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Kenny Barron

A major modern mainstream pianist with a sound of his own, Kenny Barron has been a significant force in jazz since the 1960s. Born June 9, 1943 in Philadelphia and the younger brother of the saxophonist Bill Barron (who was 16 years older), he began on piano when he was 12. Early associations included playing professionally with Mel Melvin’s Orchestra in 1957 and Philly Joe Jones two years later. Barron moved to New York in 1962 when he was 19, working with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody. Moody recommended him for the position of pianist with the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet and Gillespie hired him without hearing a note. His five years with the trumpeter (1962-67) made him well known in the jazz world. Barron also had important stints with the groups of Freddie Hubbard (1966-70), Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, Buddy Rich, Yusef Lateef (1970-75) and Ron Carter’s two-bass quartet (1976-80). In the 1980s, Barron was Stan Getz’s pianist during the tenor-saxophonist’s final years. He also was a co-founder of Sphere, a quartet that originally specialized in the music of Thelonious Monk before stretching out into originals. Sphere had a recorded reunion (with Gary Bartz replacing the late Charlie Rouse) in 1998. Barron was a professor of music at Rutgers during 1973-2000; his students included David Sanchez and Terence Blanchard. Barron has led his own trios since the late 1970s and he has recorded over 40 albums as a leader since 1974. He has written many originals (“Voyage” is a standard). Along the way, Kenny Barron has recorded with the who’s who of jazz including all of the above names plus his brother Bill Barron, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt, Chet Baker, Cindy Blackman, Benny Carter, Larry Coryell, Booker Ervin, Jim Hall, Tom Harrell, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones, Sheila Jordan, Abbey Lincoln, Russell Malone, Frank Morgan, Dianne Reeves, Bud Shank, Woody Shaw and countless others.