One of my favorite pianists, Kenny Barron, now 72, has finally recorded his own trio with Kiyoshi Kitagawa, with whom he has worked for the past 20 years, and drummer Jonathan Blake, in his trio since about 10 years. And “Book Of Intuition” starts off with a piece from his ever-evolving list of original compositions, a tune he has recorded before and shows his love for Brazilian music. “Magic Dance” at times reminds me of his 2002 work with the Trio da Paz (“Canta Brasil”). Elegantly flowing, fluid and full of joy and fun.
There is also one of his signature bopping tunes, “Bud-Like”, dedicated to the great Bud Powell and recorded solo for his 1981 LP “At The Piano”, which was re-released last year, and the 1991 “Live at Maybeck” on Concord. The trio is romping and rolling through the piece with an almost exhausting tempo. But it’s in compositions like “Cook’s Bay” where I like him best. The flawless interpretation and his vivid, excellent ideas all sound so natural and easy, with very delicate and poignant lines that come across without any bravado. The track, dedicated to his wife, can also be found on his 2000 album “Spirit Song” which featured Eddie Henderson and David Sanchez, among others.
The peaceful “In The Slow Lane” was written for the 2010 movie “Another Harvest Moon”, the first time Kenny was able to write for a film. And here is another Barron treat: there is always this full resonance in his playing, even in the slower and quiet pieces. This is piano bliss. Kenny’s affection for the music of Thelonious Monk has always been there from the start. Whether in his live performances or on record, a Monk tune or two just has to be a part of it. But he doesn’t choose the obvious: with “Shuffle Boil” and “Light Blue” he comes up with two lesser-played Monk songs that become far more accessible and somehow feasible in his hands (the latter a brilliant solo rendition).
There is more modern jazz romp with “Lunacy”, trance-like Brazilian slow groove with “Dreams” (another showstopper here), and another piece from that afore-mentioned movie, called “Prayer”, a very self-absorbed, meditative beauty that is perfect contemplation. The album ends on another deeply moving note: Charlie Haden‘s “Nightfall” is so intrinsically pure and deep. A real gem. As is the whole album and the leader’s many fine originals.