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Kenny Barron - The Source (ArtWork/[PIAS])

16 January 2023

At 79, piano great Kenny Barron has been around long enough to let over forty years pass since the last time he did an unaccompanied solo album. The Source is his much belated follow-up to 1982’s At the Piano, and, unsurprisingly, it’s a delight. Barron channels decades of jazz piano into his performances, blending catchy melodies, swinging rhythms, and judicious use of improvisation and blue notes like the veteran he is. In a nod to the album’s title, he covers two tunes each by Duke Ellington (and his composing partner Billy Strayhorn) and Thelonious Monk, titans without whom most modern jazz keyboard wouldn’t exist, and whose songs he clearly loves. He’s just as enthusiastic about his own compositions, carousing happily through the perky “What If,” dancing deftly through the swirling “Sunshower,” drifting hauntingly through the ethereal “Phantoms,” and romping wistfully through the gorgeous “Dolores Street.” Barron is a master at leading bands with his keyboard, but The Source makes us hope he doesn’t wait another four decades before the next solo recording.