kenny’s family is his center. His son, Nile, and grandson, Christopher, live in Manhattan, but a large part of his family comes from Philadelphia.
Kenny also likes to relax with a good book. He is a voracious reader and aspired to be a writer for years before finally deciding on a musical career. But his most fulfilling moments are sitting at a piano “noodling it,” he says, and coming up with a melody. A germ of a musical idea may occur, and though it needs development, “these are my happiest moments,” he admits.
Kenny says he needs the sun to be creative, so “I spend two weeks a year on vacation, either cruising off Tahiti on a boat called Windsong, or cruising or island hopping in the Caribbean. St. Lucia and St. Thomas are my favorite islands.
“I need the trees, a climate of 75 to 80 degrees, good food and wine, a good book or two, and of course my wife. That for me is a perfect day.”
The Personal Files
How would you define your clothing style?
Casual but elegant. I prefer Italian designers.