The Artistry of… Kenny Barron

He is a master ensemble player, an inspirational bandleader, and commander of the piano keyboard. He has been an active educator with students like Gerald Clayton. Some years ago I watched him with Clayton as part of 4 By Monk By 4. The two sharply focused on each others’ performances. Teacher watching student, and student watching teacher.

Magical moments spelling everything Barron represents. Living legacy, mastery and artistry. He is an honoured master, too — a National Endowment for the Arts 2010 Jazz Master. His bio describes how he makes his music with an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with elegant playing, sensitive melody and infectious rhythm. The soul of the artist is expressed this way by Jazz Weekly: “the most lyrical piano player of our time.”

He is a Philadelphian by birth. A city that is an animated home base and birthplace of many great thinkers, musicians and artists. There’s something in the air in the city — maybe it’s in the hoagies or the cheese-steaks? I think it is in the spirit. In so many ways, a city with a rich, soulful, cultural history. Barron is Philadelphia freedom: infectious, lyrical, sensitive and elegant.

The Artistry of… airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.