Images

COMPOSERS: Kenny Barron
LABELS: Gitanes
PERFORMER: Kenny Barron
CATALOGUE NO: 6.02E+11

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Kenny Barron will likely never enjoy the fashionable status of Mehldau, but at least he’s currently enjoying the patronage of a major label (albeit the French arm of Universal Jazz) with Images.

This wise old head has probably given lessons to half the pianists working today and still ranks among the first-call names for any session needing a completely safe pair of hands at the keyboard. His own-name sessions have emerged in fits and starts over the years, and have offered a few unpredictable departures too. Here he’s in charge of a chamber-jazz quintet: piano, vibes, flute, bass and drums.

The album climaxes on the title track, a long commissioned piece which probably gave rise to the rest of the date. Before that is an interesting sequence of originals and one or two sprightly transfomations, including Bud Powell’s ‘Hallucinations’.

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Enjoyable as it all is, this doesn’t compel attention often enough: flautist Anne Drummond isn’t much of an improviser, and the music is a bit too perfumed at times. But it always bursts into life when vibesman Stefon Harris takes a solo: like his great forebear Milt Jackson, he seems incapable of playing anything less than fine and swinging.