Pianist Kenny Barron came to prominence 40 years ago, when, at 19, he joined Dizzy Gillespie’s group for five years. He then went on to accompany a host of other jazzmen (e.g., Yusef Lateef, James Moody, Ron Carter) as well as fronting and recording with his own groups. Although practically invisible to the public, Barron has been nominated nine times by his peers for a Grammy, most recently for last year’s Freefall on Verve.
Like Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan, both of whom he admires, Barron is an extremely lyrical player who’s also rooted in bop. As an accompanist to Stan Getz during the last five years of the saxophonist’s life, Barron became entranced with the lilting rhythms of Brazilian music and 11 years ago recorded Sambao (EmArcy) with Brazilian musicians. Canta Brasil features him with the Brazilian group Trio da Paz in a program of bossa nova, samba and baiao rhythms to which Anne Drummond’s flute makes a nice addition.
Hottest track: “Bachiao,” guitarist Romero Lubambo’s killer melding of a Bach fugue with the infectious baiao beat. Most sensual track: Barron’s “Clouds,” a marvelous ballad.