Kenny Barron Biography

Kenneth Barron, 9 June 1943, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. After studying piano as a child, Barron began playing professionally when still in his early teens. Performing first in R&B bands, he began to concentrate on jazz, and in the late 50s and early 60s played briefly with Philly Joe Jones and Yusef Lateef. From 1961, he was resident in New York, playing with James Moody, Lee Morgan, his older brother Bill Barron, a saxophonist, and then joined Dizzy Gillespie for an association that lasted until 1966. During his sojourn with Gillespie he toured extensively. In the late 60s he was briefly with Stanley Turrentine and then spent two years with Freddie Hubbard, following this engagement with a long stint with Lateef. By this time Barron had become established as a composer and teacher and in 1973 was appointed to a senior post at Rutgers University. During this same period he also worked with Ron Carter.

In the 80s Barron continued teaching, writing and playing, co-leading the group Sphere, which featured Charlie Rouse, Buster Williams and Ben Riley, and recording with Frank Wess and others. He then enjoyed a long and deeply satisfying musical relationship with Stan Getz, playing on several notable albums with Victor Lewis and Rufus Reid. He has also proved to be a sensitive accompanist for singers including Judy Niemack, Sathima Bea Benjamin and Teresa Brewer. Although he has enjoyed a high profile among musicians, appearing in the rhythm sections of many bands on numerous albums, Barron’s main contribution to jazz might well prove to be his teaching and composing, even though he received the Best Piano award in the JazzTimes poll in 1995. In 1998 he recorded with Sphere again, with Gary Bartz replacing the deceased Rouse. He reunited with Lewis and Reid in 2007, and together with Joel Frahm they recorded We Used To Dance.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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